07/05/2015

By Chelsea Reay, Content Manager at Fieldworks. Author of eat glitter for breakfast and shine all day and other indispensable content marketing insights, all of which are available through Fieldworks’ blog.


Right, bear with me on this one. Imagine Prince Charming is your email, and Cinderella is your prospect. As a marketer, your job is to split test as many variables as possible until you find the glass slipper that fits.

For most marketers, the shape of that shoe is design; optimising layout, copy, colour, to find just the right format. But all the time, there’s an ugly sister lurking in the background — content.

Being a copywriter I’m bound to say this, but text is the forgotten hero in the majority of marketing email stories. Whether due to a lack of dedicated writing resources, time constraints, interfering product managers (or all of the above), words come second to pictures.

In truth, though, changing even a single sentence can dramatically impact click through rates.
An interesting webinar I recently tuned into cited the example of a betting company, which included the disclaimer ‘we will never spam you’ in its sign up box. Although it was a declaration of genuine intentions, even the mention of the word spam was sufficient to send conversion rates crashing by 20%.

Simple pitfalls such as this can have a massive impact on overall performance, which can’t be overcome with even the cleverest design tweaks. Yes, copy is creative, but there’s also a science to the way we consume the written word — and this should underpin all emarketing campaigns.

Copy science fact #1 — people read downwards on a screen

Ever heard of the F pattern? If not, your online content writing world is about to be rocked! Digital consumers will scan the left hand side of the screen to decide whether the rest of the sentence is worth reading, so there’s no point saving your best words for last.

Copy science fact #2 — negative breeds negativity

I’m having to break this rule in order to explain it. Even if you’re using it in a positive phrase — don’t forget, never settle etc. — dour descriptions put people off, just as the aforementioned betting company found.

Copy science fact #3 — digital readers need to breathe more often

It takes twice as long to read a page of text online than it does in print. What does this mean for copywriters? Keep your sentences succinct and your paragraphs perfunctory. If you can’t read a phrase out loud in a single breath, your recipient will struggle to assimilate it.

These 3 examples are just scratching the surface of writing effective emarketing text. However, if I gave everything away, you’d all be amazing copywriters and I’d be out of a job.
I will leave you with one final pearl of wisdom.

Even with every letter optimised, there’s still no substitute for testing. All too often there are exceptions that fly in the face of copy science. Only by trial and error against your database will you find your fairytale ending.