But you’d be wrong.
Ryan Deiss’ Digital Marketer team recently showed the results of a test between two different website designs. One was a visually cluttered website layout created to get the visitor lingering longer on the website. Several columns, lots of visual distraction and text, multiple offers on each page.
The other one was a designer’s dream: a trendy, clean, breathable design with lots of white space. One item, one image and one buy button per page.
Which one produced more sales? Surprise! The jam-packed one — the one designers hate — bucked the current trend toward simplicity AND held customers’ attention longer while selling more products. The theory is that shoppers prefer a “cluttered aisle” over a neat one because they sense there’s a treasure hidden in there somewhere.
As a copywriter — and the designer/marketer of MyTeamConnects’ website and various small business landing pages — I like trying different things to see what sticks. Whatever attracts the right customer and helps them make a decision yes or no; that’s a great thing. If it increases sales for the e-commerce vendor and the customer enjoys it, then the clutter tactic piques my interest.
But cluttered copy is a whole ‘nuther thing. Extra words and disjointed ideas don’t work in sales copy.
Cluttered copy fails miserably in smaller, chunked-down bits of content, like PPC ads and banner ads.
Clutter only adds confusion to words and text. Better to keep it simple and concise.
What is cluttered copy within your website content? It’s copy that has too much going on…unnecessary words and ideas that fragment and catapult your reader’s thoughts in too many directions:
- Too many choking details about features…not enough dazzling benefits.
- Unrelated information your reader doesn’t need. Don’t always tell every thing you know. I.e. “Use this toothpaste to whiten teeth, freshen breath…and spackle drywall in a pinch.”
- Audience confusion. For example, in an article about smart phone apps that track a child’s physical location, you wouldn’t report how to level up in the popular new app game for kids. Instead, write to one person and don’t mix audiences.
- Appealing more to the head with reasoned logic, details and facts about the product…Dissing the customer’s heart by omitting action verbs and failing to mention “What’s in it for them.”
- Too much talk about you…not enough about your reader, the one person they’re really concerned about.
- Run-on sentences and endless paragraphs…vs. punchy sentences (a good mix of long and short) and not-too-long paragraphs.
Reading is in many ways a linear process. Readers on the web take every opportunity to fly over vast sections of uninteresting text. Speed-readers absorb words in visual chunks, and people skim (and skip) large portions of website content. They rely on a cohesive structure to make quick sense of text.
Words and ideas strung together haphazardly are like cars with transmission trouble. They make some noise, but they just don’t move people.
Readers (especially people searching for solutions) respond better to good writing technique and clear grammar. Good copy is like glue that holds a busy layout together.
Regardless of your website layout, the copy and content is clearer when it’s simple and straightforward. Each section of a “cluttered” layout is calling you to a singular action. Each element of your layout competes with the block of copy, image, ad or call to action right next to it.
Copywriters have no excuse for sloppiness, even within for an overly busy website layout. If anything, your copy and content need to be even more laser-focused on their purpose.
The simpler the story, the easier it is to tell. The clearer the promise, the easier the sale. In websites with a lot going on visually, the website content and copy must work even harder to help the customer make a decision.
As your eye flits around searching for the juicy bits, strong copy holds your attention by circling around, touching and zooming in on one main point. It pulls just one golden thread through the flotsam and jetsam.
That landing spot is rresistible to the roving eye — and smart marketers — because it opens the way for reader to take action.