Lovers of science and literature aren’t usually found mixing at the same events. However, it would seem that these two subjects have found common ground in the form of copywriting. There is now scientific proof that certain methods for creating copy can capture readers’ attention and promote staying power. Perhaps you are a copywriter yourself, or maybe you find it more efficient to purchase blog content for your site. Whichever route you take, you can make your blog more compelling by noting these five scientifically minded ideals.
Don’t Spell It Out
When it comes to numbers, best known as “figures” according to the 2010 Associated Press Stylebook, avoid the use of spelling them out—even if they are less than 10. I know, I know, the Associated Press Stylebook, as well as Chicago, APA, MLA, and other professional language styles state that for every number (or figure) in the double digits, you need to spell it out. However, for the sake of our speed riddled society, don’t do it. Use the numerical numbers in your blogs, no matter how small and insignificant it may be, as people online are rapid scanners rather than readers according to data compiled by the Nielsen Norman Group. Numbers in numerical form aid them in their task. Top tip: always include numerical numbers in a title, such as the title of this blog post.
Penning with Popularity
Everyone wants to be the cool kid, and that includes words. Popular words are those that are most commonly read online, which means they are the easiest for people to understand. Avoid those floccinaucinihilipilification, Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis and especially this unprintable protein—unless, of course, you are in fact a scientist. Instead focus on words that are short, sweet and to the point, particularly those written for adults who have an average 8th grade reading level. For instance, there is a list of words most commonly read and responded to by Twitter followers, which includes these top 5 most popular tweeted words:
Tailor-made and Custom-fitted
Create your copy for your audience. According to ConversionXL the science of persuasion affects how content relates to readers. ConversionXL lists six persuasion principles that relate to custom fitting content:
- Liking—be the cool kid
- Authority—endorsements and backing of your message
- Scarcity—limited access and time stamped posts
- Social proof—expose your web traffic stats
- Consistency—choose a route and stick with it
- Reciprocity—give something in return for views, i.e. token or knowledge
This sounds easy enough, but in reality it requires you to know who is reading your blog and why. Then, in order to measure your effectiveness, you need to track your readers, which you can do with analysis compiled through your website host or social media sites. You can also use commenting, email sharing and page sharing sites, such as StumbleUpon, to see who is sharing, reading and liking your copy. In doing so, you will make your copy more personable, which will encourage readers to come back again and again and again. They will do this because they have an emotional reaction that occurs when reading something that feels like it was written especially to them.
Purchase Blog Content with a Surprise Factor
In the book Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, the main character dies and is reborn dozens of times before she finally succeeds in her life’s mission, which is to assassinate Hitler, pre-World War II. Wasn’t expecting that one, were you? Tossed you a curve ball, and now you’re hopefully wondering how this relates to blog content. It doesn’t. It’s all about the element of surprise, which offers an adrenaline rush for the mind.
Science has discovered that our brains enjoy surprises and the unexpected as this breaks us from our often mundane train of thought and helps make life more interesting. According to “10 Surprising Things That Benefit Our Brains That You Can Do Every Day,” doing new and surprising things also slows us down so that we actually think time is going slower, which is the proverbial fountain of youth. By introducing unexpected copy with an interesting aspect, it makes readers renew their mental focus. As a result, readers are more likely to get hooked into reading copy that is excitable, as well as to read additional content by the same provider as they are spending more quality time on a web site.
Curiosity Kills No One in Copywriting
As with the surprise element, readers are looking for things to read that peak their curiosity. Headlines, titles, Tweets and phrases that are just interesting enough to grab a reader’s attention are lollipops in the world of copywriting. So you need to create what’s called a curiosity gap, better explored by Upworthy in this enthusiastic slide presentation (begin at slide #21). According to Upworthy, plan to write 25 headlines for every piece of writing, as you’ll be scrapping 24 of them down the crap shoot. Other tips by Upworthy include:
- Avoid depressing titles.
- Don’t be vulgar or sexual in a manner that would be embarrassing to your mother.
- Leave something to be desired.
- Avoid overly simple or too descriptive titles and headlines.
- Make the leading phrases exciting so that people want to find out more.
Miranda B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.