5 ways your web copy can satisfy lazy people (that's most of us)

31 May, 2011

I’m lazier than I used to be. And if you shop online, use a smartphone or browse the web often, you probably are too.

In 2011, we all have amazing technology at our fingertips. Yet when that technology goes even slightly wrong, nobody’s happy.

We expect answers to our questions in a matter of milliseconds. But some of us can’t even be bothered to sift through a few million search engine results. (Perhaps because even Google’s gotten sloppy.)

Even the community aspects of buying online are too much effort these days. Instead of writing customer reviews, today we can just click ‘Like’.

Changing expectations

The point is this: all this laziness has changed what we expect, as consumers, from commercial websites.

We’ve been thoroughly spoiled by the instant gratification offered by YouTube, MySpace (RIP) and other life-changing websites – and as a result, we expect web content to be organised differently now than we did as little as five years ago. Even when we’re buying a baking tray, or some other mundane item, we now demand a great online experience.

So putting our Web Copywriter hats back on, what can we do to make sure we don’t lose all of these lazy customers to better-prepared rivals? Here are my top 5 tips.

1. "Sell it to me in a sentence"

When I land on a website, I’d better understand what it does within a few seconds or I’m leaving. That’s why taglines are still so important. Don’t go for something coolly vacuous, though – just tell us what we need to know. An interesting example is Etsy’s rather awkward title tag text, “Your place to buy all things handmade, vintage and supplies.” It’s simple, direct and has helped the company find 3 million customers since 2005.

2. "You expect me to read?"

Apparently, many people now use YouTube as their primary source of information online. Traditional Google is too much effort. Why? Because watching a video is much easier than reading. And why not, I suppose – great web copy doesn’t have to be displayed as text after all. So consider reaching out to these lazy bastards by creating web videos alongside your traditional content. Then you can be found on YouTube too.

3. "Spare us the lecture"

It’s the most basic of web copy tips: nobody wants to read a whole essay about your product on their computer screen. But that doesn’t mean long copy is wrong. A successful sale is rarely made in fifty words. The trick is in how you structure your copy. This example from TomTom, leaders in European and US sat nav markets, is a great one – note the short, headed sections and tabs, which allow customers to chart their own path through the copy.

4. "Make me feel like a celeb"

According to this article by trend watcher Bruce Horovitz, 2011’s most exciting new products aren’t just aimed at lazy people. They’re aimed at lazy people who’ve been exposed daily to celebrity-obsessed media and endless reality shows about rich people. Now many of us want a piece of that lifestyle for ourselves (at a lower price, of course). Examples include dental strips that whiten teeth in only 2 hours.

As an approach to marketing, this is about more than selling convenience and other benefits – it’s about delivering a complete experience. And the less effort required the better.

5. "I want answers now"

Web contact forms aren’t the novel bits of magic they once were. Today I would much rather find the answers I want on your website than actually have to get in touch. Maybe it’s because many companies are too slow to respond. Or perhaps I’m just more impatient than ever. If I can’t find everything I need to know on one website, it’s a safe bet I can find it somewhere else.

So once again, don’t fear long copy. When planning your content, think about the questions your customers want to ask you and answer them. The incredibly successful Amazon Kindle is a superb example of how to do this right. It’s very long, but covers everything in ‘at a glance’ sections – very few of its umpteen paragraphs are over three lines long. It prioritises the product’s selling points, with light copy becoming more detailed as you continue reading. And for us really lazy people, there’s a video at the top of the page.

Written by Neil Wheatley

Neil Wheatley is a Manchester-based freelance copywriter who writes for agencies and marketing depts across the UK. He isn’t this grumpy in person.

Up next…
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16th October 2017 at 9:16am

Once again a fun article to read! It is true that most people, instead of doing a review on a item just click "like" on facebook. Luckily there is amazon who have customer reviews and other bloggers write up detailed reviews on products.

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27 penguins
16th October 2017 at 9:16am

Excellent article. The message is true. I don't like the message but it's still true. It's on a downward spiral as well. (Off to check if the domain www.lookattheshinything.com is available. It's the future!

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16th October 2017 at 9:16am

Very interesting - A lesson worth learning for online promotion, but also one that reflects how quickly this mindset has grown.

I find it amazing how convenience has so quickly replaced old priorities such as quality, references and caution, especially when parting with hard earned cash. These days, I think people are happy to accept a level of disappointment when making lazy decisions, but does the line start to blur when company's use it to justify poor customer service? However, as an independent film maker, this is great news, especially if we can strike the balance of quality, targeted accompanying copy in films/adverts, and on the sites that host them. Appropriate copy is the 'pitch-matching' which provides a connection between any product/service and the customers idea of a price. Therefore, ultimately making the sale.

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Edna Miggins
16th October 2017 at 9:16am

Oh, dear. There's our website going in the bin! However, very, very true in all aspects and great suggestions! I only wonder how long before we have to even fine-tune these!

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