The Sociology of the Sale

2 replies
Hi Warriors!

I have learned so much over the past few weeks here. I am new to WF but I am by no means new to copywriting and the mentality of the buyer. I have a degree in Sociology and I am an avid reader, and just a few minutes ago I made a deduction based on something I read in Maria Veloso's Web Copy that Sells. I wanted to share this little nugget as a way of giving back for everything I'm learning on this forum. Apologies in advance if this has already been discussed somewhere else.

The Zeigarnik Effect

So this Russian theorist Zeigarnik observed that the wait staff at a restaurant remembered orders that they had not yet served better than orders that they had served already. She deduced from the observation that people tended to remember things that were unfinished better than things they have already accomplished. When people think of the thing that they have not accomplished yet, it makes them feel uneasy. This is known as the Zeigarnik Effect.

In her book, Veloso talks about this phenomenon and goes on to apply it to writing web copy. She writes that you should stick to one message on each of your websites, and every word you write should lead the reader to do the one thing you want him or her to do - whether it is sign up for your newsletter, buy your information product, or visit your Amazon link. This is called the linear path method of writing your copy. Littering your page with too many options, links, and calls to action makes the reader experience the Zeigarnik Effect, and they will click away from your page out of frustration.

Ok, So What?

Even if you've never heard of the Zeigarnik Effect, you are most likely already familiar with the linear path method of writing web copy. So I'm sure you're thinking, "Ok, this is old news, so what are you trying to say?"

Well, this is where Sociology comes in. I have been using Google for years to do my writing research and, of course, as a buyer. And I unconsciously scan the first two pages - if not just the first - to decide what I'm going to click. And every single time, I read the 24 word description that is listed in the search results for each site. The description is what ultimately influences me to click. If I am confused by the description, then I just move on.

Most buyers do this as well. So one of the most important parts of writing web copy for your site may be, then, what it says in that description. It must promise an answer to the buyer's problem clearly and concisely; a tease that will encourage them to click. Thinking like the buyer, I mean REALLY pretending that you are the buyer, imagining what you would want to know, is the key to writing effective sales copy that converts. No amount of fancy graphics or awesome widgets will win you the sale if your copy is confusing.

The site name, description, and title all as the same keyword makes it easy for the buyer to know this is exactly what they're looking for. The description clenches the click.

Of course, making your site easy to navigate with one clear message and multiple calls to action never hurts either.

Now, again... If I am late to the party with my observation, and this is already common knowledge, then I apologize in advance.

Just thought I would share.

#copywriting #sale #sales copy #sociology #web copy #web copywriting
  • Profile picture of the author tpw
    Nell, nice insight.

    I have heard the same story told a dozen ways, but the way you told the story had a greater impact on my thinking.

    As such, there is nothing wrong with telling an old story in a new way.

    I'd leave you a thanks, but I have run out again.
    Bill Platt, Oklahoma USA,
    Publish Coloring Books for Profit (WSOTD 7-30-2015)
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  • Profile picture of the author Jhangora
    I'll try and lay my hands on the book. Thanx a lot for the lovely introduction. It is very important to put yourself in the mindset of the visitor. Very obvious, but now I realize what I was doing wrong, when I just started out in IM. Too many banners and very little content
    The Real Voyage of Discovery Consists not In Seeking New Landscapes but In Having New Eyes ~ Marcel Proust
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