Message & Media: When Less Is More
2. Outer Envelope Teasers
The job of an outer envelope (OE) teaser is to get the mail piece opened. The fewer words it takes to do this effectively, the more likely you are to snag a scanner's attention because you only have a few seconds.
But that doesn't mean you always have to limit teaser copy to five words or less. Here are OE teasers of varying length with targeted appeal:
- Inside: Your chance to tell the NRA to go to hell.
- Welcome to the magazine for women who love to act their age.
- DO NOT BEND: Photos & postcards enclosed
- Has the Lincoln cent overstayed its welcome? Story inside …
3. Subject Lines
If you come from a direct mail background, think of email subject lines as OE teasers. The connection is that both need to hook your reader's interest in an instant. And both must motivate the reader to take physical action to open your message.
Because subject lines are gatekeepers to generating response, they should be tested. Pay special attention to words at the beginning of your subject lines because scanners frequently don't get beyond the first two or three. Here are some examples from my own inbox:
- Final hours of 2012's last big sale
- Last Chance | Save 40% off fall favorites
- We [heart] Hedgehogs & Macarons … here's why
4. Call to Action
The call-to-action copy I write for print ads and direct mail packages has improved dramatically since I began writing for digital media. Why? You don't write a paragraph or even a sentence for call-to-action "button" copy in an email or on a landing page.
Typical digital call-to-actions start with a verb and have a two- or three-word payoff:
- Try it free
- Buy it now
- Get a recipe
- Use this calculator
- Read the case study
- Watch a demo
5. Photo Captions
The captions and cutlines found under photos are another example of when fewer words have more impact. Readers are drawn to pictures, particularly of people, and once the eye lands on an image, the next stop is the copy below it.