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We dream when we are sleeping but I’d argue it’s possible to experience a dream-like state even when we are awake.
This isn’t such a fantastical idea because we recognize that we are in an altered state (what I call a dream-like state) while reading a particularly engrossing book or watching a captivating movie.
What I’d like to mention up front is that this is still very much a thought experiment for me. I can visualize how a concept like this would work but I’ve never actually been able to A/B test it.
It’s also a very difficult state to activate. It’s something only a highly talented copywriter is able to achieve.
But it can be achieved.
And I hope to rigorously A/B test this idea and report back on this blog post. For now, you will have to rely on the picture I see in my mind.
The basic idea
The idea itself is pretty straightforward— a visitor comes to your site looking to buy a product to solve a very specific problem. We start explaining what the product does in the product description section. But this explanation is very special. In fact, it’s the explanation that activates the dream-like state.
You see, typically on product pages, the descriptions are very much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get format. But it’s impossible to activate a dream-like state with that formula.
What’s special about a super talented copywriter is that they sidestep this black-and-white format. They start weaving a story that does two fundamental things:
— It causes the shopper to not want to look at competitor sites.
— It causes the shopper to vividly imagine a better life.
Not looking at competitor sites
This is a special skill but it’s not unrelatable. Think about dating. You see a few nice people. On one date you meet a very special person and there is an instant connection. As the evening proceeds, you conclude (to yourself) that you will invest all of your energy in this person and let go the idea of considering other people.
You have made a decision to continue exploring this relationship exclusively. At this point, you don’t even know if the other person feels exactly the same way about you but you do know how you feel, and that’s enough.
Something very similar happens when a shopper gets to your product page.
We tend to oversimplify by thinking shoppers love an ever-increasing number of options. Looked from an evolutionary perspective this couldn’t be right. Our brains are energy-hogging devices, consuming up to 20% of the energy that the body creates (source). Evolution has a strong preference to conserve this energy.
For a shopper, every alternative brand to consider places a huge energy burden on the brain. Therefore the shopper isn’t really interested in doing that. However, the shopper also doesn’t want to pick the sub-optimal option. These two opposing forces are working inside the shopper’s mind. That’s a stressful state. The shopper doesn’t want to feel this stress.
A super-talented copywriter is able to frame the argument in a way that lets the shopper know that this product will not disappoint and that while they can and are encouraged to look at all competing options they would likely not find anything as good as this one.
This idea needs to be communicated in a hyper subtle way because if the shopper feels that are being restricted they will rebel.
Cause the shopper to vividly imagine a better life
On a practical basis, we realize a new purchase can’t really alter our life but we still hope it will.
I recently bought a new MacBook. I’ve been using Apple products for over a decade, having bought many new laptops. Objectively I know a laptop isn’t going to change my life. At best, it’s a small improvement over what I have.
Yet, as I got sucked into Apple’s storytelling I found myself imagining this laptop transforming my life. This effect 100% was caused by “how” Apple was telling the story.
More work is needed
So this is where we are with this idea. A lot more work is needed and I’ll use this post as a living journal.
Now that you understand the importance of content readability let reveal other ideas to maximize content conversion rates:
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