Microcopy: what they are and when to use them

When it comes to content marketing it is very important to use words appropriately, trying to make them suitable and versatile based on the context and target audience. Usually, sales or information messages must be designed and implemented so that they capture the reader’s attention and, indirectly, affect his emotions.

In quest’ambito, punto di collegamento tra la scrittura e l’empatia, si colloca il microcopy.

What is a microcopy?

A valid and comprehensive explanation of the concept of microcopy has been given by Christopher Murphy and Nicklas Persson in their book “A Pocket Guide to the Craft of Words”:

“It is the craft of words at a micro level, evaluating how words can satisfy a functional requirement, aiding and enhancing interactions with design, optimizing interfaces in both function and usability, and helping a user on his journey".

In essence, microcopy is a small piece of text that drives the user experience through an app, email, or website by providing clear, detailed information while remaining short and concise. Furthermore, it serves to enhance the benefits and advantages deriving from the purchase of a product or service by inviting the user, with convincing and persuasive words, to deepen and take an action.

Why is microcopy important

Among the various techniques that content marketing can use to get straight to people’s hearts, microcopy proves to be one of the most effective.

Its importance derives from at least 7 main factors:

  1. simplifies: guides the user keeping him away from confusion and misunderstandings and facilitating his purchase path;
  2. enhance the details: inserting effective phrases addressed directly to the user, perhaps wishing him a good morning or reminding him of the day of the week, makes the difference and allows a brand to be remembered more easily;
  3. humanizes: the web is a world we approach every day, therefore trying to make devices, software and apps more “human”, transforming them into real workmates for those who use them, can certainly be successful;
  4. surprising: short but witty phrases, which use metaphors or proverbs, able to entertain the user especially in moments of downtime (e.g. 404 error) are perfect for making you smile and making navigation enjoyable in any case;
  5. reassures and encourages: microcopy is also and above all useful for the laziest and most clumsy users, who often get lost in completing an operation by not being able to keep up with the various steps to be taken. It encourages them to go ahead and reassures them that everything is proceeding in the right way;
  6. personalize: addressing the user using their name is a super effective way to connect and create a lasting bond, above all because they will feel special and, consequently, encouraged to return;
  7. accompanies the images: the microcopy reinforces the message of photos, emoticons and illustrations, creates a feeling with the user and tries to entice him to continue browsing.

How to write effective microcopy

The drafting of a microcopy generally follows the same rules as content in general: you create an editorial plan, select the topic of the day and start working on it. Considering that it will be a very short text, here are some suggestions to avoid mistakes:

  • make a list of points to be covered;
  • make the points protagonists of a story to be told;
    jot down the text using very few words;
  • cut the superfluous, therefore repetitions, redundancies and all that is not needed;
    provide for a final CTA;
  • choose a catchy title;
  • insert little punctuation (at most one final exclamation mark or colon);
  • write only the title in capital letters;
  • prefer active and non-passive, positive and non-negative verbal forms;
  • in case of sponsored, continue to cut.

These 10 points can certainly be useful for writing a concise, effective and persuasive microcopy at the right point!