by | Feb 19, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

A well-crafted email footer from the RSPB the other week prompted me to think about the power of microcopy.

It was on the thank you email for submitting my big garden birdwatch results – something I’ve been doing for years (and something which has now seemingly become less geeky!).

‘We spend 90% of our net income on conservation, public education and advocacy‘

Charities are frequently criticised for how they spend their money – most often it’s about how much they pay the CEO, but not exclusively. The footer of an email is a cracking way to present this very clearly and succinctly and in a place that gets eyeballs. You might not think it, but eye-tracking research backs up that the last line of an email is read… (think about those people who read the last page of a book first!)

Another day another email – this one from Royal Mail, letting me know a parcel was due and reminding me that if I had a dog (I do) to keep the dog away so the post could be delivered safely. I’d never noticed this footer before (and I’ve deleted the email so can’t access it now) but good for them for reminding people and raising awareness. I was less impressed when the parcel itself came and whilst I was busy securing the dog in the living room before answering the door, the postie was trying to ram my parcel through the magnet-operated cat flap. Thank goodness I caught him before he broke the thing.

Some other places where one-liners/microcopy works:

Duff links/error messages – 403 forbidden links – there is an opportunity to let users know where to go next rather than a direct and unfriendly NO ENTRY.

Error texts on form fields when you may have input a password that doesn’t meet the site’s high bar for passwords, or your date of birth in the wrong format. You can manage expectations AND reduce frustration.

Text on calls to action ie what you want the user to do. Make them engaging, on-brand and clear.

Messages advising of stock levels – in-store only, which store?

Reassurances about GDPR/marketing consent – who is using what data and what for? Reassure. Build trust.

It’s worth noting some what not to do too…avoid spammy text, like overly aggressive or manipulative language and repetition in a ‘are you really sure you want to unsubscribe/abandon your cart?’ type of way.

Finally, be consistent in tone across all microcopy. Be professional, be approachable, and be clear.