Looking for tips to make copy effective when readers skim.

by wheelstb 16 replies
I know that many readers skim copy and do not read it in its entirety, at least in one sitting.

I'm looking to become more educated on how to structure my copy so it will still effectively convey the message to a reader who is skimming the copy.

Any advice or resources would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
#copywriting #copy #effective #make #readers #skim #tips
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  • Profile picture of the author SARubin
    Originally Posted by wheelstb View Post

    I know that many readers skim copy and do not read it in its entirety, at least in one sitting.

    I'm looking to become more educated on how to structure my copy so it will still effectively convey the message to a reader who is skimming the copy.

    Any advice or resources would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    Well, if I had to put it into one word. That word would be "sub-headlines." (OK, that might be 2 words? But I hyphenated it, so now it's one)

    Sub-headlines are just like regular headlines, scattered throughout your copy.

    Ideally, each of your sub-heads should catch your readers attention, (just like the main headline). And, the sub-headline should give a compelling explanation of what that particular section of copy is about.

    The idea is... when someone skims your copy, and they see a sub-headline, they should instantly think, "hey, this is interesting," and it should stop them, and compel them to read the next few lines of copy.

    If you can get them to do that a couple times, then many people will go back and read your entire page. Because now they believe it's worth their time.


    Also, white-space helps to keep people reading your copy
    (this is like a sub-headline telling you what this next section is about)

    Basically, white space just means leaving a bit of blank space between sentences, and paragraphs, so when someone skims your page it doesn't look like one huge page of "hard to read" text.


    Also, on the web... A few scattered pictures don't hurt either. (just to break the copy up a bit)

    Hope this helps.

    All the best,
    SAR


    P.S. One last thing... If it's a full page sales letter, then a P.S. is almost always a good idea.
    Studies have shown that most people will read the P.S. because they believe that's where important info might be waiting. (see, you're reading this P.S. right now)

    So it's a good idea to "put something important in there." Usually a summary of your entire offer. That way, whether they read your entire letter, or just skip to the P.S. you can sum up, and re-inforce your message.
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    • Profile picture of the author Pat H
      Hey SARubin,

      Loved your points and admit the techniques you listed have slowed me down and kept me engaged when I'm scanning while reading copy.

      Thanks for chiming in and giving me some ideas to think about!
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  • Profile picture of the author scottroj
    /
    The beginning of your copy is most important.

    Before the reader's skim and leave reflex kicks in, you've got to grab there attention and persuade them to read the rest.
    • Take advantage of larger fonts. Bold text. And color formatting.


    You should leave plenty of white space, much like how you posted your question. Writing only a sentence or two before hitting that double space.


    Easy on the eyes, and most people don't like reading through a block of text. Although it is sometimes good to have periodic large blocks of text in the middle of your copy. An oddball paragraph in the middle that is longer than the rest -- stands out. Makes it look as though this part of your copy is giving more important information, and may be worth reading. So they are drawn to it. However, a different audience/person may respond differently and just skim through it.

    That is why it is important to always split test.

    Any way you can draw attention with graphics works wonders as well. Solid square outline with message inside. Or a dotted outline square. With different colors.. (split test!)

    And never underestimate the power of arrows. A simple arrow pointing to what you want your audience to see most, just works. We are biologically, naturally compelled.

    -------------------->>> Even text based arrows work.

    ~Cheers
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    • Profile picture of the author Pat H
      scottroj, Love your ideas about different colors and arrows. AND split testing! Will try out your ideas too! Thanks for adding to the discussion.
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  • Profile picture of the author wheelstb
    Thank you both for the advice. I agree white space is important almost everywhere. People are turned off by massive blocks of text. Even on forums, I will sometimes turn away from a question if it's just massive blocks of text.

    Subtitles are a great idea. Thank you.

    I know that images are important as well. But, I never thought about arrows.

    Thank you both for the great advice. Are there any resources I can read through regarding page layout for copy? I've done some googling but haven't been able to come up with a darn thing.
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    • Profile picture of the author joncoates89
      'I suggest reading Dan Kennedy's "Ultimate Sales Letter" - 8th Edition

      Thats the best guide i'm reading (and still reading) when it comes Copy Writing... Dan Kennedy tends to stray away from claiming expertise in regards to the Internet Hemisphere of Copy Writing - though is constantly emphasizes the "Universal Basic Principals" and how They are law..and it doesn't matter the platform...

