E-letter vs. Print Letter: No Difference
“Times change, people don’t.” John CaplesOctober 29, 2013 By Denny Hatch
On Sept. 27, 2013, the following appeared in my Yahoo inbox:
A message from CEO
David L. Brown
When the CEO of a company I do business with sends me email, I open and read it. He is an important guy in my life and maybe he has some news.
[Click on the thumbnail in the media player at right to see what arrived.]
Alas, David L. Brown, his copywriter and his designer know nothing about how to successfully communicate.
In Terms of Design
"Avoid gray walls of type," said David Ogilvy.
I would expand on that: "Avoid gray walls of gray mouse-type."
David Brown's designer broke both these rules. In a word, his letter was visually unpleasant.
Example: the following line stretches across the page:
... to meet your business' specific needs, starting with an in-depth interview with you. We want to
The above was printed in one line 95 characters long (including spaces).
Online Readability: Line Length Matters
I had an exchange with Christian Holst of the Baymard Institute in Copenhagen. Here are the nuts-'n'-bolts of making it comfortable for the online reader:
Having the right amount of characters on each line is key to the
readability of your text. It shouldn't merely be your design that dictates
the width of your text, it should also be a matter of legibility. . .
In order to avoid the drawbacks of too long and too short lines,
but still energize your readers and keep them engaged, we
suggest keeping it within the range of 50-75 characters per line.
—Christian Holtz, Baymard Institute
The above two paragraphs by Holtz run a maximum of 75 characters per line (including spaces} in black type. They make for comfortable reading.
Okay, Let's Parse This Sucker
Dear Loyal Customer,
Why was I greeted with the generic "Dear Loyal Customer?"
I have been a customer of Network Solutions for years—all the way back to when it was VeriSign.
I have bought myriad domain names from these people. Network Solutions knows my websites, knows my purchasing history and knows my name.