• Anna Milward

Are Friction Words Burning Your Readers?



Friction can be credited for a huge number of wonderful and necessary things in our lives, like car brakes, matches and the fact our shoes grip to the floor and don’t slip out from under us when we walk. Unfortunately when it comes to web copywriting, if there’s too much friction on the page, all you’re going to get is burned.

Whether you’re writing a call to action, a landing page or the content for your website, you want your reader’s path to conversion to flow naturally from beginning to end. Friction words are those words and phrases that rub your audience up the wrong way and hamper their progress. Here’s how they work and a few tips for avoiding them.

What are friction words?

Friction words can broadly be described as any words or phrases that cause friction between what the reader wants or expects, and what they find on your page.

More specifically, when it comes to calls to action and sales copy, friction words are those words that sound like work. They make the reader hesitate before clicking and wonder whether they have the time/money/inclination to continue. Given the notorious lack of attention span that internet users are known for, that moment of hesitation may be all it takes to lose them. Forever.

Whatever you are trying to do, whether it’s to get your reader to subscribe to your blog, purchase a product or contact you for more information, the last thing you want to do is make it sound onerous or difficult. This may sound obvious but many people do just this without realising it by using certain words which can turn off their readers and make them go elsewhere.

Seemingly innocuous words and phrases like “subscribe,” “create an account,” and “fill out a quote,” can sound like far too much effort to a busy searcher who just wants to solve a problem as quickly as possible. Here are some examples of common friction words that can slow your audience down.

  1. Subscribe

  2. Sign up

  3. Donate

  4. Complete

  5. Fill out

  6. Support

These words and phrases all have one thing in common. They imply a cost to the reader, either in time or money. That’s not to say they won’t convert, but they will probably consider it more carefully than if they could see a seamless path to their final destination in front of them.

The solution: replace friction with flow

If you want to maximise your conversions from your web content, the path from your website to your audience getting what they want needs to be free flowing, with no blockages or sticking points slowing them down. This doesn’t mean you can’t still get them to subscribe, or sign up, or fill out a form, it just means that the wording should focus more on the destination and less on the journey (ignore Miley, it’s not about “the climb”).

This is where flow words come in. These are words that smooth the reader’s way along the conversion road without restricting their progress. Some examples of flow words include:

  • Get

  • Learn

  • Discover

  • Earn

  • Start

Flow words focus on the benefits in a positive way and instead of asking something from the reader, they promise to give them something, whether it’s knowledge, money, more time or another benefit. Yes they may have to type their email address into a box, or fill out a form but they are less likely to hesitate because there’s something in it for them.

A low conversion rate and a high bounce rate on your website are both signs that you could be using too many friction words in your website copy and call to action buttons. By taking out friction words in your web copy and replacing them with flow words and phrases you can smooth the path to higher conversions and get better results for your business.

#persuasivewriting #compellingcopy #marketing

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