Microcopy, aka that small snippet of text that helps guide users through a process—such as placing an order—is crucial for any brand. As customers, we may not consciously pay much attention to the text on buttons, form fields, success pages, and 404 error pages. But as marketers, these micro-interactions present the perfect opportunity to optimize the user experience. Still not sold? Below are a few other reasons we marketers should carefully consider what we write in these tiny forms:
Microcopy is an extension of your brand
Any time your users need to fill out a form, click a button to land on another page, access a menu, or read the explainer text around a CTA, they’re opportunities for engagement or to further establish your brand identity. Create clean, concise, and personable microcopy and customers will have all the more reason to trust your brand.
Take 404 Error pages as an example. When brands use the standard, dry template, it’s a major inconvenience for customers. Instead of answering why their inquiry or action went awry or share next steps in an approachable way, they leave the users agitated and confused, wondering what went wrong. That’s not cute for any company.
IMDB’s on-brand 404 page is genius:
IMBD created a sense of familiarity with their page; customers know that while the link is broken, they’re still interacting with IMBD. This copy comforts and entertains users with a quote, while keeping the design simple. The only option is to click the link to go back to the homepage. No annoyance, unfamiliarity, or confusion, here.
Microcopy = onboarding’s secret weapon
If smooth onboarding determines whether a customer will stick around, microcopy is the oil that keeps the machine running. Think about the user entering your site. They have no idea what’s going on. You need to lead them to the end goal and hold their hand from start to finish. Microcopy makes it obvious where they’re supposed to go and which buttons to click. Your customers want you to lead them, to feel confident they’re using your site correctly and find what they need. Duolingo nailed their onboarding:
Duolingo prompts users to choose their goal, motivating them to think about why they’re using the app in the first place, so they’re more likely to stick with it. The clear simple language feels like a conversation, not an inconvenience. Lastly, the progress bar shows users exactly where they are in the onboarding process, creating anticipation for their lessons.
Use your words to explain any changes or obstacles
Don’t let a user feel like they went to your site for a specific reason and the entire experience was a giant, unhelpful detour. If they filled out a form incorrectly, let them know what went wrong so they can fix their answers. Few things are more irritating than taking the time to fill out a lengthy form, getting all the way to the end, submitting it, and then seeing that notice button that reads, “Error. Please resubmit.” No explanation. No helpful guidance. Nothing. I can’t be the only one who audibly sighs and considers whether the whole endeavor’s worth it. Here’s what an ideal form looks like:
You don’t need a huge explanation. “An email address must contain a single @” works beautifully. Here, the form lets the user know they submitted their form successfully. The playful tone encourages the user to move forward with the process, and the guidance is helpful. It’s a great example of how a little creativity in a small space can go a long way.
Before we get to the rest of this article, here’s more branding content from PostFunnel:
Can Written Content Make a Brand? The Danger of Lionizing DTC Outliers
Building Your Brand Personae
Transactional Emails That Create Returning Customers and Brand Evangelists
The overall gist
- Microcopy can either excite customers or bore them. Alleviate their frustrations or encourage them to jump ship.
- It’s a great opportunity to make sure your brand has a smooth UX from start to finish and add in personality in unexpected ways
- Even the shortest copies can deliver a huge impact
- The key to successful microcopy is precision. Use simple language, have fun with the copy (just make sure the tone and voice makes sense for your brand), and guide users on how to achieve their goal.