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Microcopy = Macro-Punch for Pharma Websites

Michelle Ziekert

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Recently, a colleague shared a link about a little item known in the industry as "microcopy." Not new at all, just newly named, microcopy is best defined as "small yet powerful copy" that guides a user to a next step of action. Beyond the overdone "click here" and "learn more," microcopy tells a user what’s coming next. It reassures a user that what he’s going to get on click will be worth his time. Even more, it can quickly overcome doubt.

Online address book Plaxo’s registration quickly explains why gender is being requested and how it will be used.

"It’s also a great bridge between writers who strive for accurate experiences and designers who strive for impactful experiences that are uncluttered."

Strategic, often searchable and largely set at small font sizes, microcopy presents a great opportunity for websites to connect with target audiences on a more personal level and overcome reluctance to engage with site, and brand. Because when microcopy reflects the personality of your brand, it builds trust and reassures users. It’s also a great bridge between writers who strive for accurate experiences and designers who strive for impactful experiences that are uncluttered.

Google Chrome’s error message not only speaks directly to its target, it alleviates some frustration with humor.

At this point, many sites have realized preloading search fields with real terms are good investments in time. Though not searchable text items themselves, these small tactics can be big triggers toward desired actions.

Zappo’s search preload informs users that the site known for shoes is not JUST about shoes.

Ironically, as pharma sites continue to search for new ways to connect with customers, many are not yet taking full advantage of microcopy to propel these connections and user experiences (UX) forward. Granted there is a lot of copy on these sites. In fact, if you were to visit most any pharmaceutical site right now, it may seem suspect to suggest adding any copy. At all. FOR ANY REASON. And yet, much of the copy clutter is in primary positions: headlines competing with subheads competing with body copy competing with required indication and safety information.

In this area I concede. One imagines the Grinch reacting to "pharmawebsite.com": "That’s one thing I hate! All the noise, noise, noise, noise." And with all this noise, it’s easy to forego the inclusion of microcopy that could serve an entirely different purpose from its copy cousins in headline, body and legal.

Below are a few suggestions for key intervals where we might consider inserting small yet powerful microcopy that quietly urges patients and professionals not only to stay, but to engage.

Use microcopy to

  1. Support registration buttons — "3 quick questions"

  2. Ease reluctance to giving up personal data — "Your email is never shared"

  3. Add immediacy to savings — "Instant coupon available"

  4. Increase use of downloadable adherence devices — "1-page download"

  5. Set expectation for loyalty programs — "Get 4 monthly emails"

  6. Add concrete value to free offers — "$175 value, without insurance"

  7. Establish brand personality reflective of target demographic — "Aw, snap!"

  8. Lengthen duration of stay — "See another ZIP code" (see below)

Omnaris’ 4-Day Forecast "See another ZIP code" prompt not only recognizes initial entry, but inspires multiple uses and so elongates interaction with brand.

As digital content creators in pharma, Intouch Solutions is responsible for providing both visual and copy languages that create the most positive site experiences and, ultimately, help users act. Crafting microcopy means more than just being attentive to a site visitor’s needs. It means anticipating those needs and responding to them. In advance. This is a great opportunity for pharma websites to be even more responsive - and even more human - to patients. Best of all, we’re open 24/7.

Closing note, from The eLearning Coach: "Writing microcopy is a gift to your audience. Through your little phrase, you are helping people get oriented, find their way, or feel assured. That’s important stuff so do it with care."

References cited in researching this piece include: http://bokardo.com/archives/writing-microcopy/

http://www.evoluted.net/thinktank/copywriting/five-ways-not-to-write-fun-microcopy

http://contentini.com/micro-copy-content-strategy-and-writing-the-user-interface/

http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/writing-microcopy/

http://www.unmatchedstyle.com/news/microcopy-why-is-it-so-important.php

http://meetcontent.com/blog/2011/05/the-little-things-why-microcopy-matters/

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