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Dangle the Chicken Leg Right in Front of Them

Who wants the chicken leg?

Sorry, there is no chicken leg, but I caught your attention which is the first part of writing successful copy.

But catching your attention is only the beginning. How do I continue to keep your eye? Good writing is a must. But there’s a lot more.

When you look at another person, there are elements you immediately notice. Part of that is guided by personal taste. But many people work to accent their best assets. Beautiful hair styled just right. A little shine. A specific cut of pants.

Crazy as it may sound, copywriters need to highlight the best parts of their copy in the same way.

Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) has been studying user experience for over 15 years. They’ve studied how users read and what makes for a good user experience.

And the bottom line is that creating a good experience for your reader gets more clicks.

Starting in 2006, using eye tracking equipment, NNG observed how users approach websites to gain information. Since then, they’ve continued with more studies to see what has changed and what’s stayed the same.

One key finding remains consistent. Humans are scanners. NNG states, “People are not likely to read your content completely or linearly.”

Think about looking at another person again. Do you look at everyone head to toe? Do you dismiss some people immediately? Readers do the same thing to your copy. The good thing is you can make your copy more appealing.

This does not mean that you don’t put together a well-written article. It means that you make the key points accessible. Use text features like headings, subheadings, bolding, underlining, and italics including good images.

Choose the features wisely. Your text should not look like a ransom note with words cut out of 20 paper magazines.

Choose the selections you highlight wisely as well. The reader will not appreciate being “tricked” into reading clickbait.

When NNG began studying how readers responded to text, the internet was plainer. There were fewer ads, sidebars, and images. Today’s internet is full of different options.

Those options are both good and bad. Early web surfers expected to read more to find the information they sought. Reading was more linear. Users read from left to right as they would a book. Webpages were set up that way.

Today’s internet user still reads to find answers. They just do it differently. Webpages have pictures and infographics that immediately attract attention.

People process images more quickly than text and use images to confirm that the information sought is on that page.

As the use of mobile devices has increased, many people don’t want to see a plain page of text.

Users read headlines. They view pictures and read captions. If the headings or images support the information a reader wants, more traditional reading will follow.

An interesting fact revealed in the studies was that if a user was reading an article, a text feature like a graphic or pulled quote in a different color or font could interrupt the user’s experience. This interruption often changed the readers behavior to scanning.

Knowing this shows the importance of choosing appropriate images and highlighting key points. Your goal is to keep the prospect’s eyes on your copy until they reach your Call to Action.

The user is trying to find the answer to a question or solution to a problem. Clear and concise writing is more likely to make that happen.

By chunking up your writing with headings, a reader is able to move quickly through the copy finding what they desire. Bulleted lists are another way to aid your reader.

Give anything you write a second look. It’s up to you to design your copy and content for easy consumption. If you’ve got your reader to look at your copy from head to toe, nice job. Can you do it again tomorrow?

Synthia Dove is a writer who can’t draw. Making text pretty and easy to read is something she can do. For original work or invigorating some stale copy, contact her at

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