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Email Marketing: Writing for Scanners

Posted by Jane Litchfield on Dec 8, 2014 5:06:00 PM

Email Marketing: Writing for Scanners

You probably won’t read to the end of this

Digital copywriting is humbling. Much as we would like to think people read every precious word, we know better. (With the exception of this post, of course.)

Email readers are in a hurry, their inboxes are brimming, and they’re probably reading our brilliant messages on their phone while they wait for the elevator or pretend to have a conversation.That’s why writing scannable digital marketing copy is more important than ever.

Eye tracking studies tell us readers spend the most time on the left side of the screen, on the first few words of a headline or sentence, and on the first line of a paragraph. They also like subheads. (And photos of babies.)

So when writing email copy, the most important words should be at the start of headlines, sentences and paragraphs.

How to write email copy for scanners

  • Front-load headlines - Benefit words are the most important, so begin headlines with them. Think of words like Get, Find out, Save, How to, Solve, Why…
  • Re-position text links - Scanners are most likely to notice text links at the start of a line. Instead of “To get your $5 savings, print this coupon today.” try “Print this coupon now to save $5.”
  • Sprinkle with subheads - The eye stops here.  Use subheads frequently and make them meaty, not cute. If people read only your subheads, they’ll still get your message.
  • Don’t forget bullets - Whenever you find yourself writing a list in a sentence, try switching to bullets. Aim for a maximum 5 bullets; if more, insert a subhead and start a new list.
  • Slash paragraphs - Start a new one for every point you want to make. Scanners will miss a second point in the same paragraph.
  • Test and learn - To make sure we stay humble, however, testing can always prove us wrong. Maybe your readers like text links at the endof sentences. Find out.

And look! You read all the way to here.

Topics: Email Design, Copywriting, email engagement, Email Marketing

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