Day 20: The “Ok, so what?” test

Have you loosened up your copy since last lesson? Bet it feels way more relaxed.

In just a moment, we’re going to put it to the “Ok, so what?” test. But first, I’d like to tell you a bit about how to get your readers to nod along to your copy.

We’ve gathered that writing with the customer in mind is really effective in keeping them engaged. The more you refer to them and talk about their problems instead of yourself, the more they’ll be glued to the page and will keep nodding yes.

This is to say that benefits are super important when it comes to web copy. But what about the features? All those sexy, nifty functionalities your product offers, or the no-brainer advantages your service offers?

They have their own place when it comes to copy. Because people buy on emotional impulses, but then need to justify those emotional decisions with logic – features help them do just that.

You’ve probably seen a lot of websites listing everything they offer. A lot of them do it wrong.

Take a look at this:

As a big company these guys could probably get away with this, but you should pay attention!
Starting with the headline we can already smell bad copy. What does it mean to “revolutionise”? What’s in it for the customer?

And when it comes to the actual features, they could be way more effective.

Let’s put some of them under our “So what” test shall we?:

  • “Technology to capture supplier information, invoice totals and line item details.” -> Ok, so what?
  • “Smart automated invoice and purchase order matching plus exception handling.” -> Ok, so what?
  • “Automated accounts payable enabling real-time cashflow management and reporting.” -> Ok, so what?

It’s pretty clear how, if that question popped in the prospect’s mind (which is likely the case), a hole will be created. This hole will gradually start getting filled with objections, doubts and questions. Hence, goodbye new customer.

What if we prevent that from happening and provide those answers upfront? Let’s see:

  • “Capture supplier information, invoice totals and line item details like: descriptions, net amounts, VAT and gross amounts in a few clicks, instead of manually slogging through them.”
  • “Match invoices and purchase orders, and handle exceptions automatically to give you your time back.”
  • “Finally automate accounts payable and manage cashflow in real-time. Reporting included.”

Well, I’d say these are a lot less taxing on your brain and easier to read.

As you probably noticed, we didn’t change the entire sentence, we simply rearranged it in a way that sounds more human.

But also instantly gives the reader an idea of what’s in it for them.

Here’s the 3 main techniques you can use:

  1. Make sure you answer the “Ok, so what” question. Don’t leave them hanging.
  2. Turn passive voice into active voice. From “Automated accounts payable enabling…” to “Automate (you) account payable…”
  3. which leads to…

  4. Use the second person and the power word “you” (or “your”) as many times as possible.

Here’s a good example we’ve spotted in the wild:

I absolutely love this. It’s even harder in these short bullet points, but you can see how Basecamp was able to make the benefits come through, while keeping the copy easy and quick to skim.

So… back to you.

Your homework

For this lesson, your homework is to take the “Ok, so what?” test with your copy.

It’s good practise to do it for all your copy, but you can focus only on your features for quickness.
Ask “Ok, so what?” until you can’t possibly be any clearer. While keeping in mind everything you know about your customers from your customer research.

That’s all for this lesson.