What's the simplest way to force a reader to read on? Open a loop.
For example. Which of these sentences opens a loop?
1. "Officers save man from burning car"
2. "Officers battled to save man from burning car"
In the first sentence, the action is all over (man saved). In the second, we want to know if the officers won the battle. It's written in the past tense, so we know there's more to come (and there's also a strong implication the man didn't survive – but we don't know, and that's the point of a loop, it leaves us hanging on).
We might have written:
3. "Officers battle to save man from burning car".
But that fails too. It's a statement. It's written in the present tense. We already know we're not going to get an answer – at least not right now. Game over.
Here's another: "Freddie Smith, a homeless man from Oxford who lost his entire family in a tragic car accident, hit the jackpot yesterday.". Now we're rocking. What jackpot did he hit? Was it the lottery? And what happened in that car accident?
Or we could have written: "Freddie Smith, a homeless man from Oxford who lost his entire family in a tragic car accident, won the lottery yesterday.". Great. He won the lottery. Game over. And because we ended on the lottery, we might well have forgotten all about the car accident.
Words are subtle. Slight changes will keep us hanging on, or leaving in droves.
This is very different from A/B split-testing. With loops we know if we've opened one. With split-testing we haven't got a clue until the readers vote with their wallets.
And just to hammer that home, changing the colour of a button on a shopping cart may affect the conversion rate. But changing the tense of a sentence with intent WILL change the conversion rate.
To find out more about improving your copy so you make more sales, join me, Quentin Pain, at the Science of Copywriting.