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So wrong it’s right: Breaking best practices in copywriting

Yael Ben-David is a wordsmith who took an unconventional path from journalism to neurobiology and, eventually, to the realm of complex product copywriting. It’s this diverse blend of skills that empowers her to shed light on the strategic moments when deviating from best practices can lead to remarkable outcomes.

Navigating the delicate art of deviating from conventions

We as humans love rules because then we feel like nothing can go wrong if we stick to them. But there is so much potential we are missing out on if we do so. At WebExpo 2023 Yael uncovered the hidden power of bending the rules in favor of effective communication. In her talk “So wrong it’s right: When breaking best practices is good for your copy” we dived into a new perspective that might seem counterintuitive but could potentially revolutionize your approach to crafting compelling copy.

The underlying essence of best practices

So, what’s the big deal about best practices anyway? Aren’t they meant to guide us toward excellence? Well, Yael throws us a curve ball by revealing that sometimes, it’s not just okay but brilliant to break them. She walks us through her thought process, highlighting the source of best practices, from common sense and trial-and-error to testing and consensus. It’s a reminder that while these practices provide shortcuts to success, there’s a time and place to bend them. However, understanding their origins is what allows us to appreciate when it’s beneficial to veer off the conventional path.

When to play the rule-breaker card

Let’s get to the juicy part of when to wave that rule-breaking flag with pride! Yael reveals three critical moments in her recording that justify taking a detour from the best practices. The following is just an appetizer to her full session packed with practical concrete examples.

When assumptions falter: Imagine that the underlying assumptions of a best practice don’t align with your context; that’s exactly the opportunity to rethink your strategy and potentially break free.

When user and business interests clash: Balancing user needs and business interests can lead to breaking a best practice to achieve a harmonious blend of objectives, ultimately driving success for both parties.

When your voice needs to shine: Copy sprinkled with personality and flair can be a game-changer. That’s why breaking the best practices can help with enhancing authenticity, aligning your content with your brand voice, or fostering a stronger connection with your audience.

Some of the particular examples of when it paid off to break the best practices that Yael mentions in her talk based on her own experience are:

  • Defying conciseness for trust: In a world where conciseness reigns supreme, Yael demonstrates how adding extra content can actually bolster user’s trust. Sometimes, oversharing can be a sign of credibility, which could lead to remarkable engagement and success.
  • Clarity over uniformity: Clarity is the key to comprehension, especially when it comes to complex information.
  • Embracing unconventional call-to-actions: Sometimes a call-to-action button is more of a call-to-think-twice-before-you-click button, and that’s the moment when you can transform the user’s experience. The balance between actionability and clarity isn’t always straightforward, and sometimes, going against the grain leads to the perfect outcome.

Balance is the key

Yael challenges us that rules are made to be broken – if you know when, why, and how to break them. Armed with this newfound wisdom, you have the tools to infuse your copy with personality, cater to diverse audiences, and drive unparalleled engagement. And if you are eager to explore more of this topic feel free to listen to the entire talk.

Remember: Best practices are valuable guidelines however, they are not unbreakable rules.

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