Plain-spoken Online Conversion Rate Newsletter - covering web design, sales, marketing, copywriting, usability, SEO, relationship marketing and consumer psychology.

Are Your Messages Remembered Long-Term?

Electrical memory is short-term. It's the thought you are thinking right now… no, right now … get it? It's imagination, the ability to see possibilities in your mind. It is temporary by nature; the RAM of the human computer that is your brain.

When you go to sleep, your brain powers down, and most of what is in electrical memory gets lost during the nighttime (kinda like when a PC is switched off and short-term memory, RAM, disappears). Sleep causes the information in electrical memory to fade according to its relevance. More important information doesn't fade as fast as the trivial stuff.

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"What a wonderful site! You know how to put the powerful academic principles of marketing and sales into practical language. A great asset for getting past the current day hype in marketing."
Professor Allen Weiss,

Here we stand … the possibilities of email messaging in one hand, the nature of memory in the other. So the critical question is this: How relevant are your short-term messages? Better still, how relevant are the messages you want your customers to remember over the long haul? How can you make sure your prospect is going to remember you the morning after?

Electrical memory is of limited capacity. If you try to add an item to it, the new item pushes out a previous, less-relevant one. Imagine aiming a fire hose at a teacup. ALL the information coming at you - TV, Radio, Web pages, Newspapers, Emails, Billboards, Direct mail, Fliers, Music, plus what your kid swapper her peanut butter and jelly sandwich for at school - is the water consistently and vigorously trained on the teacup (a.k.a. your brain, or more specifically, your electrical memory). Some of the water stays in the teacup; the rest spills out. Relevance determines which "water drops" stay in - you store in electrical memory only that information that’s important to you at a certain moment in time.

Once you get a message to stay inside the teacup, the human computer works on transferring it from electrical to chemical memory.

Chemical memory is long-term, stored memory … it's all the things that you can remember. It's like your computer’s hard disk. If you really need to store your data so you can get it back, you save it to the hard disk before you power down your computer. Unlike the ephemeral RAM of electrical memory, chemical memory is the repository of “known information” from the hard drive of the human computer.

Chemical memory, business-wise, is “top of mind awareness”; it is being the company your customers think of first and feel best about whenever they need your products or whenever your product category is named. In other words, branding.

Advertisers try to “whip people into action” with the urgency of a limited-time offer. They can be sure at best, that if their message is relevant, it will stay in electrical memory only until the expiration date, after which it will be erased forever from the brain.

When an advertiser focuses effort on limited-time offers, the only thing that makes it into chemical memory is: “this advertiser makes limited-time offers.” In essence, the advertiser is training the customer to ask, “When does this go on sale?” Surely you're in business for something grander than that!

Three things can be done to increase the transfer of a message from electrical memory to chemical memory:

· Increase the relevancy of the message

· Increase the frequency of its repetition

· Increase the relevancy of the message and the frequency of its repetition

Branding is accomplished only when you have a relevant message that is repeated with enough frequency to become securely stored in chemical memory.

Buy-now messages are immediate, direct response-type messages by nature, while build-identity messages are aimed at meeting deeper, more long-term goals. And it is possible for your communications to do both. You can convey, in the same communication, a powerful, long-term branding message accompanied by one or more short-term, direct response messages. Putting all your eggs in the Short-Term Message Basket will lead you nowhere. Without strong, long-term, brand-building messages integrated into your communications, you are harming your chances for long-term success.

Remember, some of the people receiving your messages don’t need what you sell right now. What are you saying to them? How are you making them feel? Who will they buy from when their need arises?



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Debbie Weil's Wordbiz just published a Case Study about one of Grokdotcom's readers. Check out Future Now's CIO, Bryan Eisenberg on BEFORE and AFTER home page copy that engages and converts visitors. Enjoy the article.


The Power of Being More Personal Online

He's baaaaack! It just won't do for us to go saying copywriting online is different… you gotta see the difference in action. You need concrete examples. You need comparisons. You need an angle. And you know we wouldn't dream of leaving you in the lurch. So join me - here, I've saved you a seat - while Nick Usborne graciously picks up where he left off last time in our mission to help you make your online copy high-impact.

