What Converts Better: “Clever” Copywriting or Boring Benefits?

Recently I tried something “clever,” and it totally went down in flames.

Here's what happened…

My business partner John has this phrase that he uses a lot:

“For a software developer, creating a blog is like building your own lightsaber.”

In the Star Wars universe, every Jedi knight is required to create their own lightsaber as a rite of passage.

And for our audience, taking what you know and teaching it to others is a mark of a mature professional.

Anyway, I got all enamored with this idea and decided to try to use it to promote our “how to build a software development blog” lead magnet.

On the surface, this lightsaber concept seems like it has a lot going for it.

It's definitely an unusual angle. There's a geeky pop culture tie-in that our audience might appreciate. The mental image it conjures is vivid and striking.

So I decided to test it out. In Thrive Leads I created a couple of popups with two different headlines.

One took the straightforward approach, claiming that creating a software development blog can help you land a better job.

And the other one used this lightsaber idea.

I set them both up in a split test—a duel to the death, you might say.

I planned to let the test run for a week, but within a day the results were clear…

The straightforward, benefit-focused headline throttled my “clever” Star Wars reference like Darth Vader force-choking the life out of yet another worthless lieutenant.

I was a little disappointed—but not really surprised.

Sometimes you can hit a home run with a “clever” approach like this, but mostly copy like this bombs.

(Which should tell you something about the effectiveness of most of the ads you see every day. A majority of them try to be cute to stand out from the crowd. Just because you see ads that do this doesn't mean they work.)

In this case, I have an easy way to test out ideas and see if they have legs.

Most businesses don't have this luxury.

If there's real money on the line and you can't easily test, go with benefits over “clever” every time.