Buy Now! Confirm Purchase! Subscribe! At this point, anyone who’s joined an online newsletter, bought a book off of Amazon or secured airline tickets on Expedia has seen these short call-to-action phrases that plead for them to seal the deal. That is called microcopy and it may be short in length, but it is intrinsic to your site’s user experience (UX) and can highly influence whether potential customers buy your product or service.
The purpose of microcopy is to inspire user action. Whether that action is to add a product to a digital cart, subscribe to a weekly comedy podcast or submit credit card information to begin a free trial of Netflix, there is always a button begging to be clicked.
Where the strategy comes in is the endless variable that is human psychology. In around three words or less, how can I convince you that clicking this button is worth your time, that entering a search term in my marketplace will yield the results you need, or that tapping “buy” on a checkout page will secure your purchase? Well, there are quite a few important factors to consider.
Following an extremely helpful guide by Udit Gupta for UX Design, we have compiled and simplified three primary thoughts you should have before carefully crafting your microcopy.
- Anxiety is the Enemy: As someone with admittedly high levels of anxiety in his personal life, the last thing I want is a case of the nervous sweats before I hit “confirm purchase” at checkout. To battle that stress, effective microcopy will provide supplementary information that puts users’ minds at ease. For instance, maybe an “Add to Cart” button will be paired with microcopy underneath explaining “You will not be charged until checkout.” A little clarity and reassurance go a long way.
- Calm the Shock: Would you give your credit card info to a stranger? Of course not. This is the challenge many companies encounter when asking for sensitive information from potential new customers. Explaining exactly why this information is needed is vitally important. Why do I have to enter my phone number in checkout? Why do you need my credit card information when signing up for a free trial? If you can provide some answers, you can calm the shock and knee-jerk “no way” response many people will have to these questions. For example, being upfront about a subscription fee if the user doesn’t unsub before the end of the trial period is vital to not only being ethical but gaining trust.
- Ask it Nicely: Though the question itself is important, there’s a lot of power in how you ask it. Microcopy is brief by nature, but that is no excuse for it to be curt or cold. Instead of “Rate Us!”, why not try “How Was Your Experience?” Little touches like this are invaluable to improving user experience and creating lifelong fans (and return customers).
Microcopy in Action
What good is advice if we don’t practice what we preach, right? With that in mind, check out how we incorporated some key principles of effective microcopy into our own website to attract new clients and newsletter subscribers.
- We spell out our intentions: Findsome & Winmore wants to start a dialogue with you in order to see if we can be of service and potentially begin a partnership.
- We ask nicely: Instead of coldly saying “Contact us” or “Inquire for more information,” we ask visitors to “Tell us where you’d like to go…” (which plays off of our exploration-themed branding and is far more welcoming).
- We explain what you’re getting: Instead of just saying “Subscribe to our newsletter,” we go into just enough detail to entice and explain what people can expect from us, namely, marketing tips and advice.
At its core, good microcopy delivers by putting users at ease, explaining what they’re getting into by clicking and making requests nicely. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to insert more personality into your messaging. Though it may be tempting to go with a less-is-more approach, I implore you to take a second to strategize before slapping “BUY NOW” on that digital button and calling it a day. You may not have much room to work with, but with a little creative thinking, you can really maximize your limited word count and make your user experience that much better.