People Don’t Read and How Writers Can Adapt

It’s instinct to want to tell everyone about every detail of your product or service; outline all the benefits and really make the case. After all, they are all important points (and they truly are). But guess what? Email, or websites even, are not places to do that.

And the reason for this is simple. People read differently on screens than they do on paper, and with more time spent on phones (More email is read on Mobile than on desktop email clients. Stats say 54% of email is now opened on a mobile device – Litmus “State of Email” (March 2017)), that concept is only increased. And, they are in a million different places, doing a million different things while engaging with your content from a commuting on a train to walking down the street to sitting in a coffee house. Chances are, if they are on mobile, they are not solely focused on you.

All this is to say as good as your benefits are, it’s time to share them differently.

Today’s readers scroll through emails and websites scanning to identify highlights they find interesting. They move quickly–spending 59 seconds on average for websites. Therefore, it’s important that marketers adapt to this style. There are several different ways to achieve your goals and improve readability on your marketing communications at the same time. So next time you put pen to paper…er…fingers to keyboard, think about the following format considerations:

  • Always include a headline AND subheads (that contain different information).
  • Think about how your message could be conveyed graphically.
  • Use bulleted lists.
  • Set limits: Limit your paragraphs to 6 lines. Limit your sentences to 14 words. Limit your headlines to 8 words.

In addition to focusing on writing format, make sure your writing is strong. Each word is important and brevity wins the day on email in particular. Focus your overall message to one main point instead of many facts. Say only what you have to in order to tell your story or make your case. Write in active voice because it is more interesting than passive voice. It keeps readers engaged with your story longer. For example, “he sent” is quicker and more directly to the point than “he is sending”.

Also it’s important to make sure you have a strong and clear call to action that’s easy to accomplish wherever someone might be and whatever device they might be on. You can use data to understand how to do this. For example, your event registration, membership sign up or purchasing process may be too cumbersome or require too much information for someone to complete by phone. You can determine this by studying which device types you see the most conversions on.

If your process is too cumbersome to convert on mobile, think about ways to change that (require less information possibly) or ways that your call to action can adapt to the situation.

Does your marketing writing need help? Contact glee to get started on improving your messaging today!

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels

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