Which one of these headlines works best?
- How to Get 6,312 Subscribers to Your Business Blog in One Day
- How to Get Over 6,000 Subscribers to Your Business Blog in One Day
- How to Get a Torrent of Subscribers to Your Business Blog in One Day
Most of us would choose the first as Brian did in his recent article. Why?
This is one prime example of the power of specificity in copywriting.
When faced with the first example we want to know how we can get those specific results too. It’s almost a given that we know the headline is referencing a real result.
Precise details help convey that you are telling the truth. A vague “guesstimate” is not going to have the same impact because a nagging doubt clouds the prospect’s mind. Without other concrete facts they might think that you are just making the whole thing up, or at least exaggerating.
Performance statistics and exact details are ideal examples of specificity in case studies, headlines and testimonials. They draw your eye, create curiosity, produce an aura of authenticity, and show attention to detail. For most people, specifics equate to cold hard facts, while general statements and “guesstimates” can damage credibility.
When might you NOT use specifics?
The first common situation where you will not use specifics is where a specific cannot be known, or where they might get you into legal problems if you try. Say you are writing a weight-loss advertisement. Specifics might well be available for past performance based on a survey of existing customers, but giving a specific weight loss prediction for future customers might land you with hundreds of angry calls from disappointed dieters complaining about your overly-optimistic “53.2lbs in 3 days” claims.
The second situation where a specific might not work too well is where using them would cause confusion or distraction. Technical or cultural details are the most common culprits. Either your reader could feel stupid for not understanding, or it might require too much explanation for a specific to be worthwhile.
You want your copy to flow. Ideally your reader will eagerly and happily read every line without pausing, all the way to the end. Including a specific that makes no sense to them is like creating a speed bump on the road to action.
Specificity is one of the most powerful copywriting tools. However, as with any powerful tool, using specifics that do not add clarity and credibility can cause more damage than good.