Attract Repeat Donors With Copywriting Based on Brain Science
If you made it this far into the article, congratulations! You’re among the mere 20% who are likely to read beyond the headline.
That’s right. On average, only two out of 10 readers stick around to see what you’ve likely spent hours crafting.
And this is why effective copywriting is such an important part of the donor acquisition and retention strategy.
What's more, you’re not just competing against shrinking attention spans. You’re also up against myriad other nonprofits and marketers vying for the same valuable real estate in your donors’ minds.
So, how do you win and sustain their attention?
The truth is, effective copywriting is a craft that takes some practice. But the good news is, it can be learned and there are actually a few neuroscience-backed tactics you can start to apply immediately to help you create messages that are “sticky” and inspire action.
Content Marketing Versus Copywriting: There’s a Difference
First, let’s clear the air. Content marketing and copywriting are not one and the same. The two terms are often used interchangeably. But where the former focuses on educating, building trust and delivering some sort of value, the latter encourages specific and immediate action.
Copywriting is what converts lurkers into advocates and visitors into donors. And this is precisely why neuroscience is so valuable in crafting compelling copy. With that in mind, let’s explore three of these brain-stimulating approaches.
1. Cognitive Fluency
Cognitive fluency, or processing fluency, is the ease with which the brain processes information or completes a mental task. It may come as no surprise that we prefer things that are easy to think about. And, as it turns out, when concepts are easier to understand, they tend to be more believable.
How do you tap into this? One way is through familiarity. In fact, research has shown a strong link between familiarity and fluency. It’s also a significant motivator of human behavior because things that are familiar don’t require as much mental work.
When something is familiar, it creates a mental shortcut that most associate with ease or fluency. That’s why the most effective copywriting distills complex problems and solutions into simple terms, and uses more common words and phrases and a more conversational tone.
This goes back to the old marketing mantra: Keep it simple stupid (KISS). To employ that focus on the rule of one to identify:
- One reader. Choose one persona or donor and speak directly to them.
- One big idea. Showcase your most powerful benefit.
- One call to action. Emphasize the most important action you want donors to take.
Give prospective donors one call to action — and one only. Don’t let your marketing brochure or email campaign become multipurpose. Too many options create disfluency. It’s a cognitive alarm that often causes people to second guess their initial gut instincts and move into analytical mode. This can lead to decision fatigue and inaction.
Focus on one reader, one big idea and one call-to-action using strong verbs and brief phrases. Speak directly to the donor and be specific about the desired outcome. This could include:
- Join our community.
- Make a difference now.
- Become an advocate today.
- Join the cause.
2. ‘Reason Why’ Copywriting
Coined by copywriting expert Gary Bencivenga, “reason why” copy backs up your ask with evidence and authenticity. It tells donors or prospective donors why they should care and why they should take immediate action.
The brain finds information gaps very unsettling. Providing a “why” is like closing the loop. It’s like the resolve at the end of a good book or movie. A strong “why” can also make donors feel like the hero in the story.
For instance, “Become an advocate today because students like Pierre are counting on you to keep arts programming alive in their community.”
A simple way to incorporate this is to use the word “because.” And research shows it doesn’t matter much what follows that “because” as long as you justify why they should take action and close the information gap.
3. The Primacy/Recency Effect
By now, you might be detecting a pattern. The brain is all about efficiency. It’s part of our built-in survival mechanisms. As such, in an effort to preserve energy, the brain tends to focus on words at the beginning (primacy) and end (recency) of a sentence, paragraph or entire story.
Thus, word placement matters. And crafting a compelling headline matters. A good headline will draw the reader in by:
- Speaking to a pain or desire.
- Grabbing and holding attention.
- Building intrigue and curiosity.
- Offering instant clarity—an “A-ha.”
Equally as important is the opening paragraph. You see this in good journalism, in which all of the pertinent information is front loaded in the first paragraph. Good storytelling will also introduce the problem or pain early on and finish with a solution or some sort of action.
Effective copywriting can take time to perfect. Keep practicing and testing. And remember to keep it simple, conversational and specific.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.