Small Hinges Swing Big Doors – 10 Small Actions for Big Improvements to Conversions

copywriting tips for rocketing conversions

When a campaign withers, plummets and bombs, the temptation can be to write it off as a dud. But sometimes it’s worth sifting through the debris. Sometimes all that’s needed is minor tinkering to turn a spluttering campaign into a rocketship. A phrase in direct marketing is ‘tiny hinges swing big doors’. Putting the metaphors aside, what this means is that small tweaks can create big improvements in response rates and sales.

Renowned copywriter Ray Edwards recently shared five small hinges on his podcast. I’ve ‘curated’ a few of his and added some of my own to create ten ways you can dramatically increase response to your existing campaigns:

1. Headlines – The single most powerful way of improving response is to change the headline. As David Ogilvy taught us, on average 80% of people will read the headline but only 20% will continue to the body copy. It follows that you can dramatically increase readership and response with a more targeted and interesting headline. Time and again, it’s been proven that headlines which offer benefits, build intrigue and tell the reader what they will gain if they read further are the most effective. Trying to be cute or clever will only turn off readers who don’t get the joke or see any point of reading further.

2. Short First Line – This is a tricked I picked up from copywriting genius Joe Sugarman. He describes sales letters as ‘slippery slopes’ in which they are structured to simply keep people reading. After the headline has caught their attention, the first line’s only aim is to get them to read the next line, and so on. A short first line minimises the friction. It helps to build velocity you can build on with short paragraphs, bullets and enticing subheads to keep readers sliding through your copy until they are ready to leap and take action at the end.

3. Go Old School. Send a Letter – Email’s low cost and measurability make it a true workhorse. It also has an ROI that puts social media to shame. But while readership of is on the rise (with two thirds now reading emails on a mobile device) you still have to battle for attention within a flood of marketing emails. So why not compete in a mail box with less competition? Nobody sends letters anymore, in this digital age. Use this to your advantage by sending a sales letter with a physicality that’s hard to ignore.

4. Preframe Your Offer – Preselling is a popular tactic in the affiliate marketing world. By writing reviews of other people’s products they give them the reassuring glow of third party endorsement. Any business can use this tactic. Consider review copies of your product to journalists and bloggers with Klout to presell it to their readers and followers.

5. Change the Format – Many people like to read. Others like to watch video and some even prefer listening to product information at the gym or on the commute. If a written sales letter isn’t doing the trick, consider creating a sales letter video with a downloadable audio version. That way you can max consumption of your message and expand its reach onto YouTube, Vimeo and more.

6. Images of Real People – People like looking at images of other people. Better yet, they like looking at photos of real people, rather than the beaming caricatures that populate the realm of stock photography. The best option is to use photos of people working within the company, or you can try sites like Flickr, Wikimedia and Openphoto for creative commons licensed images. Images of real people makes a message appear more authentic and trustworthy, driving up response as a result.

7. Change Your Offer – Your product might be a masterpiece of German engineering, Italian design and British luxury branding. But if you’re not pitching it the right way nobody will care. If your campaign is falling flat, find out why. Interview your customers. Do some market research with Survey Monkey. Look at what your competitors are doing. Find out what the hot buttons are and get prodding.

8. Post and Promote – Many campaigns fail because the client simply hits publish and hopes for the best. Rather than post and hope, the mindset should be post and promote. Use social media monitoring tools, like Hootsuite and Buzzbundle, to find bloggers and Tweeters with large followings and then reach out to them. Viral marketing might be a game of chance, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a little nudge in your favour.

9. Check Your Mobile – The rise of mobile has hit the restaurant industry like a hurricane. Those that have adapted are able to prosper from people looking for restaurants while on the go. Those still dragging their feet are left to count the tumbleweed blowing past empty tables. As mentioned, two thirds of emails are now read on a mobile device. If people aren’t responding to your messages, it might be worth pulling out your mobile to see what reading experience you’re giving them.

10. Get Retargeting – SEO is expensive, unpredictable and takes a lot of time and effort before you can expect to see results. Digital advertising has evolved to beome quite the reverse. With retargeting tools, you can display your ads to people who’ve already expressed an interest in your in your market or product. You can them lure them to your website without the king’s ransom of yesteryear. If you’re not yet retargeting, head over to Adroll or Perfect Audience to get your tracking code installed tout suite.

So there you go. Ten small hinges that can open big doors. Deploying a few of these will reinforce your ‘added value’ copywriter credentials and help to send campaigns soaring instead of bouncing along and flat lining after a few days. Any small hinges you’d care to add?

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