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  • Writer's picturekapil dwivedi

Guide 101: How t0 Write Microcopy that Motivates Action?


Achieving an amazing user experience is no easy task when it comes to designing and developing an intuitive product. Often, product managers get stuck in intermediate processes and elemental selections like user flow, UI designs, fonts, color schemes, and patterns. While making all these crucial choices and managing product development cycles, product managers neglect an extremely important discipline of UX writing called Microcopy.


Using microcopy is an effective way to motivate users to take action. It only takes a few seconds for users to decide whether an action is relevant to their journey through a product, as well as whether it will benefit them in any way. By using the right microcopy, you can dramatically improve your user retention, conversion, and satisfaction, and your product will serve its intended purpose.


This blog will cover the basics of microcopy curation, the relationship between microcopy and UX writing, as well as some tried-and-true tricks to help you write microcopy that works.



What is Microcopy?

By definition, microcopy is the cluster of texts present on the user interface of digital products right from the label on a call-to-action button to sample text in placeholders.

On a broader look, these small groups of words might appear insignificant when compared to the overall product design and flow. However, microcopy is small in size but has a significant impact on the overall user journey and experience.



UX Writing vs. Microcopy

Microcopy comes from the same branch of product-centric writing commonly known as UX writing. Both forms of writing have well-defined goals which primarily focus on communicating the right information to the right group of users at the right instance. The major differentiating line between both forms is the scope of communication.


UX writing is a broader discipline that focuses on the end-to-end user journey and facilitates product-centric communication. On the other hand, microcopy is a narrower discipline limited to UI text that potentially falls within the umbrella of UX writing.


An important point to be kept in consideration here is that it is incorrect to conclude that all microcopy is UX writing. You can consider microcopy and UI text interchangeable, but UX writing is a much broader discipline that encompasses several other nuances. Precisely, it focuses on communication for the customer at every instance throughout a long customer journey.


Now that we know our basics, let's take a closer look at gradations of microcopy curation and tips to motivate user actions via microcopy.


Emphasize the Value, not the Method

To develop a microcopy that stands out and provides an outstanding user experience, it is important to understand the typical behavior of a typical user. The typical user doesn't read everything word by word, rather they scan words on the screen. The perfect microcopy should be capable of catching the user's attention, bringing engagement, and leading to user action.


The key to achieving this goal is staying clear, concise, and cogent in terms of the language. Clearly communicate how the given action will benefit the user, what problems it will solve, and how is that one click or tap going to make their life easier. Now, if you already have a brand voice and tone it is the right time to bring that in and unravel the perfect microcopy.


Let's take a look at a few examples to gather a clearer understanding.


1. By using simple, clear, and persuasive language, SEMRUSH shows exactly what users will gain by signing up as well as explicitly mentioning the benefits.


2. Bamboo HR provides a subtle blend of a cogent brand voice coupled with a clear and strong microcopy showcasing the key benefits. A perfect example of a microcopy that is potentially capable of motivating users to take action.



Add Humour and Excitement to Humanize your Microcopy

A tried and tested practice that almost works in every scenario are the use of humor and excitement in microcopy. It has been shown that users who are happy or excited tend to be more cooperative and open to following system recommendations. Several surveys and statistics have indicated that users who are happy or excited tend to value the product more. As humans, we resonate more with content that sounds and feels more like our everyday conversations rather than a binary code.


A very important point to keep in mind here is that using humor should be subtle and not overpowering. Humour should never be derogatory, racist, sexist, or discriminatory. The use of slang or phrases to add excitement to the communication should always be respectful.


Excited and happy users are easy to motivate and tend to take action quickly. According to research by Clifford Nass, users are more likely to take actions with a slight motivation. Using the right microcopy at this point can do wonders for your product/service.


Let's go through some examples and see how adding humanization works in real-time.


1. Mailchimp uses subtle humor to convey an error message. This is a perfect example of humanizing your microcopy.


2. This microcopy adds an element of excitement by communicating the message with the right set of emotions just at the right time. And, the result is simple- motivated user actions.


Keep your Tone Respectful and Polite

The human mind doesn't like to be told what to do, rather it wants to analyze the entire scenario, observe closely the results, then decide whether to pursue the course of action. From that point of view, call-to-action buttons for me are an invitation to perform a certain action and not an order.


Aggressive marketing and content strategies might work for a given audience for a short span of time. However, they are not capable of building the perfect relationship between the service provider and the customer which is vital for long-term business. The idea is to create a long-term relationship with customers that relies on trust, loyalty, excellence, and continuity.


The key to achieving this via communication is using a microcopy that shows respect, love, and politeness to the user. In other words, do not use a boring and dull tone, but rather an active and attractive tone that shows respect. Do not use a tone that appears like an order to the user. A great tip to master this tip is thinking of brands you love and have been using for a long time. Think of their communication, tone, voice, and interaction with the user.


Here's a quick rundown on some examples:


1. Booking.com uses a balanced and respectful tone to persuade users to fill in feedback.


2. The slackbot does an amazing job when it comes to communicating vital pieces of information and helping users to perform an action.


Use Social Proof: Microcopy's Best Friend

Human beings are social creatures and rely heavily on social actions. An extremely useful and tested trick to curate microcopy that motivates user action is the use of social proof. Social proof refers to the process of making decisions by an individual based on the decisions of other people. A simple example is, that you'd always prefer to visit a restaurant with a lot of people instead of an empty one. Another one, You'd want to watch a movie with amazing reviews instead of one that is not even talked about.


We tend to make decisions inclined in the direction of social proof as we feel empowered by being a part of an imaginary community that has already been on the course of performing the same action. The use of positive social proof alongside call-to-action buttons, and triggers creates a massive impact by motivating the users to act.


Here are a few examples depicting social proof:


1. Take a look at how Figma drives users to perform the action using social proof.



2. The placement of a testimonial next to the call-to-action creates the perfect environment to use social for driving users to perform motivated actions.


In a Nutshell

It is clearly evident that microcopy is a powerful tool that plays a key role in motivating users to perform certain actions. The right microcopy coupled with the right user flow can dramatically change the conversion numbers for your product/service. So, the next time you write a microcopy use the tips mentioned in this blog and motivate your users to perform actions!

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