What Is Microcopy and When Do You Need It?

According to the Edelman 2022 Trust Barometer report, 63% of global citizens think business leaders purposely mislead them. Building trust with customers is an essential component of your marketing efforts.

As you consider strategies to improve user experiences with your brand and increase the trust customers place in your business, you probably haven’t given microcopy much thought as an approach to achieve these goals.

You should.

Perhaps you have only gotten as far as asking what is microcopy? It’s a little thing that is a big deal, and we’re delving into the details about what it is and when you need to use it.

What Is Microcopy?

Microcopy is everywhere in the digital environment. You might not consciously pay much attention to it most of the time. If it’s done well, but presented in a quirky or unique way, it might catch your attention.

On the other end of the spectrum, if it’s done poorly, it can lead you to doubt a company or product, and even change your mind about whether to pursue a product or service further.

Microcopy refers to the tiny bits of information you find on websites, landing pages, digital forms, and applications. These words have a significant impact on the user experience (UX).

They should be more than an afterthought in your marketing team’s strategies. These little words and phrases compel users to take action, provide crucial information, and engage viewers’ attention. For example, the DivvyHQ application has examples of microcopy everywhere, giving users helpful guidance and instructions on how to use specific functions and features.

divvyhq microcopy examples

Example: DivvyHQ Workflow Builder

Words have power, even if they are the bits and pieces that viewers only have eyes on momentarily — perhaps especially in these instances. It’s worth the time it takes for your team to learn how to create effective microcopy.

Keep It Short and Concise

What is microcopy? Let’s start with the first and most obvious (it’s called micro for a reason!) trait. Good microcopy is short and sweet.

Your audience should understand at a glance precisely what they can expect, need to know, or should do. Keep it to a short phrase or simple sentence.

Your microcopy needs to also be concise. Using vague or ambiguous language may cost you conversions.

Be Human

Your audience should recognize themselves in your microcopy. It needs to sound like a human voice.

Choose your words wisely. While it won’t always be necessary or appropriate, don’t be afraid to convey human emotion. You can be humorous, clever, or empathetic, but avoid using jargon.

On average, viewers’ online attention span is a whopping eight seconds. If your microcopy is a snoozer, their attention will likely wander away from your site. However, you want to be careful not to overdo it.

Infographic with stats on human attention span, revealing that part of the anser to what is microscopy question is concision.

Image Source: Wyzowl

Use Your Brand Voice

Another answer to the “What is microcopy?” question is that it’s an extension of your brand’s voice. A caveat to the guidance to use humor is that you should only do so if it reflects your brand.

Just as your audience should see themselves in your microcopy, they should also be able to recognize your voice. If your company is the serious sort, humor may be out of place and feel like an inauthentic attempt to reel your viewer in.

Focus on the User

When your team creates microcopy, focus on users. Know your audience. What do they need from you to accomplish their goals or resolve an issue?

You want to be transparent. Little information creates mistrust in your audience as much as the feeling that they’ve been duped.

If you create a sign-up page for a free trial, don’t ask for credit card information without telling prospective customers why and reassuring them that they won’t be charged for the free trial. If they can cancel before the trial ends, let them know that, too.

Provide Direction

What is microcopy at its core? It’s functional. Every word counts. The ones you choose for your microcopy should serve a purpose.

If you want your viewers to act, tell them what to do. If your goal is to offer guidance, provide it. When your audience needs information about what to expect next, give them what they need.

Get Personal

When you write your copy, use familiar terms. Your words should be personal and conversational, so a first-person and second-person voice is appropriate. It’s “I” or “we” and “you” versus “he” or “she” and “they.”

Consider Placement

You want to make things as easy on your audience as possible. Where you place the microcopy matters. Understand how users experience your pages and apps before you determine microcopy placement.

When Should You Use Microcopy?

After you know how to answer the “What is microcopy?” question, you need to know when you should use it. You likely already incorporate microcopy in numerous ways, but you may not have given much thought to how to use it to improve UX and gain customer trust.

The strategic use of microcopy enhances your marketing efforts. Here are a few ideas of when to use microcopy:

  • Landing pages: Whenever you have a landing page, you need microcopy. The function of the copy may be different, depending on the type of landing page it is.
  • Call-to-action buttons: Most brands use standard CTA buttons. Consider livening yours up a bit to capture your audience’s attention.
  • Error messages: Error messages can be anything from 404 errors to missing information on a form. Make sure you maintain a friendly tone in these messages and tell the viewer how to resolve the issue.
  • Placeholders: Whenever you have a fillable field, you can use microcopy to provide instruction and guidance. Be judicious in using placeholder microcopy, as using it in every field can be more of a distraction or annoyance than helpful.

An example answer to the what is microcopy question in Mailchimp that demonstrates the use of humor and placeholders.

Image Source: Mailchimp

As you begin incorporating strategic microcopy, test out variations to determine what works best for your audience.

Can DivvyHQ Help With Microcopy?

Of course! As we’ve discussed above, microcopy is an important element that is produced in tandem with all sorts of other types of content assets. Often, multiple contributors need to collaborate to ensure your user experience for web pages, landing pages, and application interfaces are easy to navigate and use.

DivvyHQ not only aids in providing a collaborative hub for producing those assets, but it also integrates with a variety of AI tools that are increasingly used for crafting microcopy, including simple explanations, instructions, and translated guidance.

Request a demo today to find out how it works!