      ...Also Gary Halbert is someone I have been watching and reading alot lately, apparently those two fellows I have just mentioned..when it comes to Direct Response, Mail Order Advertising and Copy-writing - Sales on Print..they are both pretty much the God Fathers
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  • Profile picture of the author GordonJ
    Originally Posted by wheelstb View Post

    I know that many readers skim copy and do not read it in its entirety, at least in one sitting.

    I'm looking to become more educated on how to structure my copy so it will still effectively convey the message to a reader who is skimming the copy.

    Any advice or resources would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    https://www.quicksprout.com/2014/04/...cking-studies/

    This article may help you. One thing I've done over the years is to place Easter Eggs in my work. Someone new, a skimmer, won't see them. But I have lists of buyer into the thousands and customers have been trained to look for them, slowing their eye tracking down.

    If selling something, GET attention and keep it throughout...give the skimmer a left to right, top to bottom, for English speaking countries. And put speed bumps as others have given you. Best thing you can do is to know your audience or prospect. Gain and KEEP attention.

    GordonJ
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  • Profile picture of the author Rhino99
    As a last resort you could add a key takeaways box at the end, with an action summary on what they need to do. This is more common in articles (inspired by the Johnson offer summary box used in direct mail).
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    Sub-headings are good and also use bullet points.
    If people skim, they'll go from one to the next instead of having to read whole sentences.

    Plenty of white space. I never write more than 5-6 lines before more white space IF I am writing sentences.

    Different size font can help, as does colour as long as it's not overdone.
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    Cheers, Laurence. Writer/Editor/Proofreader.
    Check out my site or Blog. Ask if you have questions.

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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
    Originally Posted by wheelstb View Post

    I'm looking to become more educated on how to structure my copy so it will still effectively convey the message to a reader who is skimming the copy.
    Something that I've added to my current Copy is a little J-Box (after the teaser bullets) that basically gives my readers a "Quick Tip." (That's literally the heading.) Something that is brief, yet valuable.

    The theory is that people that are scrolling through the Copy will stop of these "Tip boxes." (And, hopefully, be more likely to read the Copy.)

    Jonathan
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    "Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity."―Joseph Sugarman
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    • Profile picture of the author Pat H
      Love your Quick Tip / Tip box idea. I'll try that for sure!
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    Bullet points and sub-headings work well together.
    Perhaps the occasional change in the colour of words.
    Capital letters for words hat MUST be read.
    Combining some or all of these points will greatly help you.
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    Cheers, Laurence. Writer/Editor/Proofreader.
    Check out my site or Blog. Ask if you have questions.

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  • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
    Originally Posted by wheelstb View Post

    Any advice or resources would be greatly appreciated.
    Joanna Wiebe from CopyHackers has some good stuff on Subheads and Cross heads.

    You can catch the replay of her interview in the WAMA section of the forum. She had a set of good Ebooks out covering a number of copywriting subjects which would be worth a read.

    I'm surprised no-one has talked about the importance of the Intro and opening loops.

    They are an important part of getting the viewer to read.

    Best regards,

    Ozi
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  • Profile picture of the author Homewriting
    Typically for me, I try to get the title, and the first paragraph as interesting as possible. Then put the information in the following paragraphs, and end it at least on a good note. Most readers (myself included) tend to read the first part, skim the rest, and then read the ending before moving on. So I try to structure it so it's entertaining at the start, technically in the middle and end just as entertaining as the first.
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    • Profile picture of the author Diana S
      Originally Posted by Homewriting View Post

      Typically for me, I try to get the title, and the first paragraph as interesting as possible. Then put the information in the following paragraphs, and end it at least on a good note. Most readers (myself included) tend to read the first part, skim the rest, and then read the ending before moving on. So I try to structure it so it's entertaining at the start, technically in the middle and end just as entertaining as the first.
      A slightly different alternative to this is the inverted pyramid structure of writing. There are a lot of articles on how to maximize its effectiveness - everyone reading this should check it out.

      As a copywriter, this is my go-to technique!
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    You have already received a lot of great tips so I wouldn't hammer a sunken nail. One other tip I would add is to promise the reader something early on for reading through your copy. Let them know what you will share with ans an IMMEDIATE reward for reading.

    For example you may write: "As you read below would discover the one sure way to ----BENEFIT."
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