The power of "because"
One word = 56.67% increase in conversion rate
Welcome to the 21st issue of Write On!
The newsletter that can drink alcohol legally now. I’ll take a tequila shot for every poll response today in honor of the occasion.
Estimated read time: 2 minutes 37 seconds
I’m a fortune teller
I share a quick story at the beginning of every Write On newsletter.
This story usually relates to why storytelling is important in copywriting — for entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes.
My goal is to launch this storywriting course in the next 90 days. That’s a launch date around the first two weeks of September.
Right now, there’re 153 people on the waitlist after 4 weeks of promoting it in the newsletter (and nowhere else).
That means ~38 people join the waitlist each week.
By early September, there should be ~500 people on the waitlist (give or take).
A % of those people will purchase the course (I hope 😬).
They will purchase the course largely because of the stories I tell in this section of the newsletter each week (along with stories in the private waitlist emails).
Do you see the connection? :)
153 Write On readers are on the waitlist to become a better storyteller. Consider joining them because you’ll get:
Early access to the course launch
Sneak peeks into the course
Just click the button below 👇
Top Finds This Week:
📖 Storytelling: Writing's most valuable skill is storytelling. But schools do a terrible job teaching you how to do it. Instead, here are 7 simple tips to become a world-class storyteller: (link)
🧠 Psychology: Quick tip to write copy that evokes more emotion: (link)
🖼 Framework: This storytelling formula might be the most powerful marketing tool on Earth (used by Apple): (link)
📜 Principles: If you've never published anything, readers are not going to trust you to give "general advice." So here's what to do instead: (link)
⚙️ Resource: Most people don’t know how to use transition words. Use these 17 phrases to make your copy more effective (with examples): (link)
🤖 AI: Metaphors are a classic way to grab attention. They can evoke imagery, provoke comparisons, etc. Write one-liner metaphors with this short ChatGPT prompt: (link)
Quick flashback: you’re in 6th grade and forgot to do your homework.
You’re sitting in class, and the teacher asks: “Why didn’t you complete your assignment last night?”
You stare blankly in front of you, trying to think of an excuse until you blurt out: “Because my dog ate it.”
Maybe your teacher lets you off the hook. Maybe they don’t.
But you instinctively knew, “If I give a reason, I might have a shot at getting away with this…”
One word. 56.67% increase in conversion rates:
In 1978, Ellen Langer studied the power of the word “because” at Harvard.
Langer ran an experiment and asked people to cut in front of people in line for the xerox machine at a busy part of campus.
The experiment was broken up into 3 specifically worded phrases:
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
Before we get into the results, let’s pause for a second to analyze the phrases:
No reason provided.
Fake reason provided. Everybody is in line to make copies.
Real reason provided. This answer is the most justifiable.
Providing a reason (real or fake) resulted in a 55-56.67% uplift in conversion rate vs. providing no reason.
People need to hear “why,” but the “why” doesn’t matter:
The main callout here is that the reason for the favor didn’t matter.
The fact that the person making the request had a reason was why they were more successful in cutting the line.
So why does this work?
BECAUSE the word “because” is a trigger.
It’s always followed by information that justifies what came before it.
When the stakes are low: (like waiting in line for a xerox machine), you won’t get much resistance to your why.
When the stakes are higher: you should expect more resistance, but it’ll still be more successful than providing no reason (think of the homework example I shared at the beginning).
This goes way beyond copywriting…
Taking the copywriting hat off for a second…
The word “because” comes up in your life daily:
“I didn’t workout today because I was tired.”
“I don’t want to write online because I’m worried nobody will read.”
“I didn’t ask for a raise because they typically don’t give raises at this time of year.”
These are all “fake because” examples we put in our heads to justify poor decisions.
And as you just learned, they can be as powerful as a “real because.”
Be mindful of that.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading.
See you next Wednesday!
A few sources used in the research for today’s newsletter:
P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here’re two ways I can help you:
Facts tell. Stories Sell. Use storytelling in your copywriting to grow your business. Get early access to my new course: The Storywriting Playbook (👉Add me to the waitlist!)
Keep your writing sharp all year round and enjoy free lifetime access to my collection of Write On copywriting guides (👉View all guides)
P.P.S. If you've got a moment, I'd love to get your feedback:
What did you think of today's newsletter?