Will Russell is the Founder & CEO of Russell Marketing, a launch marketing agency specializing in crowdfunding, Amazon & e-commerce.
It’s often said that people now have shorter attention spans than goldfish. Although this claim has been disputed, digital marketers know firsthand the challenge of holding someone’s attention online. After all, many users leave webpages within seconds of arriving. This means web content has just a matter of moments to grab the visitor’s attention and sell them on the content or product on the page.
A critical piece of a webpage experience that either draws the user in or pushes them away is the copy. In this digital day and age, less is more has never been more true. Simplicity is everything, including when it comes to your website.
A mentor of mine once looked at a landing page draft I had written. With only a glance, she said, “Cut every third word,” and handed it back to me. That’s stuck with me ever since, not as a universal mandate but a good rule of thumb. It aligns nicely with another practice I find integral to successful marketing: The acronym “KISS,” which means, “Keep it simple, stupid.”
I like to focus on KISS in all of my communications, from marketing to managing, personal to professional. My family often remarks on my one-line email responses. I’m the opposite of verbose; keeping things simple is part and parcel of everything I do. I often come back to a piece of advice my dad once gave me when I was preparing for a speech: “Will, keep it simple. Just tell them what you’re going to tell them. Then tell them, and then tell them what you told them.”
Could it be any simpler than that?
I took these lessons to heart and have focused on them ever since, particularly when it comes to copywriting. My marketing experience, however, has taken things a step further and added a fourth line to this principle: Tell them what to do next (known in marketing as a “call to action”).
A call to action is a tactic or device designed to drive a response from the user. Popular examples in e-commerce might be encouraging potential customers to add a product to their cart, asking website visitors to sign up for an email list or getting people to sign up for an online event. No matter how great the rest of your marketing, the call to action is the final piece of the puzzle, and keeping it simple is key.
Don’t try to be complicated or clever when crafting the call to action on your website. Be clear and concise. At this point in their journey, the potential customer has been primed by your marketing messages. Now, you just need to tell them exactly what you want them to do.
Beyond your call to action, it’s important to consider the actual language you use. I recommend saving the vivacious vernacular for Valentine’s Day love letters. Keep your web copy friendly, accessible and uncomplicated. Tools such as Grammarly can help with this.
Finally, in a world where our online browsing can happen on all sorts of screens, from palm-size phones to full-wall projectors, the entire user experience must feel easy no matter how your website, interface or content is accessed.
Remember, less is more, and white space is your friend. Don’t make the most important pieces of content hard to find. Don’t overwhelm visitors with information. And don’t use distracting fonts or unsettling color schemes. Make sure your webpage is easy on the eyes and simple to scroll through, and ask for as little as possible from the potential customer.
As Don Draper from Mad Men would say, “Make it simple but significant.” Or, those seeking credibility beyond a fictional Netflix character need look no further than the very real and very remarkable Leonardo da Vinci, to whom many attribute the statement: “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”
Whether you take your cues from this article, binge-worthy TV or brilliant minds from the Renaissance era, the result is the same: KISS. Keep it simple, stupid.
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Will Russell is the Founder & CEO of Russell Marketing, a launch marketing agency specializing in crowdfunding, Amazon & e-commerce. Read Will Russell’s full executive