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Why copywriting should be less science and more art

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I’ve been thinking a lot about how critical setting expectations is when it comes to writing effective copy.

What reminded me of this? Double blind randomized control trials.

I know, weird…

It’s just that I started studying nutrition and they talk a lot about how hard it is to prove or disprove hypotheses.

Gives you some kind of empathy I guess. Poor scientists.


In these experiments, participants don’t know whether they’re receiving the experimental treatment or a placebo. This ensures that they don’t modify their behavior to confirm the researcher’s hypothesis.

It’s an essential tool in scientific research.

And here’s where we can glean an important lesson: if it’s so hard to make sure that people follow their natural behavior patterns, we as marketers and copywriters have a very powerful advantage when we can set and meet expectations.

As long as we don’t mislead or trick people into buying, setting clear expectations is a powerful behavior changing tool.

Failing to set expectations in your copy on the other hand, means your prospects will be left confused, disengaged, and less likely to take the action you want them to.

Failed expectation setting creates anxiety in their minds.

When you set clear expectations in your copy, you’re essentially guiding your prospects through a journey.

Which helps them feel more comfortable and confident in moving forward. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that they’ll take action.

How do you do that? A few things:

  • Be transparent: Make sure your prospects know what they’re getting into right from the start. Don’t hide important information or use vague language that leaves them guessing.
  • Use a clear call-to-action: A strong CTA tells your prospects exactly what you want them to do next. Make it clear, concise, and compelling (add the 4th C to make it Credible too).
  • Address potential objections: By addressing your prospects’ concerns or doubts, you’re showing that you understand their perspective and are prepared to help them overcome any barriers to taking action.
  • Show them the path: Give your prospects a roadmap of what will happen after they take action. This could include a timeline, a series of steps, or a simple explanation of what they can expect.

Double blind randomized control trials are a powerful tool in the world of scientific research and they tell us exactly what NOT to do when it comes to steering people’s behavior.

Setting clear expectations is crucial to guiding prospects through the decision-making process and increasing the likelihood of them taking the action you desire.

Keep these tips in mind as you craft your next piece of copy.

Quote and reflection of the day:

“The most important step in emancipating oneself from social controls is the ability to find rewards in the events of each moment.”

  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow

When your goal is as simple as being fully present and engaged in every moment, you cannot fail. The ultimate purpose, control, requires depth and focus.

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brain dump?

Every week I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

Let’s nerd about decision making, persuasion, habits, and conversion optimization.