How much time do you spend writing four seconds of copy?

The proof of the writing is in the reading.

As copywriting legend William Bernbach points out: "Whereas the writer is concerned with what he puts into his writing, the communicator is concerned with what the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read or listen". That's very good advice for all copywriters and direct marketers.

Research tells us that the average person reads offline copy at the speed of 200-250 wpm. So, if your typical sales letter contains around 350 words per page, how much time do you think your target customer will spend reading what you may have taken hours to write?

The answer is not 90 seconds. It's more like four seconds. That's because your target customer won't actually read your letter, they'll scan it and if they don't find meaning, relevance or value in four seconds, they're out. That's how long it takes for your work to live or die.

And whilst reading speed is about 25% slower for online content, the overall copy length and sentence length will generally be shorter. That means the time your audience spends scanning, rather than reading, your email copy will be about the same - four seconds.

Understanding what people see and read first when they scan your copy during those few fleeting seconds is the key to getting more of your sales letters and emails read and responded to. The process involves something called Fixing Points; a core element of Eye-track Management.

Fixing Points enable copywriters and marketers to predict and control how people read and absorb what we write. Once you understand them you'll be able to look at any sales letter or email and know within seconds whether it's likely to succeed or fail. You'll also know where it's going wrong and how to put it right. Imagine how much time, money and wasted opportunity that would save you.

You can learn more about Fixing Points, Eye-track management and persuasive copywriting by attending my one-day Copywriting Masterclass at the IDM in London.

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