The New Rules of Copywriting: Focus less on conversion, more on resonance
Search engine optimization.
If the mere mention of these highly prized numbers causes rebellion to stir up within you, you’re in luck. This article is not going to be about how to improve those things.
Well, at least not directly.
Because in my seven years of writing and teaching business owners how to write personal, compelling and moneymaking marketing, there’s a concept that’s even more valuable than what technical copywriting data will give you.
And it’s resonance.
How do we become online entrepreneurs – nay, human beings – who resonate with our readers?
Ah… there’s the rub.
We’ll dive in in just a moment. But first, a disclaimer. I’m not saying “don’t look at your stats.” Step number 6 in the business writing process I teach my students is “test and tweak.” Which means, review your data. See how the project you just put into the field performed. First, appreciate a thing you did right (which builds your confidence and instinct). And second, decide what you will do differently the next time to get even better results.
What I’m saying is, “too many people in the online marketing world emphasize open, click through and buy rates as the most important thing, when it’s not. In fact, when you set yourself to learning the skill of copywriting, you actually need to focus less on statistics, and instead figure out how to sound like a damn human being instead of some weird vampire who feeds on clicks and credit cards.”
Well, would you look at that?
Here I am, back up on my soapbox again.
Anyhoozle. If you’re willing to buy my farfetched idea that writing copy on the internet isn’t only about statistics and tactics and may actually have something to do with understanding how to touch, move, and inspire human beings, then let’s talk about the mechanics of resonance.
(Here, let’s just all take a deep breath. I know I need one.)
First of all, check in with who you are reading and listening to, marketing-wise. I just heard the most fascinating podcast with spiritual writer Thomas Moore, who talked of this idea of surrounding ourselves with that which speaks to, supports, and strengthens our souls.
I talk to so many business owners who don’t love the way people treat other people on the internet – the manipulation, the fear-trucking, the souped up promises of eternal success if only you buy ____.
Amen, hallelujah, and unsubscribe, I say.
If we are to experiment with this notion of resonance, it starts with what ideas, stories, and experiences we expose ourselves to.
Side bar: after I got my teaching degree, I taught grades 8-12 in a one room schoolhouse in the basement of a Presbyterian church in Seattle. The husband and wife team who founded the school taught me that everything – from the books we read, to the people we associate with, to the movies we watch – populates our imaginations with what’s possible.
You are invited to bless and release any email subscription that does not spark joy. (Thank you, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up for the concept). You are invited to unfriend or hide posts of people that post things that do not regularly touch, move or inspire you.
Side bar: I had a woman unsubscribe from my list last week. She told me I was disgusting and had no credibility. Good for her. If that’s how she feels, she did the right thing.
Second, start where you are. Have you been avoiding getting your newsletter out? Drafting that email nurture sequence? Updating your website? Pick the thing that’s emotionally charged for you, and get curious. You don’t even need to do the thing yet, just ask it a few questions, like what’s the next step here? Who can provide the support I need? Does the way I see the problem lead to success? (Thank you, Best Year Yet for the questions).
I run up against stuff like this all the time, by the way. I spent more than 8 months of my life being grumpy about how the gmail app on my iPhone wasn’t set up properly. Never mind that I was the one who set it up. Never mind that I know the best tech problem-solvers on the planet, some of whom are on my team. Never mind that my beloved, the Philosopher, eats things like this for breakfast.
I preferred to kvetch and run a oh-so-unhelpful narrative that “technology doesn’t work.”
For all my wit and charm, this too is classic Stella.
It’s not all bad, though. It lead to my discovery of this: “Spend less time fighting problems so you can just name them and solve them, already!”
But back to you. Just pick the thing that’s been your Waterloo (geez, is that a Napoleon reference? Would one of you history buffs kindly educate us in the comments?) and look into it.
And if you really want to let ‘er rip, actually commit to doing it. With a deadline. Watch out, world!
And last, please recognize that resonance arises from two sources – one, you being in your essence… that you-ness that has never come before and will never come again. Whatever you do to feel most like you, at your best and most incarnate, go do that. Like, right now. Or, okay, this week. (Did you write it in your calendar?)
Two, once you know how to come from that place in yourself, then resonance in your writing comes from unlearning many of the rules we all learned in school, and allowing ourselves a wider range of expression than we see in most fill-in-the-blank style copywriting formulas and marketing advice.
Savvier buyers – read humans with plenty of money to lavish on your product or service – aren’t interested in formulaic writing. Or formulaic anything, for that matter.
What they are interested in is new possibilities, new experiences, and a glimpse of life through new and more hopeful eyes.
We’d love to hear from YOU…
Do you need to loosen up your copywriting? Where in your blog, social media, or newsletter could you add a little more of YOU to resonate with your audience? Leave your answer in the comments below!