Eliminating the Eye Stutter: My Secret to Writing Silky Smooth, Easy-To-Read Email and Autoresponder Copy …
Down here in Southwest Missouri, there's a place called Branson …
You may have heard of it — a quaint little resort town featuring lots of theatres showcasing old Country and Western stars and former Vegas headliners, as well as a wide assortment of funnel cake stands, airbrush T-shirt shops, and bumper boat rides.
A few years ago, one of those theatres belonged to a guy named Mel Tillis. Mel is in the Country Music Hall of Fame, has recorded more than 60 albums, and still tours today.
And, while Mel is certainly a talented vocalist and musician, his "hook" (to coin a direct-response copy phrase) isn't his music. It's his stuttering.
That's right — Mel has a horrible stutter. And, it doesn't appear when he's singing, only when he's talking.
So, most of his in-between-songs shtick revolves around trying to tell jokes and funny stories, fumbling miserably, and the audience giggling.
Of course, much of this is most likely staged and scripted to deliver the biggest laughs. However, Mel has built an entire career around his vocal disability.
But, while a stuttering issue may pay the bills for an aging Country and Western singer, it's exactly what you DO NOT want to do with your emails and autoresponders.
Let me explain …
Have you ever found yourself cruising smoothly through a good book, or an engaging piece of copy, and then — WHAM — it's like you hit a brick wall?
This is what I call an "eye stutter." It's when there's something in the copy that literally stops the eye from going any further, like a weird word, phrase, or formatting issue.
You know what I'm talking about. It's that one sentence you have to read two or three times before you get it, or the phrase that just doesn't jive, or a word that looks like it doesn't belong on the page.
These are all things that interrupt the flow of copy — and they are DEADLY to an autoresponder and email copywriter.
Why? Because how the copy flows is extremely important to getting it read all the way through. Think about it — how many times have you started reading an email, article, or sales letter that you were genuinely interested in, but lost focus after a couple of paragraphs?
I'll bet it was because the copy was so HARD TO READ, it took too much effort to consume. So, you quit. After all, you have better things to do than struggle through poorly-written crap, right?
Well, I've got news for you. Your readers are the exact same way. They won't stick with something that doesn't move smoothly from one thought to the next, with everything working together in perfect synchronization. If it's bumpy, choppy, and filled with eye stutters, they'll click away. Case closed.
So, how do you eliminate these nasties? Here's three tips to help you smooth out your copy and make it as easy as possible to read …
Don't Use The Same Word Or Phrase Twice In Close Proximity: This is one I see all the time from my Autoresponder Apprentice students. They'll use a word or phrase twice (or even three times) in the space of only a couple of sentences. What this does is cause the eye to stop when it reaches the second instance, because for a brief split-second the brain is thinking, "Didn't I just read that line?" So, it’s forced to re-evaluate, see that it's a different usage, and move on.
Even though it happens in a virtual blink, it still interrupts the flow of your copy, causing a disruption in what you're ultimately trying to do: Get the reader to take action.
Here's an example from a student of mine:
"And, like the Mississippi, now that it’s up and running, the income flows and flows. It reminds me of the income flow some people have found on the Internet.
The Internet, of course, is ideal for income flow … "
Yikes. Three instances of the phrase "income flow" in one paragraph. Talk about a speed bump.
I would rewrite the section something like this:
"And, like the Mississippi, the income flows smoothly, 24/7. That’s the way the Internet works. Easily producing passive profits every day, all day."
As you can see, I took out the road blocks and made it easier to read. And better yet, the whole idea of passive income is clearer, too.
Take Out Unnecessary Words: It's the truth — every piece of copy has words that can be completely wiped out. Grammatically correct? Sure. But necessary? Not by a long shot!
Remember, we're trying for smooth, easy to read, eye-stutter-free copy here. Which means if you can chop a few words from your sentences (like "that" or "it") to make them shorter and simpler, then by all means do it. Tighter copy reads faster and with more punch, so make sure you always edit before submitting to a client.
Here's another example:
"Register here and now and not only can you hit the road to happiness immediately you can save a hundred bucks on Course One."
All the "you's" and "you can's" have cluttered this sentence up. Here's what I would do to make it cleaner and sharper.
"Register now and save a hundred bucks on Course One, guaranteed to help you hit the road to happiness faster and easier."
See? With just a few seconds of work, I took out most of the bumpiness and made it much more consumable.
Read Your Copy Out Loud: This is so powerful, but I see very few copywriters doing it. We have to remember that our copy is virtually speaking inside someone's head. So, there's a voice — a clear, discernable voice — being heard. And, by reading your copy out loud, you'll actually hear that voice and how it sounds to your reader.
This helps you eliminate those places in your copy that "snag" the flow and disrupt the reader’s attention. Maybe it's a sentence that's too clunky or a phrase that doesn't quite fit right. Whatever it might be, reading the copy aloud will help to highlight it more than just scanning it with your eyes.
Rule of Thumb here is, if you stumble over something while reading it with your own voice, the prospect will stumble as well when they hear it in their head. So, immediately go back and rework that copy until it flows unhindered.
It may seem like something trivial, but believe me — this is a threat we need to take seriously. Because one little eye stutter can yank a sure-fire buyer away from your copy, never to return.
So, take these three tips and implement them into your email and autoresponder copy right now. You'll instantly start crafting clearer, more effective messages for your clients and your own products.
Now go get 'em!
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