Influencing consumer behaviour is hard.
But Nick Myers, Head of Planning at Oliver, is a pro at copy that makes people take action.
He uses behavioural science to influence customers. Working with brands like Barclays, RNLI and Royal Mail, he’s planned campaigns that have smashed their targets by tapping into how people think.
How? Luckily for us, he stopped by to share his knowledge. Read on to find out how to write comms that get people to take action.
1. Where to start 🏁
Start with an insight. A truth that will get people to respond.
Insights can come from a range of places. Primary customer research, following the news, seeing what people are talking about on Twitter, and even just people watching are great sources.
It should be true, relevant, and motivating enough to get someone to take an action.
You can use facts to come up with insights, like so:
•Fact – parents are more likely to go on holiday during June and August.
•Observation – they struggle to pay because prices are higher during this time.
•Insight – if parents don’t go on this holiday, they feel guilty and like they’re letting their kids down.
2. We’re all biased 👀
How do people behave? How can you tap into this to get them to do something?
Once you have your insight, work out how best to use it.
There are loads of different behaviour biases you can use to influence people with your comms, from scarcity to availability. Nick always consults his board of biases before starting a campaign.
Nick used endowment bias, which means people value things more when there’s a bit of themselves in it, to help Royal Mail get more people into stamp collecting.
By getting people to create themselves in Wallace and Gromit style on social, they managed to get 70K customers collecting Wallace and Gromit stamps.
3. Get writing with Cobra 🐍
Now it’s time to write.
When creating copy to get people to do something (buy, sign up for something, donate) Nick uses the Cobra framework.
• Connection – how can you grab your audience’s attention? Stop people in their tracks, usually with a headline. It needs to be relevant and engaging.
• Offer – what product or service are you offering and how will it help your customer? Make it easy to understand, for example 20GB of data for £20, rather than 32GB for £28.
• Benefits – what are the supporting benefits? These are the main ways the product or service will help.
• Reassurance – what might stop customers from buying? Address their concerns before they have them.
• Action – what do you want customers to do? How do they do it? This is your all important CTA.
If you’re writing something shorter like a banner ad, you might not be able to fit all five stages. Nick recommends focusing on C and A to get people to click, then showing the rest of the info after click through.
4. How to change behaviour 🧠
People don’t like change. Make it as easy as possible for them to change behaviour.
If you want to get someone to change their behaviour, you need to:
1.Make it seem normal.
2.Build it into routine or habit.
3.Make sure they don’t have to put much physical effort in.
4.Make it mentally easy – message simple to understand.
5.Make sure they don’t have to put loads of time in.
6.Make sure it’s not too expensive.
☝ This is based on the BJ Fogg Behaviour Model if you want to find out more.
5. Test, test, test ✅
Test the life out of your content. Iterate based on the results.
Test everything from the time of day you send to the level of personalisation you use. Have a look at Nick’s handy diagram to see the full range of things to test.
You can also test to see if your copy is any good before it goes out. Nick uses three tests:
1.Samourai test. Take 6 deep breaths. What does your gut tell you afterwards?
2.Rational test. Walk away for a bit (ideally overnight) then look again. Consider if it meets your objectives, if it fits in with your TOV, etc.
3.Practical test. If you saw this piece of comms, would you forward it to a friend or talk about it?
If you enjoyed reading Nick’s top tips for clickable content, watch the full talk for even more insights.
Charlotte & The Copy Club Team
p.s. Check out some of Nick’s fave books to learn more:
• Seeing What Others Don’t by Gary Klein (this helps with insights).
• The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton (this lists out all behavioural biases).
• How to Write Better Copy by Steve Harrison (help writing copy that drives response).
• Test Advertising Methods by John Caples (also good for direct response).
• The Adweek Copywriting Handbook (examples of ads and tips for writing).
• The Copy Workshop (helps you write like an agency writer).