Could your copy use a swift kick in the funny bone? Adding a bit of humor may be just what your emails or website needs to grab attention and increase conversions.

Humor is a funny thing. Who doesn’t like to laugh, right?

It’s why we love blooper reels, Dave Barry columns and hanging out with people who make us laugh. It feels good to laugh and is even shown to boost health on many levels.

Yet, humor used at the wrong time, or in front of the wrong audience can be The Worst. Especially when you’re trying to establish trust.

Think about a speaker who opens their talk with a joke that falls flat.

Like at my college graduation, where the speaker opened with an (extremely) off-color joke. It would’ve been in poor taste in the best of situations. But this was 10x worse because I went to a Catholic college, so she told a penis joke in front of a roomful of nuns.

The audience stares…

Someone nervously coughs…

People got up and left…

When this type of thing happens, the speaker spends the rest of their talk trying to dig themselves out of the humorless hole. And the audience needs to decide if they’re even going to continue listening after that lousy first impression.

Same goes for writing.

Whether or not you use humor, you need to grab your reader’s attention and FAST.

Visitors will leave a website in 10 seconds if they don’t see a clear reason to stay, according to the Nielsen Norman Group.

Done well, humor presents a surprise, a break from the same old same old *yawn*-inducing copy of most sites.

Used the right way, funny stuff bonds you with your audience.

Not surprisingly, humor can also boost conversions.

Here’s why it helps to add some funny stuff to your copy:

  • Humor appeals to emotions and increases positive feelings
  • It reduces tension towards the company or buying process
  • Makes messaging more memorable
  • Laughing releases feel-good hormones
  • Humor attracts attention and holds it

Jokes are also unexpected.

And the reader responds emotionally to the content, making them more likely to related to the product / brand.

So… how does humor work to increase sales?

For one, laughter builds a connection between people. Imagine swapping funny stories with a friend.

We all need that “funny friend” who can make us laugh. (I’m that friend for a lot of people I know, I’m proud to say.)

If the reader feels this information is worthy of attention, their brain’ll devote more brain processing power to your offer.

Copyhackers presented a case study demonstrating how adding humor to an ad could boost conversions 18%:

Check this out:

Here’s the OG:

Its message is clear. Functional. Includes all the relevant info.

But compare it to this revised, more clever, one:

The idea of referencing a hangover was debated — would readers see it as a negative? Testing showed: nope. Nearly 18% increased conversion from the original.

In another case, a funny landing page by 28% by Halley Gray, CEO of Evolve and Succeed,​​​​​​​ converted 28% better than the same premier service sales page without humor.

Using humor puts website visitors at ease and distracts them from being “marketed to.” they’re also more likely to heed your call to action.

It’s especially effective when selling what may otherwise be… awkward bathroom type products like Squatty Potty and Poo Pourri.

Overall, humor makes people feel closer to your brand and shows personality.

But, here’s the thing: You need a clear strategy.

And your message can’t get lost in the humor. This makes it more of a distraction.

Funny stuff should motivate people to keep reading, realize the benefits… and lead them to take action.

Humor Rules

Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

Before you pop a joke onto your homepage or sales page, start small. See how it works for your audience.

And, as always, test. Here are a few places to add a touch of humor:

  • Sign up forms
  • Email capture forms
  • Shopping cart pages and checkout
  • Confirmation landing pages
  • Support pages
  • Contact us
  • Live chat
  • Unsubscribe pages
  • Exit popups
  • Cart abandonment points

Using humor at small resistance points like these can increase conversions 12–50%.

Here’s an example of a super simple way to add humor to get a conversion lift:

To kick humor out of the park…

  1. Keep the end goals of your readers or client in mind. Humor that’s out-of-place or awkward could kill conversions instead of boosting them.
  2. Be clear on the type of humor your audience enjoys. Remove any chance the visitor may be angered or otherwise offended by your words.
  3. Keep it simple. Avoid being so “clever” that the reader has to think about the humor to “get” what you’re saying. Be direct.
  4. Lastly, know your audience. It’s the only way to meet them exactly where they are.

If you found this helpful, entertaining, or both, check out my blog and freebies on my website.

I write high-converting copy for businesses and entrepreneurs

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