When you think about optimising your website to increase conversions, what are some of the first things that come to mind? For most people it’s:

  • call to action buttons
  • headlines
  • layout
  • on page copy (the main copy on the page)

But what if you’re channelling all your efforts in the wrong direction? What if tweaking the small stuff, could transform your hesitant visitors into confident leads and buyers?

What is microcopy?

By small stuff, I mean the tiny bit of copy next to the credit card field, the wording of a specific link, the auto-generated emails you send out, and things like error messages. It’s the finer details of your copy that doesn’t necessarily sell your product or service, but it can back up your brand and enhance your customer service.

Microcopy done well

iiNet

I recently switched my internet over to iiNet. After I called and ordered my broadband, I received a couple of emails from them letting me know the progress of my order. And of course I took note their copy (occupational hazzard). Here’s one email:

 

Microcopy-example-300x130

 

“Gooling your eyes out soon” – a tiny little sentence that says so much:

  • it describes perfectly what I’ll be doing as soon as I’m all hooked up to the internet. The fact that they know this and acknowledge it shows that they know who their users are and are connected to their customers
  • it shows the personality of the brand – a little bit funny and quirky
  • it makes me smile, even though I’m impatient to have my service connected and a bit disappointed that it was delayed a few days

It’s a much better way to simply say “you will be connected soon”. It feels human and less automated and robotic.

Then once my connection was active I got another email:

 

Microcopy-example-email-300x173

 

Perfect. Again it shows the personality of the brand, it makes me smile, it shows that there are real people behind this company and they can have a bit of a laugh at themselves.

In this case I had already become a customer so these examples didn’t influence my decision on whether or not to buy. But, as a new customer I’m reassured that I’ve made a good decision to sign up to a contract to give these people money every month for the next 2 years.

Shopify

Another example of great microcopy is on Shopify’s sign up page.

 

Microcopy-example-sign-up-300x185

 

The little sentence “Don’t worry, you can change your store name later” might seem insignificant, but by writing this, Shopify has changed its readers’ thoughts from:

“Oh hang on, I’m still not completely sure about my shop name. What if I pick the wrong name? This could make or break my business, oh bollocks, what am I doing? I’m not ready to start a business, I haven’t even got the name sorted out. This is crazy, I’m not organised, I’m not ready, I won’t sign up just yet”

to

“Hey this is cool, I can try it for 2 weeks and see what happens and can finalise a name later. Ok, let’s give it a go!”

How’s that for improving your conversion rate!

Tips for writing great microcopy

Microcopy is important because it can improve your website conversion rate, alleviate customer concerns and can make your reader’s experience easier.

1) Good microcopy comes from knowing your user

Every company has its own language, which often sneaks onto the website if you’re not careful. Make sure your microcopy is written in the language of your user / reader / customer. They are most probably a person (you’d hope so), so talk to them like one! Instead of automated, robotic, stiff and formal messages that make you feel just like a number in their database, try something a bit more friendly and realistic.

2) Try to be unique, but don’t do it just for the sake of it

The best examples of microcopy are often funny and a bit quirky. BUT – it doesn’t have to be side-splittingly funny. Your readers aren’t at a comedy show. Be careful not to overdo it because there’s a fine line between friendly and humorous, and just stupid or cheesy. Your well intentioned “we’re cool” copy can quickly make you appear desperate for friends.

3) It’s MICROcopy – keep it short

Microcopy can be anything from a short sentence to a single word. Keep it concise and to the point. Filling out a form should be a simple process for your users, not a gigantic task that they have to designate half an hour to (because they won’t).

4) Don’t use every opportunity as a ‘branding moment’

A ‘branding moment’ is a moment when you purposefully inject your brand’s voice and personality into what would normally be a straightforward user interaction. It can be easy to try and do this in EVERY interaction, but overdoing it can have a negative impact.

Your brand’s tone and voice are essential to consider when writing your main copy, but it shouldn’t get in the way of a user who is trying to take action.

Avoid over-branding when someone is trying to take action:

  • navigation
  • forms and field labels
  • instructional text
  • selection text (drop-downs, radio buttons)
  • buttons

You don’t want to risk confusing users in the middle of trying to accomplish something that will cause them to abandon whatever they’re doing.

Consider adding your brand’s voice in the results of action:

  • confirmation messaging
  • rewards (badges, points)
  • 404 pages
  • server errors
  • error messaging

Here you have an opportunity to embrace the user’s success – like the monkey high-five’s after you’ve sent an email to your subscriber list in MailChimp.

We could talk about microcopy all day, because it can be found everywhere, from pricing pages, to the security messages under your optin forms, to the tiny little reminders in your checkout form.

So, the next time you’re taking a look at the microcopy on your website, maybe you can use some of my tips here – or feel free to get in touch with me if you think you need a hand. 

Your turn –  where do you think these tiny phrases will provide the most impact on your website?