Posts Tagged ‘response marketing’

Common words that suck emotional power out of your content

blog writing with emotional words

You can’t bore someone into reading or sharing your content.

Every word has an emotion attached to it.

Every reader, regardless of profession or IQ, has an emotional reaction to your words. It is hardwired into the brain.

So when you are writing a blog post or other content for online marketing, your choice of words is important. Need convincing?

Legendary copywriter John Caples made a life study of persuasive writing. Once, he changed the word “repair” to “fix” in an ad and achieved a 20% increase in response. One word!

Related: A word reduction plan for lean writing

That illustrates an important rule of word choice for writers: When emotion meets intellect, emotion always wins. Analytical words activate the reader’s analytical brain instead of triggering an emotional response. Here is an example.

How would you respond to getting this email?


It is loaded with intellectual words like “selected,” “allocated,” “receive,” and “required.” I think anybody with a pulse would be left cold by this message.

What if we replaced the intellectual words with emotional words? We might get something like this:

We have great news for you. You’re already a winner.

Here’s how you claim your award …

It is essentially the same information. But the words are far more likely to trigger a response.

Weeding the content garden

Like weeds in a garden, intellectual words can creep into your copy, choking its emotional impact. It is so unnecessary. When you are on the lookout for them, it is easy to shift word choice in favor of emotion. Here is a reference guide to get you started, courtesy of my copywriting hero Herschell Gordon Lewis.

content marketing emotion words

Boring or persuasive? You choose

Every good piece of copy has an emotional outpouring of words. But there is a big difference between writing with emotion and dumbing down your message. It comes down to understanding people.

People make judgments about you, your ideas, or your brand based on emotion. Then they justify their response with logic. It happens in that order.

Your challenge as a blogger is to choose words that arouse their senses and lead them to their logical conclusion. Intellectual words don’t do that. They make you sound smarter. They also make you sound boring.

What would you add to the intellectual/emotional word list?



To pierce the digital clutter, deliver the unexpected

January 10, 2013 6 comments
direct mail is unexpected

These days direct mail is unexpected.

One of the most basic ways to get attention is to break a pattern, creating the unexpected.

Consumers in this age of online marketing and social media see staggering amounts of digital information every day, so what is more unexpected than receiving a piece of direct mail? That’s breaking a pattern.

Direct mail marketing has been out of vogue long enough to be a novelty again. In fact, some B2B prognosticators predict a return of direct mail in the coming year as a multichannel differentiator used by savvy marketers.

RELATED: You want to send a letter? In the mail?!

In concert with your online marketing strategy, direct mail still offers solid advantages:

  • You can control the message
  • You can reach your target audience directly
  • You can drive a response from your target audience
  • There is less competition for mindshare in the mail box now

With renewed interest in integrating direct mail into multichannel marketing, it’s a good time for a direct mail refresher. Here are slides from a presentation I gave at the University of Minnesota College for Continuing Education on direct mail strategy and execution.

Integrating direct mail and social media

Done right, you can combine outbound targeting with inbound engagement to create a dynamic interactive experience. The key is to align your direct mail objectives with your online marketing objectives. This alignment gives a powerful one-two punch to:

  • Grow your social networks with incentivized calls-to-action offering discount coupons
  • Drive deeper engagement with a promotion by leading a prospect online
  • Expand the reach of a direct mail offer via social sharing

How is this being done today?

The integration possibilities are limited only to your imagination. Many of the multichannel approaches used today center on QR (quick response) codes and personal URLs (PURLs). Including a scannable QR code on the mailing piece allows you to interact with prospects at the moment of interest by:

  • Taking them to a microsite or personal landing page with custom content that guides them through the decision process
  • Giving more information via video demos or online catalogs
  • Offering discounts and the ability to order online
  • Taking them to a social media page to view testimonials and interact with your brand

Post card delivers

One case study using these tactics tells a compelling story of how well multichannel marketing can work.

A new restaurant franchisee used integrated direct mail and social media to bring traffic to the new store. They mailed 5,000 targeted post cards printed with PURLs that contained the customer’s name in the domain.

Customers were instructed to go to the microsite to activate a discount coupon. The microsite contained more coupons for additional discounts as an added reward for participating.

The customers were incented to share the offer with friends on social media. By sharing, they were entered into a sweepstakes to win free chicken meals for a year.

The campaign resulted in more than 14,000 visits to the microsite. That’s a 280 percent response from the original mailing of 5,000.

As you can see, there is great potential for leveraging direct mail with digital marketing channels. And, the prevalence of digital marketing makes direct mail seem new again. Unexpected, even.

What are your plans for direct mail this year?

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100 motivators to compel action by online visitors

Content marketers seek to engage online visitors and motivate response. They can benefit from what direct marketers learned by years of testing and measuring response rates.

Content marketers seek to engage online visitors and motivate response. They can benefit from what direct marketers learned by years of testing and measuring response rates.

Do you realize that if you are engaged in online marketing, you are a direct marketer?

Some may bristle at the notion of being associated with junk mail, buying prospect lists, telemarketing cold calls and other intrusive negatives linked to the direct marketing industry. But online marketing is the purest direct marketing medium ever created. It differs in its context, moving away from interruption/outbound communications to an inbound communication model.

