Can I have your attention please? Week 2 review.

This week I was looking at the subject of attention when reading websites.  I knew that people tend to do business with others who they know, like and trust but did you know that the chemical Oxytocin plays a part in this.  Baumgartner carried out an interesting study, which tested this by exploring the links between people’s trust and the application of the chemical oxytocin which looked at how much risks people were likely to take.   The participants were then given small amounts of money and were in two groups of people who either had the oxytocin application or a placebo. 

The delegates were then split into another two groups one group where they were told that their investments were not paying off.  The way they approved things was then explored. There were two different types of breach, trust or gambling.  The results only showed up clearly when the trust game was played rather than the risk game.  Overall people with higher levels of Oxytocin are more likely to forgive and forget.  I think that this means that the more that a person loves a product the more they are still likely to love the product or service even if there is a setback

An important aspect of business is first impressions and in this case the responses to viewing a website can happen as quickly as 0.5 seconds according to Google.  It also follows that a website must remain straightforward with a few levels of headlines and not too many visuals competing for attention.

For simplicity I love the Neal’s Yard Remedies website.  I love that the main two colours for the site are white and navy blue and the products are clearly set out with description, price and review.  It also contains the compelling visuals and graphics required for a website with medium sized products which can then be clicked on for a larger version of the graphic with more detailed information.

Another aspect of a website that elicits trust is appealing to people who are similar to ourselves. Although Neals Yard Remedies does not feature people it includes badges which shows its credibility for sustainability, cruelty free products and chemical free products.  It is also a rather luxury brand which reflects in its pricing. 

Whether we buy from a website is very much dependent on internal and external factors.  The internal factors are very subjective and could be as simple as remembering the smell of frankincense on a holiday and wanting to buy that product even more, whereas an external factor are things that are objective such as the font, sounds and images on a website.

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

As well as the type of information on a website or in an advertisement, writers have to be careful to not to overload the reader with information.  This is known as cognitive overload and there are several ways to avoid this from happening.  For example, websites that are overrun with banner ads and items with clickbait titles, which cause distraction due to the competing elements on the page.

Cognitive load theory was first described in 1988 by John Sweller, an educational psychologist,  who claimed that the higher the level of cognitive overload the harder it is to focus on, rehearse and remember different elements of information.  This was tested in particular with regard to banner ads  on clarity especially on website homepages.  The test that the CXL Institute used for their study was the homepage for Colonial Candle as it considered to not be immediately clear what the website is offering in terms of product.  The results of tests on the sample of 1,200 people showed that 66% of participants were clear about what the website was offering.

Visual cues are also extremely helpful as was shown in an visual cue eye tracking research was carried out on the Lemon Law Group, which found that when users were given 15 minutes to review a website they were most likely to contact the firm if the pointer from the information to the form was triangular or if the form was prominent on the page with little other information. 

Similar to this are eye gaze pattern tests, which show where users eye gaze is likely to fall on the site.  This is different if the task is difficult.   This comes back to Fitts Law which shows that the focus is dependent on the size of the visual that the user is focusing on and the distance of the user from the screen.

The CXL Institute carried out a study showing the pattern of reading a website.  Growth Marketer and Consultant, Sophia Eng explained that the most common reading patterns are in the sign of an F, a layer cake or a spotted pattern.  This is dependent on the information that the user wants to read.  A way of drawing the user to the most important information is by using bolded words, numbers long words and words in quotation marks along other items.

Another study was carried out by Nielson Norman Group’s 2008 study, which showed that internet users read just 28% of an article during an average website visit.  Most people will skim an article for the information that they want to find out.  A more in-depth study looked at the difference between one group of 18-30-year olds and another group of 50-60-year olds and found that the reading behaviours were quite similar.  I had a feeling that this was the case, especially as I tend to scan articles on the web for the information that I want as well.

