According to estimates, the average adult makes approximately 35,000 decisions every day. Shopify - the company that generated US$4.611 billion last year - leverages this fact better than any brand I've ever studied. How? By spraying their web visitors with a deluge of clear direction; which as we'll see later, relieves them of the stress of having to make yet more decisions.
Take a look at the below screenshots from Shopify's homepage. Notice anything unusually assertive (pushy)?
Most people dislike being pushed around, right? Apparently not, because Shopify is relentless in their use of action verbs.
WHAT ARE ACTION VERBS?
Action verbs are words that describe an action; be it a physical or mental one. In Shopify's case, action verbs tell the visitor what to do to become a Shopify user OR express the benefits they'll enjoy once signed-up.
Look again, but this time, I've circled Shopify's not-at-all delicate use of action verbs.
As I said above; relentless, but brilliantly so!
Let's marvel at their hailstorm of active verbs, shall we...
PLEASE NOTE: The above screenshots come from just one page - their home page. And, as you scroll further down, so continues the active verb hailstorm, but with accelerating velocity...
WHY ARE ACTION VERBS EFFECTIVE?
I recently delivered a copywriting seminar to a start-up brand, and when I showed them this, they gasped. They couldn't understand how they hadn't noticed it before. Why should they have? Because the start-up in question is a UK-based challenger to Shopify. My job, as their copywriting consultant, was to highlight the many powerful copywriting techniques Shopify uses to convert browsers into customers.
My question to you, then, is how assertive are you with your action verbs? In fact, are you giving your prospects any direction whatsoever via action verbs? Never underestimate how overlooked direction is in most Marketing comms, be it online or off. The cost of neglecting clear direction is significant, though, because as Signworld puts it:
'... customers are much more likely to act in a certain way if they are given clear direction, rather than a vague suggestion. We have so many decisions to make on a daily basis – especially decisions about what to buy and from who. If you give your customers clear direction, you take away the stress of making that one extra decision.'
Or, as the endlessly brilliant Copywriting Tips recently tweeted:
'... Commands are powerful because we don't receive that many simple, direct orders in normal life. So go ahead - use a command. Come right our and tell the reader what to do. Link your aims directly with your copy. Just do it!'
QUIZ: How many action verbs can you spot on our homepage? See below for your warm-up, but there are others hiding elsewhere on the page, can you find them?
[CONFESSION: Do you remember my recent analysis of this McDonald's ad? I didn't mention it at the time - 'cause I didn't want to overdo the analytical deep dive - but that ad uses action verbs with exquisite subtlety. Look again at those 6 words - 3 of them are telling you exactly what to do!]
Every adult visiting your website will make 35,000 decisions today. Naturally, the poor souls are exhausted from all that brainwork. Make their lives a little easier - grab their hand, give them an umbrella and drench them with action verbs.
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