Message & Media: Writing by the Numbers
Direct response writers are more than wordsmiths. First, we're psychologists who understand what motivates our audience to act. We're also general contractors responsible for building strong messages that encourage people to respond and making it easy for them to do it. Fortunately, we have a variety of tools to help.
In addition to words and the images they conjure up, we also have numbers to help us attract the attention of scanners and transform them into readers. These folks aren't necessarily accountants, engineers or data analysts. They are simply people who are drawn to 1,000,000 vs. one million.
Writers, designers, creative directors and approving managers take note: To create successful direct response marketing messages for all channels, you need to understand how, when and why to mix numbers with your words. It can make a significant difference in open, clickthrough and call rates, as well as bottom-line sales.
Why? Numbers attract attention in a split second and support benefit statements with credible specifics. And here's the best part when you're counting Twitter characters or editing print copy to fit: Numerals typically take up less space than the characters it takes to say the same thing in words. Example: 39% vs. thirty-nine percent or 39 percent.
Direct mail writers have long known a 2-for-1 offer is stronger than Two-for-One because it's a faster, easier read. Jakob Nielsen's Web eye tracking studies confirm that on Web pages "numerals stop the wandering eye and attract fixations, even when embedded within a mass of words that users otherwise would ignore." Nielsen goes on to explain that Web users are attracted to numerals because they represent facts … a truism whether you see them on the Web, in email or in print.
Here are eight tips for how, when and why to use numbers/digits/numerals to make your copy/content more engaging, more authoritative and more likely to generate action.