The researchers created areas of interest (AOIs) on the article page and found that both groups were most likely to read the first part of the article and then a featured image.  The younger readers tended to read 62.9% of the article and the older readers read 54.5% of the article. The researchers took into account the possibility that some participants adapted their behaviours because they knew that they were being watched.  There was also the possibility that users didn’t have enough time to read the entire article because the testing platform only allowed a maximum of 30 seconds for a picture to be shown.

A more precise example was shown from a 2004 eye tracking study of the New York Times, which was then replicated in 2016.  The CXL Institute looked at an eye tracking tool which showed that the main focus was held in the top left-hand corner.  Out of the group of 200 participants only 132 had accurate enough information that could be used.  This study showed that the large banner ads were distracting.  However, the priority ads did not vary much.

Next week I’ll be exploring decision making and emotions.

The Psychology of Persuasion – Week 1 Review

One of my greatest passions in life is learning, it’s the reason why I studied to become a yoga teacher and then as a copywriter.  I recent had the opportunity to apply for a mini degree with the CXL Institute and I’m so glad I did.  As part of receiving a scholarship place I agreed to share my learnings with you on this platform.

So, over the next 12 weeks I’ll be sharing a series of blogs, which will reflect my thoughts and learnings from the course.  The course starts with one of the biggest names in the Psychology of Persuasion, Dr Robert Cialdini who wrote Influence.  He describes the different ways in which people can be persuaded to buy and one of these is there is a community of people who are buying the same thing, such as in the case of trends where something becomes very fashionable.    

Community spirit

When we talk about community, I love the story that Cialdini shares about the Hare Krishna community who would love to have more donations to their society but they were stuck as to how to acquire these donations.  They decided therefore to give a flower to people who they meet by way of introduction and the person doesn’t need to do anything immediately except to accept the flower.  Of course, people are curious and wonder why they are being given something for free and the Hare Krishna person explains to them that nothing is expected, however the recipient is welcome to donate to the Society. This is known as reciprocity the giving of a service or product to eventually receive something in return.

The course in the Psychology of Persuasion has modules which are introduced by CXL’s founder, Peep Laja and are eloquently presented. The second topic for this area looks at the Fogg Behaviour Model, which looks at Motivation, Triggers and Ability. Although I would love to think that I would use positive triggers in my writing to encourage people to buy a product/service, there are times when a negative trigger will be more attention grabbing.    

As this course shows when it comes to buying, we could be considered to have three brains: the thinking, feeling and decision-making aspects.  This also comes in with the practice of yoga where we think about which class we attend, what time and place, we decide to go, and we have feelings throughout the class.

Image by Mike Renpening from Pixabay

Robert Ornstein, a famous neuroscientist claims that our brains are what makes us selfish in the sense of having a need to survive. He refers to it as the old brain.  This comes in heavily in communication when we think about what is in it for us.  Therefore when we want to persuade someone to buy, we have to think about what is known as the Voice of the Customer (VoC) and think about what our customer wants and how we can deliver their wishes to them.

Another powerful aspect is the ability to Keep it Simple.  This applies heavily in copywriting where the style of writing is very much to keep things to the point and not to over egg the pudding so to speak. I love that the CXL course indicates that it’s best to have a maximum of three (Unique Selling Points) USPs and as someone who loves branding I’m aware that I really want to consider my brand as one that is honest, warm and communicative.

Another important aspect of copywriting that comes up in this section is about A/B testing, which shows the message that we want to share with our audience and which message they prefer.  This is about having two versions of an ad, for example and then checking the reaction to each of the ads. 

Another section of the Psychology of Persuasion course is about cognitive bias which is about our prejudices and personal interpretations of situations.  Some certainly apply to my way of thinking. For example, recency bias is the assumption that because something is more recent it will automatically be better.  I was thinking about this only this morning when considering a book list for 2021, which could have been only based on the latest releases. However, the latest releases are not necessarily going to be better than the earlier books. What I do like about more recent information is its ability to improve upon past attempts.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

An aspect of the course looks at the difference of emotional and rational decision making.  I love this part because I feel that I don’t find decision making that easy.  The subject draws upon the research of the neuroscientist, Antonio Demasio, who studied people who had lost the part of the brain function relating to emotions and he found that they could not make decisions.  The importance of this research reflects on advertising as ads play on our emotions and our influence to buy by as much as 3 to 1 for tv commercials and 2 to 1 for print commercials.  This article by Tommy Walker explains this theory in more detail.