But online marketing shares a definite kinship with direct marketing in its ability to communicate directly one-to-one with your audience. And it also requires motivating a response in order to be effective. That’s why successful online marketers have learned to incorporate classic direct marketing copywriting techniques into their content.

We are, after all, in the business of generating a response:

  • Clicking a link to more information
  • Clicking on a banner ad
  • Opening an email
  • Sharing and Liking content
  • Getting comments or survey answers
  • Placing, or adding to an order

Content that delivers value

The focus of online marketing has shifted to engaging with people who want to hear from you, rather than interrupting them. With that, it makes no sense to utilize direct marketing techniques to get a response if there is no payoff of value content for your audience. They will view it as a “click trick” and will abandon you with an unfavorable impression.

To succeed, content marketers have to arrive at the right balance of fascination and meaning. People are online to get answers or information that will enhance their life in some way. Your challenge is to find ways to draw them in from a mass of information options and then deliver on the promise of relevant value when they arrive.

RELATED: 7 secrets to sinfully persuasive selling

Content that motivates response

You’ve probably given a lot of thought to the value proposition of your product or service. The other piece of your content marketing is building your message into one that will motivate your audience to respond while supporting your brand promise.

Here is where we can benefit from the direct marketers who came before us.

I have spent many years of my career in the direct marketing world. During that time I studied the best practices learned by the pioneers of the industry. The impressive thing about them is they tested and measured every element of a campaign to maximize response rates and ROI.

One of the first generation direct marketing greats was copywriter Dick Hodgson. He shared tested and tried methods in several books, most of which are no longer in print. Over the course of his career he compiled a comprehensive list of the human motivators that drive response.

While the communication channels have shifted from print media to online, these motivators still resonate with the people we are trying to influence today. I have found this list to be extremely helpful for creating appeals that move the response needle. If you are looking for some idea-starters to inspire your content marketing, this list will help you too.

SOUND OFF: Tell me what you think. Are there some others you’ve used successfully that should be added to the list?

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Don’t give them what they want, give them BETTER wants

February 28, 2012 27 comments
the key to persuasive content marketing is appealing to powerful emotions.

To write content that persuades, appeal to the most powerful emotions.

Well-schooled marketing and sales professionals have learned the primary buying motivators read like the Seven Deadly Sins:

  • Gluttony
  • Lust
  • Pride
  • Wrath
  • Sloth
  • Envy
  • Greed

For copywriters the granddaddy of them all is GREED.

Denny Hatch has opined that marketers are in the business of creating wants. Building on this, economist Herbert Stein observed, “People don’t want their wants satisfied – they want BETTER wants.”

This condition goes all the way back to the genesis of humanity. Consider the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (I paraphrase):

They were living in Paradise. They wanted for nothing – leisure, peace of mind, abundance, direct communion with God. Enter the first salesman in the form of a serpent …

Salesman to Eve: “Try the fruit of this tree. It is delicious.” (product feature)

Eve: “I really shouldn’t. It’s supposed to be bad for me.” (objection)

Salesman: “Not this fruit. It will give you knowledge. Eat it and you will be as smart as God.” (overcoming objection with a benefit statement)

Salesman: “… You can try it now and pay later.” (the close)

Cynics argue that modern commerce is the continuation of the devil’s work in Eden. We persuade prospects they should want more, better wants. We prey on their greed, fear, guilt, anger, pride and lust to tempt them to buy. We manipulate their basic human emotions.

Related: Turn the wisdom of the crowd into raving social proof

Emotional triggers to persuasion

While emotions can be powerful drivers of buying behavior, such criticisms overlook the element of individual freewill and the choice of saying “no” to emotions. In the past decade we have learned much more about how our brain processes stimuli through the study of emotional intelligence.

We now understand that, evolved though we are, our brains are still hardwired to first perceive from the emotional center that triggers the fight or flight response. This links to the instincts that enabled us to survive as a species. Seth Godin calls it our lizard brain. That part that makes us contradict our rational thinking by acting in irrational ways.

3 types of motivation

But wait, there is more to consider before plugging emotional appeals into our selling and content strategy. And that is the relationship between emotions and motivations.

Related: The 100 greatest motivators proven to get a response

Psychologists know that emotions are the high-octane fuel that drives the motivations behind behavior. Studies have boiled it down to three basic types of motivation.

  • Approach motivation is positive desire that draws you to something good, either an object or an outcome. “I want to learn a new language.”
  • Avoid motivation is triggered by a desire to get away from something uncomfortable or low value. “I want to screen my calls from the bill collector.”
  • Attack motivation is extreme negative desire to devalue or destroy something. “I want to end world hunger.”

Thinking about the interaction between emotions and motivation helps us to better understand our customers and prospects. It helps to clarify our selling approach and content to make sure it aligns with our product and brand promise.

SOUND OFF: Tell me what you think. What are some of the emotional drivers you are using in your content strategy?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

Anatomy of the greatest brand story ever told

To blog is human

Is enchantment the new influence?

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