But Is It Really Proven To Work Eight Research Studies Related To Copywriting

Hang out in any copywriting forum online, and you’ll soon encounter the refrain, “But what does testing show?” Educated opinions have their place, but quite often testing yields surprising, valuable insights. Sometimes testing results settle arguments and sometimes they get us thinking along entirely new lines.
To help pass along what’s known about copywriting topics from rigorous testing, here are summaries of eight research studies where people tested hypotheses related to copywriting or where they tested two versions of the same piece against each other.
1. Readability matters: Brands whose message scored at a fifth-grade reading level were 25 percent more likely to last to the five-year mark than those whose messages were more complex.
2. Puns can hurt: In one study, the cutest titles made white papers less likely to be downloaded. Shorter titles fared better as well. The most downloaded titles contained 20 percent fewer words than titles that most visitors ignored.
3. Wordiness hurts, too: When a test compared how well people performed tasks at a long-winded web site with performance at a concise one, the latter led to 58 percent more success in accomplishing the tasks.
4. Experience gets in the way: The more formal education and experience sales reps had, the more they tended to misjudge the minds of customers, in one study of 504 industrial buyers and the sales representatives who served them.
5. Familiarity helps: Comparisons with items closer to daily life lead to a better understanding and appreciation of abstract ideas. While 58 percent of people in a study rated a degree of accuracy phrased in terms of the distance between the sun and the moon as “impressive,” 83 percent rated the same degree of accuracy phrased in terms of the distance between Los Angeles and New York as “impressive.”
6. Focus on customers, not you: In comparing the response to a you-directed ad and one that just talked up the product, more than five times as many readers found the you-directed ad interesting than those who found the product-centered ad interesting.
7. Focus on benefits: A close look at more than 900 new product launches revealed that products using promotions that explicitly highlighted the product’s benefits were 75 percent more likely to sell well than products pitched with a broad, indirect message.
8. Numerals get attention: When you have numbers in your pitch, present them as numerals rather than in words, such as “16 percent,” not “sixteen percent.” Eye tracking studies show that digits attract attention from web site visitors who are scanning a page, even when they’re in the midst of a sea of words that users otherwise ignore.

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