As a former web developer, I was reminded of my learnings in the section about website design and the decision to buy.  The research shows that readers will review information in a Z like shape so that what is on the top left side is most important and then the reader will read from left to right and then go down to the next line and read from left to right. This is also important for SEO and website analytics because it is the top three results that are the most important on any web search.  Admittedly personally I’ll do a check of the top five and then narrow down from there.   This section also emphasizes the need for clear, larger photos and strong headlines.

The ecommerce product page study shows how the sizing of an item can influence how much someone is willing to pay for it.  It’s certainly credible information as I’m more attracted to buying items where I’m able to zoom in and see the detail of a product before I purchase it.  The information contained here is particularly useful for product descriptions and web design, though also important for print advertising.

The last section of this first module is about cognitive fluency, which comes back to keeping things simple right down to the language that is used to write and speak about what you want to sell.  This relates to one of my favourite brands, a hypnotherapist by the name of Marisa Peer who over her 20+ years of being a therapist discovered that people’s problems come down for the most part to the simple belief that they are “not enough”.  She is also an authority on her subject and produces videos consistently that back up her research.

I would like to end this blog by thanking the CXL Institute for giving me the opportunity to study this interesting subject and to you the readers for taking the time to read this blog.

When You’re up Against a Deadline.

Yes, it’s been weeks, probably even months since I last posted.  When it comes to doing things for other people I can do them quick sharpish but when it comes down to updating my own blog and selling myself and my skills they end up going on the back burner.

What kick-started this particular post was another one I responded to on a Facebook forum that I love, The Copywriter Club.  The members in that forum are among the wittiest I know and although I like to think I have my moments, I still have some way to go before I get into their league.

So without going into too much detail one of the members asked what she should do when she is up against a deadline and she is not feeling motivated at all, she did make reference to PMDD (Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) , which a close relative of mine suffers from and is a particularly vicious mental illness of which there isn’t enough awareness of.

My response was to share my Pollyanna tendencies and to admit that I have come to love Mondays, in fact, I think as long as someone is not working in a job they hate – a subject that deserves a future blog post of its own! – they can love their Mondays too.  For me, it represents resetting my goals. I mean the most famous one of them all is the diet that starts on Monday. This is one that I can relate to only too well, as I have my own ongoing battles with weight, in spite of my main profession – when not looking after a lively four-year-old boy, is as a yoga teacher.

I have a different dilemma from the original poster as I am prone to suffering from anxiety. At its worst, I can wake up with a complete sense of fear and not know what it’s about as it’s a gut feeling rather than a mind feeling. However, I love something that I learned recently from an amazing Psychology, Coach, and Writer, Caroline Shola Arewa. She referred to anxiety and stress as a reminder to back up and check in with what is happening and more importantly to rest.  There is indeed a saying that a person who is too busy to meditate for 10 minutes needs to meditate for an hour.

calm daylight evening grass
Photo by Pixabay on

Now, as copywriters, we can be up against crazy deadlines, though I didn’t mention that more recently I’ve been focussing on other editing work, which I have absolutely loved and also the topic of a few future blogs.  For me when anxiety kicks in and it usually kicks in, in the morning I tend to wait for my feelings to land. I hope that it doesn’t sound too cliched here to say that anxiety is like a dark cloud, with the thunder being the frustration and anger and the rain being like tears. If I can be patient enough to know that it will pass I tend to be able to work at a more powerful pace to make up for it.

