Ockham’s razor is a term in logic and problem solving with a single objective: succinctness in finding an answer. When applied to content writing, we can translate the principle into the term lean content. If you are a writer, the goal is to be read, correct? Unlike in the 18th century, when poets like Wordsworth wrote 40-page sonnets, today’s average reader, your potential customer I might add, has an attention span of two to four minutes if you are lucky. Additionally, if you don’t hook your reader in the first five seconds, you lost that potential customer. While it is advisable to add flourishes to your words when writing a love poem, if you are writing content for e-commerce and blogs, the reader results from a romantic overture about a refrigerator will truly break your heart.
Lean content presents the best solution to match the current attention span of the average person and thus, find your love requited. When writing content, you should concentrate on the type of information expected by the customer. If your customer is purchasing a camera, he/she could care less about the history of photography. The basic point of interest is best value for the money. This is the meat of marketing — no trans fats, please. When writing, get to the point as quickly as you can. What is the product or service? Can it make my life easier or resolve a problem? How do you start? Here is where Ockham’s mighty razor comes into place. When in doubt, CUT, CUT, CUT. Make the text effective and relevant to your target markets and leave irrelevant details behind. Always stay on the lean side. Long paragraphs tend to put people off.
Content creation aims at informing the reader about a product or service by efficiently summarizing its attributes in 200-300 words. Be objective in your description, highlighting the features of interest to the customer. If someone is buying a PC tablet, they key marketing elements deal with functionality. In other words: “It allows me to perform all the activities I can from my home computer on the go.” I don’t care if Paris Hilton owns one or if the Internet was first created by either the U.S. Department of Defense or Al Gore.
Secondly, add information that can help the customer make a choice in one or two sentences. For instance, “Product A has an 80% customer satisfaction rate. The compilation of reviews suggests it is user-friendly, easy-to-install, and great if you plan to upload or take a ton of photos.” Your language should be concise and clear to be effective. Short sentences tend to work much better and provide the basics. If citing a number of features, you might want to use bullet points. In this manner, your reader can get the whole picture in seconds.
We are constantly bombarded with words. Web sites, television ads and print ads, just to name a few. As a result, we no longer read deeply but glance. If the content is too long or has a so-so title and couple of first sentences, it’s not worth the effort. Admit it, we have become lazy when it comes to reading. Perhaps the better adjective is immune. We block words that don’t appeal to us. A tip from writer to writer: save wordiness for love letters and poems. Write a novel if you have a deep passion for words. Just don’t do it when writing content on an e-commerce site. You will not be missed; you will be dismissed.
About Ryan Walton
Ryan is the Director of Customer Experience at eZdia. With the CEO, CTO and founder, Ryan runs the product experience at eZdia. Ryan has a passion for developing fun and delightful content creation strategies at scale.