Here’s the deal—people are busy. The web is noisy.
The digital world has trained your customers to glance over written text to decide if it’s worth investing additional seconds from our lives.
Time is a limited resource.
Instead of reading from left to right, top to bottom, everyone looks for “sign posts” instead. These signal the general content and interest factor of a written piece.
But, this style of “scanning” isn’t just limited to content we view on the internet.
Scanning is now the litmus test customers subconsciously apply to all written text, including all those thoughts you’ve written to promote your business. Pass this test and you’ll get their attention for a few minutes. Fail and you’ve just wasted your time.
How modern readers scanners look at your content
Professor Siegfried Vogele, dean of the Institute for Direct Advertising and Marketing in Germany, conducted research of readers’ eyeballs as they view new content.
Tracking eye movement with cameras, he found people are most apt to look at photos and headlines first.
Then they move to short headings & subheadings.
Lastly, they might look at full sentences, paragraphs, full articles.
Decades later another study detailed even more interesting findings, preferably as readers respond to web copy.
This study is worth a read. But since time may be limited…
Do these 6 simple things NOW to ace the scanning test:
Use more headings. Skimmers are searching for these. Short, descriptive headings will guide your skimmers’ eyes.
Use more lists. Stop embedding your lists within paragraphs. Bulleted and numbered lists are easier to read.
Write short paragraphs. For web copy that means 2-3 sentence paragraphs. For print copy, aim for paragraphs no longer than your thumb. Literally.
Use less I’s but use more you’s. Write about the things your reader will care about. Tell them what THEY will get, learn, or understand.
Cut the crap. Words such as “that” tend to be extraneous. “We believe” should be axed. Every word must add value. Scrap the rest.
Understanding your audience’s needs ─how they prefer clear messages, eye-catching visuals, and concise sentences─ is key to building trust & scaling up your business success.
You will become an authority in your field if you can feed your audience content in the form they respond to best.
In a noisy, muddled world, if you can write for skimmers you will stand out.
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