"Write with the reader in mind.” That’s the mantra for those working in copywriting and Corporate Communications. While it’s simple to repeat it, putting it into practice with concrete and tangible actions, especially when it comes to CTA copywriting, is not a straightforward proposition.
"Writing with the reader in mind" is more than just a mantra; it's a golden rule. In communications, there are few golden rules but, as far as I'm concerned, this is a pillar. It is a foundation for building any text, regardless of how large or small, it is. But how do you write with the reader in mind? The first and fundamental step is this: we have to move away from the standard "call-to-action" to something I have called "point out the benefit."
Let's see what "point out the benefit" means and how to embrace this change of perspective.
Change the mentality to change the results
Whenever a company publishes imperative copies, such as "Sign up now," a unicorn dies, and maybe that's precisely why nobody has seen one yet.
Changing our perspective, and adopting a customer-centric focus that replaces the mere action with the benefit, could help anyone in marketing and communications achieve better performance regarding their conversion, involvement, trust, and UX.
Changing perspective means to first, stop telling people what to do and to start providing them with a benefit, an advantage, or opportunity linked to the action requested.
If it's true we're more likely to take action when asked to do; we are more likely to dissipate our energy when someone presents a benefit to us.
Here are some examples to help you understand what I mean.
How many times does a brand try to persuade us to sign up for a newsletter with a banal “Subscribe” in the front of the subscription form?
If the CTA does not mention there is going to be anything beneficial to us, why would we bother to give a company our most valuable asset, which in this case is our contact information?
Iubenda, a SAAS firm specialized in compliance solutions for websites, nudges users to subscribe both with the free trial opportunity and presents the number of policies it's already generated.
Writing a microcopy like “Sign up” means that the company is only thinking about what’s beneficial to them and forgetting to communicate to the reader what will be advantageous to them. It implies that we’re misusing the lines of text at our disposal, and let me tell you; it means we're missing out on the opportunity to communicate in an entirely regenerated way. Moving away from the “call-to-action” to the “point out the benefit” perspective allows us to go back to holding the reader’s hand and guiding them through their customer journey.
How can we flip the script for common CTAs with this in mind?
In the left-hand column, the repeated CTA "Sign up," as we have already seen, communicates nothing but a waste of energy and is merely a commitment from the reader. Conversely, on the right, the new copy embraces the point out the benefit perspective and communicates an advantage. There is always an active verb, but it gets rejected depending on the benefit.
Let's take a look at another example.
We also see a negative CTA in the left-hand column, implying that it requires action without explaining advantages. In turn, in the right-hand column, we have two variations containing different levers. In the first case, we have the social proof gear, which is ideal for those looking to create a community. The second introduces the concept of "exclusivity," which is interesting to use for an audience that seeks prestige and to feel unique.
Trello syntactically presents the advantage of its Power-Ups application and uses a variant of the product name (power up) to encourage the click.
As you can see, adopting the point out the benefit approach is a challenge. It requires the copywriter to stop, think more, and find a functional lever, discarding ubiquitous, tired forms.
Faced with a superior creative and strategic effort, I assure you that you will note significant increases in your conversions.
Just remember one thing-never penalize clarity in favor of originality. Noting the benefit means you should insert it but always do it a direct, clear, and straightforward way.
So, what do you say? Will you keep calling for action, or will you join me and start communicating a benefit?