The tone of voice (which doesn't really differ from one company to another) is around sounding human, being clear and show empathy. We write like this to influence behaviour - we need to make our copy readable and the product relatable.
But there's more we can do. In Sally Mayor's breakout session, I learnt about heuristics (short cuts) and cognative biases in decision making. And conference speaker, Rob Shotten, talked about the EAST framework. This dug deeper, with hints and tips on how to make copy work harder.
EAST is an acronym, it stands for Easy, Attractive, Sociable and Timely.
UXers guru, BJ Fogg's theory of changing behaviour by creating motivation and eliminating barriers is at the heart of this.
Firstly, is the most obvious to copywriters - keep language simple.
"It [being clearer and using simple language] makes you more trustworthy and therefore believable.
Trust + believe = credibility + sales" - Sally Mayor
Making language simple isn't about dumbing down or patronising your audience. It's about accessibility.
The average reading age in the UK is 13.5 years old. The Financial Times writes for a reading age of 16. And marketing copy punches at 19 years old. Although tone of voice guidelines and copywriters all pontificate about language being simple and colloquial, we don't seem to live by it.
Later on the in the day, during UX copywriter Laura Parker's talk, she mentioned saccade rhythms - where we should use high-frequency words as these are easy to miss, therefore, making copy quicker and easier to read.
The second point is one that I bang on about constantly at work. It doesn't matter how great my copy is or how impressive the marketing is, if the fulfilment journey is broken or difficult, people won't convert.
The example Rob used was an experiment for school enrollment where doing nothing meant very low numbers, getting people to opt-in via text increased numbers significantly, but auto-enrolling students saw the biggest uplift.
When Sally talked about this, she said copy needs to be easy to read, do, remember and believe.
By using the primacy and recency effect of putting the stronger/important messages at the beginning and the end, as people tend to get bored or skip passed the middle.
She also told us that repetition and rhyming also plants things in the memory - using "A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play" as an example. It doesn't help you do any of those things, but you can't get that jingle out of your head.
In order to make the audience believe, she cited the Langer Experiment where three people tried to jump the queue for the photocopier, one said they just wanted to jump the queue, the second stated they were in a hurry and the third that they needed to do some photocopying.
The latter two offered justifications and the experiment found that people were far more likely to believe and change their behaviour if it was justified, even if the justification is ridiculous.
We all like things to be attractive, but this doesn't necessarily mean making it looks pretty with shapes and colours. He talked about the Von Restdorff effect, or isolation effect. As Rob put it "we're hardwired to notice what's different".
That's not the only thing that makes brands (or people) attractive. It was good for me to find out about the pratfall effect, a bias discovered in 1966 by Harvard professor of psychology, Aronson, mainly because I do stupid stuff all the time. Adam Ferrier's experiment takes it further and relates this to brands.
If you admit to your flaws or use them to your advantage, it makes you more likeable. Ads Listertine's 'it tastes lousy', VW Beetle's 'ugly' and Marmite's 'you either love it or hate it' campaign illustrates this.
We're all sheep. We basically do whatever the people around us do. This is why reviews, rating and UGC is huge. Rob played us this video to show us how easily influenced we are:
We want social proofing, which is used in marketing campaigns everywhere, like '8 out of 10 cats' and 'millions of subscribers', etc.
But if you don't have those metrics, Rob gave a great tip - create the illusion of social proofing like Apple did with iPod by giving it white earphones, therefore making its popularity visible.
I guess this is why celebrity endorsements, influencers and social media are staples to marketing campaigns. But do they work in terms of mnemonics...
The brain is predisposed to maintain opinion. If you're having a Socratic debate with someone, make sure they're distracted with music or a video, as they're less likely to counter your argument and be persuaded.
BA used Delibes' Flower Duet to distract the audience from making counterarguments about the expense, frequency, services, etc.
Other behavioural economic tips I picked up at #CopyCon19:
- The paradox of choice - there's less conversion if you give people too many options. So create fewer pages, products and CTAs. Remember to explain and name the options.
- Power of three - the brain can only deal with three options; two isn't enough and four is an overload. Also, people will always pick the one in the middle.
- Framing - use language with a concrete gain or loss. If you show your audience what they'll gain, they'll convert. Centering your message around loss has the opposite effect. And people want the quick-wins. They want it today and now! Very Veruca Salt!
- Anchoring - set customer expectations and create reference points. Did you know diamond engagement rings weren't a thing until de Beers created a marketing campaign to make it (and the cost of it) a thing? So you can make fetch happen.
- Bold - putting copy in bold font makes people believe. Sally got us to answer a question about Hitler's date of birth, most people opted for the bold version.