The role of simplicity is an absolutely intriguing topic to me, and it’s been kicking around mostly in digital marketing circles.
To give the short answer to the question above: yes and no. Simplicity has always been the best creative, as we can all still hear Madison Avenue Creative Directors shouting JUST KEEP IT SIMPLE. But now, as attention spans continue to dwindle and channels continue to emerge, simplicity is more important than it’s ever been. In fact, goldfish actually have longer attention spans than people do.
GOLDFISH…really, guys? But, we can capitalize on that need for simplicity. Here’s how.
Forward-thinking writers with courage to radically simplify: This is a trend that really hasn’t expanded beyond a select few savvy writers. As a copywriter myself, there’s always a strong reluctance to write a simple headline. We’re paid to explore and be profound, not simple, right? But, sometimes simplicity just flat out works better. And it can even be more challenging to make something simple than intricate.
The best example I have on this is an iPad application (that a sales force would use for customer meetings) I worked on with a UX team and a more progressive creative director. Essentially, this product had 3 key features we needed to communicate. So, we made each headline the simple 2-word benefit. The benefits this created were significant mainly because we asked all the right questions to land on this strategy.
Q: How do sales people hold the iPad?
A: Differently. Some hold in the middle, some hold on one side, etc. So, a headline across the whole page would likely be blocked out at the top by some and a 2-line headline would be blocked out by others. However, a short 2-word headline would be visible for most holders.
Q: How close are sales reps to customers during meetings?
A: Far away. Some are 3-4 feet, others are showing to an entire room and some even project the iPad app to 100+ people. So, the bigger the headlines, the more likely they will be read.
Q: How much time do sales people have with customers?
A: Usually, seconds. And most sales people aren’t tech-savvy, so the small 2-word headlines helped sales people tell a quicker story and avoided the fumbling around/shuffling through screens.
The same headline on landing pages: We can hear some of the writers gasp… “I can’t use the same headline twice.” But, the smart ones know that you absolutely should. In fact, if you can use the exact same headline on ads, social posts, emails, etc. and landing pages, you can create an even simpler experience.
For example, if you’re running a PPC campaign targeting table tennis players and you’re racquet creates more spin (let’s just call this product The Spino Paddle), you might make your ad headline: “Max Spin Ping-Pong Paddle.” It’s relevant, so a user clicks on it. Then, this person is directed to a specific landing.
Now, if that landing page has a headline that reads “Spino Paddle Used by 85% of Pros” the user might think that he/she is at the wrong page and quickly leave. But, if your headline reads “Max Spin Ping-Pong Paddle” the user can be sure he/she is at the right place. Why? Because it creates a simpler experience. Bonus points: using the same keywords that you’re targeting on your landing page may even boost your quality score.
This effect is termed “conversion coupling,” and it helps people be sure they made a good click. Check out more from Oli Gardner on conversion coupling on moz.com.
Simplifying User Experiences: UX has been the industry darling for the past few years, and with very good reason. If you could boil this entire focus down to one key strategy, it would be simplicity.
UX (and most digital marketing) pros study heat maps, button colors, design options, copy, adding/removing elements, user flows all to make experiences as simple and seamless as possible. The ideal end goal is to create an experience that is absolutely automatic and requires the least amount of thinking as possible.
If users have to try to think about where to go, within seconds they’ll be gone. Talk to UXs, and they’ll tell you that the #1 reason why people quickly leave a site is because they were frustrated that they couldn’t find what they wanted.
That then begs the question, is simplicity THE MOST IMPORTANT THING?