Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Copywriting Language Zingers In Content Marketing

There's a whole bunch of conventional wisdom sloshing around the Interwebs about how to craft text that captures an audience's attention. Zinger phrases are the copywriting bridge from eyeball capture to audience commitment. Those of us who live and die by Web traffic need hard core facts to support our content marketing.

I did a Google search of "compelling subject lines" and came up with a lot of recycled blog posts saying the same things. Action words that promise life-changing benefits and force decisions are no-brainers that have been around forever. The new twist is in the delivery through social media. Linkbait farms are full of links saying "10 Best Ways To Do Something You Need Right Now" next to pictures of Grumpy Cat and Kim Kardashian. Grumpy and Kim are not doing something you need right now, so feel free to ignore them.

Any MOOC copywriting course would be a cool bag of tricks if it were co-branded with a reputable business school. Everyone would have access to that top material but only the A-grade students would use it effectively, just like they would in a traditional school. Leading with a title that starts with a number, like those "10 Best Ways" articles, is all the rage on social media sharing sites. Rather than link to copywriting how-to blogs that come and go, I would rather search Google for "copywriting academic research" to find the peer-reviewed proof of workable tactics.

The marketing community does not have a doctrinal definition of how long copy should be to get attention, or maybe I just couldn't find one because I don't have the marketer's secret decoder ring. Conventional wisdom now favors short-form copy that matches people's abbreviated attention spans. I cannot find research that determines whether short-form copy is truly more effective than long-form copy at getting either attention or compliance with a final pitch. It may not matter if the power words punch the reader out up front in the copy headline.

I searched the Harvard Business Review and Knowledge@Wharton for "copywriting" and found next to nothing that would validate any best practices. One Wharton article is "Marketers Turn to Metrics to Measure the Impact of Their Initiatives." It discusses the need for hard metrics but offers none. The market is thus wide open for the kind of unverifiable folk wisdom that ad agencies have always purveyed. Copywriting is still in the Mad Men era. Modern content marketers are welcome to dive into academic journals in search of proof that phrasing, word length, tone, and alphanumeric variation truly drive conversion rates.

Fear and greed still drive audience response in a highly evolved digital age. Pushing an elevator pitch like "How to make 10x more money, go 2x as fast, save 50% on your bills, and be 3x more attractive, all within 24 hours" would be a copywriter's dream. Yeah, people really believe that stuff. Delivering on that promise is the product developer's problem. Alfidi Capital offers no such promises. The zinger content you see here is in a class by itself.