You know those pissy, angsty commenters on Medium who will absolutely tear you to fucking shreds if you write a sentence that has one word in it more than is 100% necessary?!?
And I’m saying that not only because they get on my nerves so badly (or maybe I am).
I’m saying it because there’s real, actual SCIENCE behind being redundant in the things you write—especially when you’re writing to a distracted audience.
And if you’re writing on the internet, you are writing to a distracted audience.
Heck, I’m actively writing a post and my mind’s wandering.
In the entirety of the five sentences above, here’s THREE actual, substantial thoughts that have run through my mind:
- That eHarmony matching algorithm kind of sucks. People like to get their panties in a wad over how horrible Tinder is, but I actually prefer it. I mean, at least the dudes I match with are local.
- I’m almost out of food. I’m going to have to go grocery shopping on Wednesday night—wait, will I have time for that AND cooking?
- Should I go ahead and make plans to travel to Europe in September? What if things fall through? I can always just plan things last minute, right? Will I be able to take time off and still keep my clients??
You see what I mean?
Make whatever judgments you want to about the thoughts I’m entertaining, but I promise you I’m not an exception to the rule.
Everyone’s minds are moving at the speed of a million thoughts a minute.
Your visitors might not be concerned about dating apps or European travel, but they are concerned about something…. something they do, in fact, deem FAR MORE important than whatever it is you’re talking to them about on your website.
Sorry my friend, but that’s just how it is.
So it’s a complete and total mistake to think that you visitors are giving you their FULL attention… because if you’re lucky, you’ve really only got a small percentage of it.
So redundancy is important.
(And let’s be honest, until I pointed it out with this sentence, how many of you were actively counting the different ways I was telling you that your audience isn’t giving you 100% of their attention??)
I’m not necessarily talking about repetition.
Because repetition is repeating the exact same thing over and over and over again.
And that’s just annoying.
But it does work in advertising, doesn’t it?
Those repetitive jingles you can no longer get out of your head?
Yeap, totally repetitive and done on purpose.
But with web copy, redundancy wins.
And it wins so, so hard.
Here’s another quote from one of my favorite humans I’ve never met, Drew Eric Whitman. It’s in his book Brainscripts:
“Not only does redundancy help break through the clutter of whatever else is going on in you potential buyer’s head,” he says, “but according to the researchers Feustel, Shiffrin, and Salasoo (1983), it also increases the speed and accuracy with which he or she will recognize your points during future presentations… Redundancy entails creating a script containing multiple instances of [your message], variously worded and bolstered by supporting facts and hard-hitting emotional content.”
It increases the speed and accuracy at which someone absorbs the message you’re trying so desperately to preach at them.
That’s the entire point of all these internet marketing “hacks” we’re all so desperately trying to take advantage of, isn’t it?
Yes, it is.
And let me tell you something else.
It might be a bit “irreverent” for some people in the copywriting world, but I think you guys already know I don’t really care….
THIS is what direct response copywriters do that’s SOOOOOOO freaking effective.
Sure, there’s other aspects and approaches to direct response, but a BIG, BIG reason why that school of copywriting converts so well is because the author is very repetitive in the message he’s conveying to the reader.
So guys, if you’re writing a sales page or an email responder sequence and you feel a little apprehensive about writing something because you’ve already explained it or you’ve just said it two paragraphs above…. go ahead and write it.
And don’t feel apprehensive or guilty about it for even half a second.
Drive you point home, and drive it home proudly.
Interesting perspective. You’ll see Donald Trump use redundancy / repetition to great effect. Thanks for the article!
Tell me what you’re going to tell me. Tell me. Tell me what you told me 🙂