The goal of editing is to polish our sales pitch so that it expresses exactly what we’re trying to express in the
least number of fewest words.
Every word in our story is either taking the user one step closer to the sale or a step away. This is what makes editing so damn important.
Editing matters because users have limited attentions
Online shoppers are inundated with marketing pitches. They can’t cope and their attention spans have been compromised.
In 2019, advertisers spent $134.81 billion on Google (source). Up 15% from the previous year. This ad budget is competing for the $20,000 in annual discretionary spending for American families making $78,635/year (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
As a marketer, this is what I’m up against. This is my competition.
If we were living in a world where the shopper was seeing our sales pitch first thing in the morning it would be so much easier to sell because the buyer would be rested and able to give us her full attention. Unfortunately, by the time buyers get to us they’ve already had to deal with a whole bunch of crap (life). They’re exhausted and disillusioned.
Keep this mental image in mind as you edit your copy.
Weakest link breaks the attention chain
Copywriting is like casting a spell.
She may be seduced by the first 3 paragraphs of our sales pitch but if the opening of para 4 is weak, the spell will break. Once broken it’s hard to get the magic back and it’s likely the user will exit the site. And once she exits, statistically, it’s unlikely she’ll be back. We have only this one shot.
Editing doesn’t just help the final draft. The existence of the editing bucket also helps the creation of the first draft. It creates a safety net and frees the writer to pour their heart out in the first draft. It unburdens me from worrying about the final version while I’m untangling the first draft. And this facilitates the exploration of new, sometimes surprisingly good, ideas.
Without editing, I have nothing.
There are a number of things you can do to edit your sales pitch and make it more effective:
- Rearrange the words to improve flow.
- Cut out words that don’t really add to the pitch
- Switch words with ones that offer a bigger punch. In this case, instead of saying offer a bigger punch one could say pack more punch.
- It can even mean adding in a word to improve overall flow.
In the UNEXPECTED ADVANTAGE section above my first draft read:
The value of editing isn’t only the refinement of the message that you are working on currently; having the editing bucket also allows you to craft the right first draft. You see, if everything wasn’t a thing then it would be incredibly hard for me to write the first draft because I will be thinking about trying to make it perfect. Knowing that I have an editing phase allows me to just write down all of my thoughts at the start of the project and this invariably helps me discover arguments and hooks that I would have completely missed that I’ve been thinking about the final copy. So without editing, I have nothing.
The first draft was 113 words (622 characters) versus 65 words (384 characters) for the final version. That’s a 42.5% reduction in the word count. And I’d argue the final version is clearer and doesn’t lose anything. Editing is magical.
One more thing: let it marinate
A useful editing strategy is to create a time gap between editing exercises. If I’m editing and reach the limits of my attention -or- a point where I think it looks reasonably good I stop and revisit the next day. Reviewing with a fresh pair of eyes leads to completely new insights.
Now that we’ve established the importance of editing I recommend we zoom out and look at conversion optimization holistically. In this next article, we share everything we’ve learned A/B testing ideas over the last 11 years. It’s the most important article we’ve ever written. Link: How to Increase Online Conversions and Sales