Recently, I read a book about the history of advertising in the 20th century. One of the leading innovators was David Ogilvy. He is considered today, as the godfather of modern advertising. His unique approach to advertising and communication is still relevant to online content marketers. I picked a few great quotes from him and reflected a little on how they are still relevant today
1. “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”
With today’s near instant feedback, it is easier than ever to test headlines, subject lines, body copy, call to actions, and more. I’ve seen cases where click through rates skyrocket 800% just by testing a few headlines.
2. “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
This quote really makes you think just how important headlines are, and the need to refine them. Many times its better to write 5 or 10 different headlines and have them assessed by a few people, see which one is more engaging, and as per the first quote… test!
3. “I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day.”
I love this quote and I’ve seen this work countless times. Years ago, I had a client whose copywriter used a common misspelling of a word in a headline and it ran in a small newspaper ad. The next week they corrected the ad and performance dropped. On a hunch, they ran the ad a few weeks later with the misspelling and the performance jumped back up. They continued to run this ad for years with the misspelling and it was one of their highest performing ads. Sometimes, you shouldn’t try and fight success.
4. “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”
Humor is a powerful emotion and something that makes people online share socially (see: Find Out EXACTLY Why People Share Online) If you’re having fun writing it, you’re reader will probably enjoy reading it.
5. “Never use tricky or irrelevant headlines… People read too fast to figure out what you are trying to say.”
Try to be straightforward with your headlines. Sometimes being too clever can backfire. Using Nike’s tagline as “Just do it,” might work for Nike with a billion dollar budget, but if you, use that tagline as a headline you’ll just confuse people. Remember, there is always a picture of a cute cat just a click away on the Internet.