Want More Users? Stop Talking About Yourself

by on 03/29/11 at 9:50 pm

In today’s society where social media rules, people can’t stop talking about themselves. That’s fine if you’re socializing to your family and friends. But not if you’re selling a product. Talking about yourself too much can give potential users the impression that you care more about your needs than theirs.

If you want to gain more users and sell more products, you should write headlines and copy that focus on your users, not yourself. When users visit your site, they’re looking for a solution to their problem. They don’t want to hear about you or your company. They want to hear how your product can help make their lives better. Stop talking about your company and start talking about your users more by targeting your headlines and copy on their needs and benefits.

Focus on User Benefits over Product Features

Your headlines and copy should talk less about your product’s features, and more about what users can do with your product. What special ability do they gain from using your product that they wouldn’t get if they didn’t use it? Users want to know the unique benefits they’ll get by using your product. Don’t get bogged down in detail with technical feature specifications. Headlines and copy that focus on user benefits over product features are the ones that compel users to buy. Here’s great example of features vs. benefits.

Freedcamp’s homepage focuses on product features, not user benefits.

Wave’s homepage focuses on user benefits over product features.

Speak the Language of “You” not “We”

Words like “we”, “our” and the name of your company should rarely show up in your headlines and copy. Instead, speak the language of “you” and “your” so that users know that they’re your first priority. Take the focus off you and your company and put it on the user. They’re the ones who decide whether your product has value, not you. Users will vote with their money. If you’re not getting enough votes, you probably aren’t speaking the user’s language.

Freedcamp’s web­site copy is full of self-focused words (we, our).

Wave’s web­site copy is full of cus­tomer focused words (you, your).

Calculate Your Customer Focus Ratio

You need to know how well your website focuses on potential customers. You can calculate your customer focus ratio by using the We We Calculator. It analyzes the copy on your site and weighs the number of customer focused words, such as “you” and “your” against self-focused words, such as “I”, “we”, “our”, “us” and your company name. If you have a high customer focus ratio, your website copy isn’t something you have to worry about. If you have a low customer focus ratio, you should consider rewriting your website copy so that it focuses more on the user and their benefits. Once you’re done, you can calculate the customer focus ratio of your copy by using the We We Text Tool.

The customer focus ratio of this site.

The focus of your website’s headlines and copy matter when it comes getting users and selling products. If you focus on yourself too much, users won’t see the value you offer and leave your site. But when you focus on your users and the how your product benefits them, they’ll have something more to rave about on social media than themselves.

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Author and editor-in-chief of UX Movement. Loves great web experiences and fights for the user.

8 Responses to “Want More Users? Stop Talking About Yourself”

  1. Angel Grablev

    Mar 30th, 2011

    I won’t talk about the merits of this article or take any bias towards it.

    That said and out of the way, our conversion rate is over 25%, comparing that to pretty much any other web application I have worked for or any that has published that information publicly we are doing quite alright. At any rate you can see a preview of our next design which seems to look more like what you are talking about here http://forrst-production.s3.amazonaws.com/posts/snaps/66587/original.png?1299791442


    • Aymeric

      Apr 8th, 2011

      What would be interesting is to change the current copy of freedcamp to focus on YOU rather than WE and see the impact on conversions.

      Maybe Freedcamp converts well simply because there is a huge need for it regardless of the YOU and WE?

    • pedant

      Aug 15th, 2011

      No apostrophe in ‘to-do’s’

  2. Craig

    Mar 31st, 2011

    This was a great post. I have actually never even considered this point of view on copy. You’ve convinced me to literally re-write all the copy on my sites. Thanks!

  3. Deane

    Apr 10th, 2011

    Well another important facet is the type of product you have and the context in which a user would look at a product. I think freecamp does a pretty good job on the website. It’s a common service — project management — i already know the benefits of it and probably looked at countless other apps for PM. Features is what I’m looking at in this context. time tracking – great, to do’s – nice, file sharing – good. Free? I’m sold.

    In fact I’m going to give this app a try right now.

    I think the article’s point is very valid, just perhaps not the best example.

  4. Janelle

    Apr 12th, 2011

    Thanks for this piece. There is many take aways which we me and my business partner are going to go through which you outlined.

    We definitely need to focus more on benefits to the customer which is something we have been lacking.

  5. Neeya

    Jul 22nd, 2011

    what the differences between talking at the customer and talking with the customer?

  6. Supun

    Nov 1st, 2012

    Yep I agree with you! We must talk about customers’ needs not about ourselves,

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