How copy really DOES make a difference

Many moons ago, I did a copy test for ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, in which I was asked to describe the last product I bought as a result of an ad.

At the time, I think I claimed that ads couldn’t persuade me to buy anything I didn’t already want.

I was wrong.

You may remember a blog post I wrote last year, about Eve mattresses: Oh, what a lovely bit of copy

BoxThat copy was so good, I have now invested in an Eve mattress. It arrived three days ago in a beautifully branded box (see right).

It’s evidence that a simple value proposition and clear tone of voice actively promote sales.

I’m not surprised that Eve has been listed in the CoolBrands® survey 2016/7. Congratulations to them – and a good night’s sleep to me.

From sublime copy to ridiculous

This month, I also had cause to complain about a tunic that I bought online.

The reply I received looks as though it was written by a muddy-headed 12-year-old who thinks they have to write in Dickensian business English to be taken seriously.

I posted the final paragraph on LinkedIn, where people commented that:

  • It’s the written version of “your call is important to us” – obsequious and probably untrue
  • Old fashioned and wordy
  • Was it written on papyrus with a quill?
  • Obsequious in the extreme. Ugh! Some people love verbiage. It makes them feel ‘creative’. No one ever told told them ‘less is more’
  • I think they meant to say “We’re sorry, we’ll fix it”

Now, instead of feeling warm and fuzzy about this fashion brand, I now feel rather let down. What’s more, I haven’t yet received a replacement or refund.

Here’s the full text of the email they sent me. (If you can’t bear to read it all, just scroll past it. There are some more gems below.)


Hello Jackie

May we begin by sincerely apologising to you for the delay in responding to the email that you sent to us recently. [Company] is currently receiving a much higher volume of customer enquiries than is usual, hence it has taken us longer than it typically would do so to acknowledge your email. Generally, customers receive responses to their enquiries within 24 hours. Nevertheless we are sorry that this was not the case on this occasion.

Following the receipt of your email, your comments have been passed on to our quality control department for their reference on this matter, and we are pleased to be able to confirm that we wish to investigate this matter further. We do not expect you to cover the cost of returning the item and so you can click on one of the two links that we’ve included below in order to print a personalised returns label – depending on which link and delivery firm you choose to use, you can then take the parcel to either a local myHermes ParcelShop drop-off point or a Royal Mail Post Office branch. Please call us on [phone number] if in the event that you do not have access to a printer.

[Links]

Please ensure that you retain your proof of posting and tracking number until we have confirmed that your parcel has safely arrived with us. Thank you.

When you package the goods please be certain to include your invoice within the parcel. On the reverse of the invoice you will need to clearly state what goods are being returned to us, why they are being returned to us, as well as what it is that you wish us to do with regards to any refunds or replacement items that you require from us, i.e. you need to advise us on whether you would like for us to refund you for the goods being returned, or whether you wish for us to replace the goods. If you wish to exchange the goods being returned to us then you will also need to inform us of the items codes of the products that the returned goods should be replaced with. Should you no longer have your invoice then you will need to include a brief covering letter, which must clearly state the first line of your address, postcode and order reference number [number], as well as the information that you would have stated on the reverse of the original invoice regarding the matter of replacement items etc.

Upon receipt of your parcel, your goods will be handed to our quality control department for inspection and then returned to the manufacturer for further investigation if necessary. Once our quality control department have dealt with the matter and the return is ready to be processed then you will be issued with either a refund or replacement goods, which will depend on both stock availability and what it is that you request on the reverse of the invoice.

Please note that until our QC department have inspected the item, we cannot guarantee that we are able to offer monetary refunds, credit notes, or exchange the goods that are being returned to us with replacements.

Finally, may we once again sincerely apologise for both any inconvenience and disappointment that might have been caused as a result of the matter at hand, but please be assured that we’ll investigate the situation for you as soon as possible. If you could kindly contact us again in the meantime with regards to what is mentioned above then we will ensure that the matter is swiftly and efficiently dealt with for you.

Many thanks.

Kind regards,

[Name]
[Company]


On the subject of customer service

I experience a little niggle every month when I get the O2 bill for my mobile phone.

How many clicks do you think it takes to print the invoice for my records?

  1. Sign in
  2. Click ‘Bill analyser’
  3. Click ‘Invoices’
  4. Click ‘Invoice number’
  5. Click ‘Download’
  6. Click ‘Proceed’
  7. Click ‘OK’
  8. Click ‘My reports’
  9. Click ‘Invoice view export’
  10. Click ‘Save’
  11. Click ‘X’
  12. Click ‘Logout’
  13. Click ‘Invoice view PDF’
  14. Click ‘Print’

Answer = 14. Fourteen clicks! That’s an awful lot of work to expect a customer to do.

Even Microsoft make it easier than that – and I am not a fan of their ‘onmicrosoft’ user interface at all.

Top tip: Make the customer journey as easy as possible. Not just at the point of sale, but at every touchpoint during their experience of your product or service. It’s ALL marketing.

And finally…

You might be amused to read these responses from WeBuyAnyCar, Sainsbury and Google, remembering that your brand is judged by ALL the copy you write.

We buy any car

Sainsbury

Google

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