Why Every Copy Element Must Have ONLY One Job

May 4, 2015

It’s a well-known rule of Web copywriting that every element of copy should have a single job to do – in other words, perform a single function.

The reason for this, first and foremost, is because trying to get your reader to take more than one action is a recipe for no action.

There’s actually a term for this: choice paralysis. Having too many choices makes it difficult for us to make decisions. Too many choices means we’re less likely to take action, and we’ll be less satisfied with our eventual decision.

(This is why it takes you twice as long to decide what you want at the Cheesecake Factory. BIG menu –> choice paralysis. Which for me leads inevitably to cheesecake. Touché, Cheesecake Factory.)


It’s a copywriter’s job to lead the reader to an action – whether that’s to buy now, click here, read on or sign up. Removing the need for decision-making by offering only one choice will eliminate choice paralysis.

But Joanna Wiebe makes a compelling case for a secondary reason in this article on Copyhackers. Giving every copy element one job to do makes it easier to measure its success.

If you’re measuring a single outcome – a single call to action (CTA) – it’s much easier to find out where your copy isn’t working. And then determine how to fix it.

When one element of copy in a collection of elements is not converting, you can focus your attention on that single problematic element. And when I say “collection of elements,” I mean the path to a sale. For example, from ad to landing page to shopping cart, or from headline to body to buy now button.

I loved Joanna’s assembly-line approach to identifying the problem. She even created this nifty infographic to illustrate it.

Courtesy of: Copy Hackers

When your copy isn’t converting, try this method of identifying the break point. Follow the “assembly line” to figure out which piece of copy needs work, then go to that problem point and fix it.

Have you tried this method? If so, I’d love to know how it worked for you.

Photo Credit: 123 Chroma Pixels via Compfight cc

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