I’ve never been one to leave things till the last minute.  My dad reminded me of something about himself, which seems straightforward but it’s a great reminder all the same.  He said that he is never late for an event because that in itself makes him anxious.  This is the same with deadlines, some people work better last minute, however, that doesn’t allow for a buffer where things could go wrong.

I’ll leave you with that thought and a special offer to get in touch if you have any editing or writing that you would like help with. Even if you’re a copywriter or editor with too much work on your hands I would love to be of assistance.

G**R – No it’s not a swear word

Chances are if you run a business you will have heard of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which come into effect on 25 May 2018.

Below are 10 tips that will hopefully make the process a little easier along with a template email at the bottom.  If you have any questions or would like me to draft a more personalised email for you, please get in touch with me below or at

I’ll admit that when I first heard about GDPR I wanted to stop sending out newsletters though fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I don’t have that many people on my newsletter list, to begin with. Besides, those newsletters are a great way of keeping in touch and sharing with your target market information about your product or service.

GDPR means that people must explicitly say that they are interested in receiving the emails that you send to them. Below are some key points to help you along.

  1. Ensure that all key people in your organisation who are likely to obtain data have the written permission to do so.
  2. All data that you hold must have a reason for each piece of information, so if you have included information about the person’s sexual orientation, for example, the reason why you have that must be shared.
  3. Hard copies of sign up forms must be kept safely under lock and key and there must be documented evidence that anyone receiving an email has given you prior authorisation to send.
  4. One way to do this is to send an email asking your subscriber to click on an opt-in button that will secure their information. Yes, there is only a certain amount of time that you can hold any person’s information for, which is for the time that the person is using your services plus seven years.
  5. If you’re not sure you will need to check in annually to make sure that they are still interested in receiving information.
  6. Emails must only be for the purpose that the subscriber has signed up for and cannot be bundled up for different purposes. So, I wouldn’t be able to send you information about my yoga classes with the email that you have used to sign up for my newsletter.
  7. Service users must receive an explanation of how their data will be used and how long it will be kept for. They should as before always have the option to unsubscribe from your services if they wish to.
  8. Privacy notices also need to be reviewed, these are usually on any website and show how data is to be used. If you don’t have one now could be the time to write one.

The information included in this blog is by no means comprehensive though for further information please see the Information Commissioner’s website.

Also, check out Suzanne Dibble’s page for lots of useful videos and information.

Contact me for this month’s sign up printable if you haven’t sent your GDPR email out or if you don’t have a privacy page in place yet.

Sign up for the opportunity to win a day’s worth of copywriting for free – The winner will be announced on this site monthly.




The Big Why

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a book in my hand, not stuck to my hand literally but I was one of those kids who if they had to be in a queue, I’d be in line reading a book.  I saw that recently at the airport and it brought back some memories.

Although my main business at present is as a yoga teacher I have thought long and hard about whether to add to those hours working in another business and if so what it would be.  I work around my son, and my husband to an extent who sometimes travels for work. As such, I really wanted to be as close to home as possible even if I have to work strange hours, which could tie in quite nicely with my strange tendency to wake up at 3am with my brain buzzing with thoughts.

My inspiration came in the form of another writer who I think of as my mentor, Rosalind Brookman, who a friend recommended to me because I expressed the same challenge that I wanted to convert my love of reading into some way of making money but I wasn’t sure how.  Rosalind writes blogs both for herself and others and has run some really good workshops as well.  I had been putting off my writing using the pretty valid excuse that there is something else to do.  There is always something to do and as much as I’d love my housework to do itself it’s not happened for me yet.

After going to Rosalind’s workshop, I explored the opportunities out there mainly through content mills and various websites and I’ve started to write for one of these organisations and I’m enjoying it so far.

In a bid to be more professional I’m currently going through training with the Blackford Institute to become a Professional Copy Writer and while I do this, I would love to build up my portfolio.  If you know of anyone who needs help with some writing please get in touch and I’ll see what I can do.

“You can make anything by writing” – C.S. Lewis