13 Tactics to Get Your Marketing Messages Read
Editor's Note: Today's successful cross-channel writers and designers know their audience typically has a short attention span. People are scanners first, readers and responders second. What follows is a list of writing and design tips from seasoned Creative Director/Designer Patrick Fultz of DM Creative Group and Copywriter/Creative Strategist Pat Friesen of Pat Friesen & Company for how to use words and design to increase engagement.
Are your marketing messages viewed on screen, on paper or both? Wherever they're seen, the No. 1 goal of your writer-designer team should be to snag the scanner's s attention and create immediate engagement while realizing few people read every word. Try these tips to increase engagement — AKA response, sales, donations, clickthroughs or whatever other measure you use.
Patrick: Designers, please read the copy before you start designing. All of it. Yes, I know this sounds obvious to writers, but I also know — for a fact — many designers don't read the copy before designing. They design to make the copy look nice, but the design may or may not support the intent of the marketing message. Writers and designers should work as a team.
Pat: Work with your designer to highlight statistics, customer quotes and other bite-size pieces of intriguing copy that support benefit claims and address buying objections. Because these copy elements are often read first, use color, borders or varying typefaces to make them stand out.
Patrick: Understand if you're dealing with a heavy, average or impatient reader. This affects how much you should break up the density of copy using headlines, subheads and the other copy elements Pat just mentioned.
Pat: Make the length of your marketing message appropriate for the audience and your business objective. To engage more scanners into becoming readers, keep words, sentences and paragraphs short. Typically, 75 percent to 80 percent of your words should be five characters or fewer for maximum readability.
Keep sentences to 1.5 lines or fewer and paragraphs to six lines or fewer. This can be tricky when you're working in digital media because line lengths can vary, so work with your designer to get the desired result on paper or on screen ... not just in your Word document.
Patrick: Think of your layout and design as a roadmap that leads your scanner/reader through an email, direct mail brochure or landing page. Writers and designers should work together to determine eye flow using elements such as headlines, subheads, photo captions, charts, graphs and sidebars to pull the eye to the all-important call to action whether it's a button, mail-in reply device or 800-number.
Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.