In my last article I talked about some of the underlying reasons why copywriting online is different from copywriting for broadcast, print, direct mail and other offline media. I described online audiences as being quite different - because people online are connected, vocal and active within the online environment.

You can’t write ‘at’ people online. Instead, you have to connect ‘with’ them.

This shift in approach makes many demands on an online copywriter.

First, if you want to connect with people online, and be genuine about it, you have to ‘know’ those people a lot better than you do when you write a billboard or print ad. You have to dig deep to find out about the people with whom you want to connect.

How do you get to know them? Listen in to your customer service calls. Read customer service emails and online chat. Lurk in related newsgroups. Study the logs of your site. In short, take the time to find out what makes your audience tick. What’s important to them? How do they write? What terms and phrases do they use?

Once you have done that - once you have a close sense of the people to whom you are writing - you’ll be in a better position to write copy that truly connects with what’s important to them.

Here’s a simple starting point when you put pen to paper or keyboard to monitor…

Make it personal.

Copywriting offline is largely impersonal. But online, everything is personal. So you need to change your language.

As an example, here’s what Apple are saying on their homepage about the iMac computer:

“Four years ago we introduced the first iMac. It changed the way people use computers. It changed the way people look at technology. Some people even said it changed the world. Now, six million iMacs later, we’re doing it again.”

And here is what a couple of people said about the iMac in their reviews at

“My husband had never before turned on a computer, he has within 3 short months come farther than most, because of the ease of use of the Apple architecture. These machines are designed to be user friendly... no endless hours trying to figure out what a .dll file is anyway!”

“I have hated all things Apple for so long, and so very vocally, that it literally pains me to admit that I like the iMac. Okay, fine, I love the damn thing, stupid circular one-button mouse and all. I have even willingly stood silent as my longtime Mac-loving friends grasped hands to dance the Hubris Horah around me.”

Apple’s copy is inward-looking and self-serving. “Some people even said it changed the world.” Really? Well, maybe Steve Jobs and his family think so.

The Apple copy has a very typical, offline feel to it.

But what if we were to learn a little from what those two people at epinions wrote? Maybe we could come up with something a little more real; something that actually connects with regular buyers.

“We admit it. The new G4 iMac looks a little strange. A little like a big shaving mirror with a fat stand. But we think you’ll like it! That flat screen gives a beautiful, bright, distortion-free image. And the G4 processor is going to blast you right up into multimedia Heaven.”

We could work on that a little more. But you get the general idea. Say good-bye to that self-serving, Madison Avenue ‘ad copy’. And say hello to a more personal style that is in tune with what your customers are saying and feeling.

The same goes for your emails.

Here’s a welcome email from

“Dear Nick Usborne,

Welcome to SnapNames, helping to secure your domain.

To make changes or additions to your account please use the following username and password.”

They put my name there - but they didn’t manage to make their welcome personal.

Here’s a welcome from No name, but a lot more personal and engaging.

“Well, you've done it now. By opening a Customatix account, you've just changed the way you're going to buy athletic shoes forever. Be careful. The surgeon general reports that designing your own cool athletic shoes can be highly addictive.”

Do you have to be that casual? No, but you do have to make an effort to write in a way that better makes a personal connection.

Copywriting online IS different. You need to get to know your audience better - and you need to write to people in a way that is a whole lot more engaging and one-to-one.


Developing relationships. Connecting with folks. It's what the Internet has always done best, and you can turn it to your advantage if you take the time to understand what your copy needs to do so you can create copy that earns its keep.

Reaching for that high-impact brass ring? Then take my Number One Tip and grab yourself a copy of Nick's book, Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy so you can check out his top ten online copywriting tips (plus all the other great things he has to share).



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GROK is taken from the landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein. It is a Martian word that implies the presence of intimate and exhaustive knowledge and understanding. Our "GROK" is a keen observer of the world around him and he takes a particular interest in the World Wide Web. The folks at Future Now like him a lot because he's taught them that "sometimes the price of clarity is the risk of insult."

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