Nowadays, marketing along with creating a user experience that'll keep customers coming back comes in all forms and at all stages of the buying process -- including your product. Whether in your website, app, or ebook, every product you put out into the online world is an opportunity to enhance the marketing efforts of your business. After all, people tell each other about great products.

One company that's the poster child of witty puns, timely jokes and an overall fun demeanor is workforce messaging giant, Slack -- and given their current valuation of over $10 billion and their recent IPO, it's clearly working.

Earlier in the month, I attended a workshop run by Slack's content and design manager, Sara Culver, where she walked us through how the product team at Slack creates highly likable, clear user experiences with their copywriting. Here are some best practices she laid out, along with others I've found to be effective.

Use humor, but only at the right times.

Humorous, lighthearted copywriting baked in your product is an easy way to reinforce your brand to users. That being said, it's only recommended to use comical copy at certain stages of the user's experience. For instance, using a funny jab during onboarding, while a user is trying to learn the in's and out's of your product could leave them frustrated and annoyed.

Instead, only implement humor at what are called "end stages" and "empty stages" of the user experience. An end stage could be the web page a student sees after finishing a course your company created, or the Thank You page after a customers buys your products, while an example of an empty stage is a loading screen. These places don't technically need any functional copy to guide the user further along, making them a great place for a good quip.

Never let copywriting get in the way of functionality.

At the end of the day, copy is supposed to help clarify the actions users need to take, not complicate them. If a subtle joke or flash of personality will in any way confuse the user, whether it be on a button or email opt-in form, then don't do it. It's always better to be clear than clever. 

Don't guilt trip the user.

If you peruse the online world often, you've probably noticed email newsletter pop-ups that say something like, "No, I don't want to get ahead of my competitors" within the exit button.

The amount of out-of-touch, entitled brands that do this is astounding. In the mind of the user, the exit button copy might as well say, "No, I don't want to subscribe because I'm an idiot". 

Don't guilt trip a user if they didn't fall for your spammy pop-up -- it'll leave website visitors with a sour taste in their mouths, and do more harm than good in the long run.

Religiously stick to your brand.

Slack's brand is fun and relatable, kind of like your favorite uncle. That doesn't mean every brand is like Slack though. The brand your company has crafted might be more like your soft spoken grandpa or stern aunt. When it comes to the product copy you add, stick to the voice and tone your company has decided upon -- straying away from it will come off awkward.

Include action verbs in all your buttons.

To entice users to engage, be sure your copy on buttons and all other call-to-actions on your website or product are action verbs as opposed to nouns. For instance, instead of a button saying, "Articles", make it say, "Read Blog Now" or something along those lines. 

Avoid repetition like the plague.

Whether you're writing a story, an essay or product copy, repeating the same words over and over again (yes, even branded words) is never a good idea. Not only will it bore the user, but it'll make you come off as a poor writer, which will subconsciously erode trust between you and the visitor. This doesn't mean you need to be Shakespeare, it just means you should whip out the thesaurus every once in a while when busting out your product copy.

Don't rely on copy to fix poor design or functionality.

As Culver puts it, copywriting is often used as a "copy band-aid" for a hiccup in product design or functionality -- whether that's an unnecessary page or extra step in the process which shouldn't be there in the first place.

Avoid becoming reliant on copy band-aids any time you can. Instead, relay the design changes that need to be made to whoever's responsible for making them, and work in tandem with that person next time around to avoid future mistakes. 

Copy can be your secret weapon to viral, addictive product marketing and a loyal, avid fan base -- but only if you do it right. 

Published on: May 31, 2019
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