The Changing Language of Online Copywriting

Many commentators, myself included, have highlighted that 2007 will be the year that the ethos of engagement marketing spreads. The collapsing level of trust in traditional advertising means it is time for a rethink on how businesses talk to their customers. Both the approach and language needs to change.

You now have to barter for an audience’s attention with the currency of transparency, honesty and value. Consequently, copywriters can no longer rely on just appealing to emotions and desires to garner a response.

The changing tone of marketing language was highlighted at the recent ‘Future of Information Summit’, New York. Delegates converged to share their theories on how to penetrate the perceived anti-advertising attitude of their customers.

David Berne, senior vice president of strategic planning at RPA advertising, discussed in his presentation how consumer values have changed since the 1950s. They now had to engage instead of just appealing emotionally:

“We thought emotions were more powerful ways of influencing and motivating behaviours versus reason, so what we tried to do with marketing communications was connect emotionally.”

RPA’s recent Honda Element campaign was a textbook example of the power of multi-faceted engagement, with a MySpace page, YouTube videos and interactive website. The campaign’s success was not simply due to bombarding consumers across more mediums, but because of the increased conversation it created. As a result, sales increased markedly by 4%.

“We believe very much that [the reason for its success was that it created] a dialogue,” hailed Berne. “We found out what was interesting to people and we built on that, which made the campaign more engaging.”

As David Berne from RPA recognised, the language of marketing communications has changed. You now have to be able to provoke a conversation when you speak to customers. Corporate claptrap and sales spiel will be simply ignored by consumers now deaf to being blatantly sold to. You now need to start a dialogue with your marketplace

Online copywriters should start thinking about adjusting their language to reflect the engagement philosophy. It was never been cheaper or easier to maintain communication with prospects and customers, long after the first sale, if you speak in a manner that they will listen to.

Adopting transparency and informative value in the way that you communicate is what will develop the sales process over the long haul. The ‘grab the cash and run’ attitude of excessive exaggeration, or ambiguous language, will be given short shrift by today’s web savvy consumers.

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