Only about 20% of your copy is going to get read. The rest will simply be scanned. I’m sure you’ve heard the statistic before. It’s nothing new. While it might sound frightening or frustrating, it’s a fact of copywriting life. So what do you do next? Give up? What difference does it make if only about 20% will be read anyway?
It makes a world of difference. Especially if you understand that there are some sections of your copy that are practically guaranteed to get read. If you know what these are and work to reinforce them, you’ll see your conversions increase dramatically whether your copy is geared toward online or offline promotions.
Headlines have always been and will always be the most important section in any copy. They are the first thing to get read and have the greatest impact on whether any of the other copy gets read. Those stories you’ve seen floating around the Internet about marketers who have made minute changes to a headline and tripled their conversion rates are true. It happens all the time. In fact, it’s happened to me.
Headlines and sub-headlines can guide your visitors to read deeper into your copy. If you set up a structure of progressive headlines (http://www.marketingwords.com/articles/articles_progressheadlines.html), you’ll have a better shot getting your point across. Pay a lot of attention to your headline. It’s the powerhouse of your copy.
Captions started with newspaper journalists. When they would run a picture with a story, they would add a few words underneath to explain what or who the picture was of. People got into the habit of looking for the captions in order to relate the importance of the image with the information they were receiving. This still holds true. Captions in advertising pieces are highly read. Don’t waste the space!
When you scan something — an article, a book, a newspaper, a magazine, a website — what do you read? Almost everyone reads the first sentence of each paragraph. These sentences are vitally important in order to get your potential customers interested enough to keep reading. If you create exceptional first sentences, one of two things will happen. One: The prospect will be more likely to continue reading the copy. Two: The first sentences in each paragraph will be enough to convince him/her to buy.
FIRST IN BULLETED LIST
Just as with the first sentence in each paragraph, people also almost always read the first entry in a bulleted list. If it hits home, they might keep reading. But, knowing that you have their attention for at least one second, always make sure your first bullet point is extremely powerful and enticing.
Writing a direct mail or Web sales letter? The PS is another hot spot. Take advantage of this real estate. Repeat offers, remind readers of bonuses, reinforce guarantees or recap limited-time offers. This section is the final pitch before your reader either acts or trashes your copy so make it count.
Have you noticed something about these five sections? Why do you think they are virtually guaranteed to get read in any piece of copy? They are unusual. They are limited. They stand out. They are eye-catching.
You only have a limited number of headlines and sub-heads in copy. They are almost always offset by bolding or underlining so they easily catch the eye of the reader. Captions only appear when there are images. They do not appear all throughout the copy. First sentences are also rare. Only one sentence in each paragraph can be the first one. This tells the reader to keep going or jump to another section that might be of more interest. First entries in bulleted lists are unusually formatted and catch the eye of the reader. PS’s? There’s only one, and since it’s the last thing on the page, most often, it stands out too.
These rare elements give you five guaranteed shots at building curiosity, promoting benefits, generating interest and closing sales. If you haven’t done it before, now is the time to review your copy to be sure you’re making the most out of these opportunities.
About the author
Karon Thackston is a veteran copywriting pro who specializes in SEO copy. Learn how to write SEO copy that impresses the engines and your visitors at http://www.copywritingcourse.com. Get more tips on incorporating keyphrases into your copy with Karon’s latest e-report “How To Increase Keyword Saturation (Without Destroying the Flow of Your Copy)” at http://www.copywritingcourse.com/keyword.