Do you have to copywrite persuasive email blasts, email newsletters or sales letters? You've probably heard the advice "write short for email."
It is easy to say, but how do you really do it?
Whenever we hire a new writer here at MarketingSherpa, we hand them a printed report, 'The Editorial Process' by Harry Baisden, published by the Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Association.
The report was actually created for print newsletter journalists, but so much of Baisden's advice applies to email, that we asked him for permission to share a few of the most useful sections with you:
-> Short words list
Use this list (or a similar one of your own making) as a shoehorn to tighten your copy and make it more readable:
Don't say: == When you can say: At the time == when Currently == now Is able to == can Requirements == needs Approximately == about Increase == gain Consume == use Consumption == use In order to == to Reduced == cut In favor of == for During == in However == but Production == output Myself == me As yet == yet Is a person == who is In the near future == soon Utilize == use Numerous == many Facilitate == ease Individual == man or woman Remainder == rest Initial == first Initiate == begin or start Implement == do Sufficient == enough Attempt == try Referred to as == called With the possible exception == except For the reason that == because Lacked the ability to == couldn't At this (that) point in time == now (then At a later date == later Is going to == will Take into consideration == consider Has the capability == can Voiced opposition (support) == opposed (supported On a daily basis == daily (same for weekly, etc) In addition to== also In excess of == more than Calls into question == questions Prior to == before The fact that == that Pointed to the fact == noted In light of the fact that == since In the near term == soon
-> Strong verbs & copy intros that hook readers
Strong verbs are the key to good leads. The more activity you can show with your verb selection, particularly in the lead, the better the chance you are going to hook your reader.
Don't say: When you could say: Determined the truth of == verified Gave permission to == permitted Held a meeting == met Proved of benefit to == benefited Put in an appearance == appeared Reached an agreement == agreed Submitted his resignation == resigned Take into consideration == consider
Another clue to the weak lead is "not." Any time you see that word in your lead, you can probably improve on it by getting rid of the negative and using a positive sentence with a negative connotation.
Example: "Democratic leaders expect the bill to fail" is stronger, shorter, and more concise than "Democratic leaders do not expect the bill to pass."
-> Words you can eliminate altogether
You can tighten your writing even more by cutting out some common words that do little more than clutter up your writing.
For example, in the Short Words list above, I advised using the word "now" instead of "currently." If you are writing in the present tense and there is no need to compare what is happening now with what happened in the past or is expected to happen in the future, why even use "now?"
You can change: "ABC Widget Co. says it plans to introduce a new solar-powered widget in January. Currently, the company produces only standard electrical widgets."
To: "ABC Widget Co. says it plans to introduce a new solar- powered widget in January. The company now produces only standard electrical widgets."
Why not rebuild the sentences into something that takes advantage of present tense to get rid of the "now" and is just as clear?
"ABC Widget Co., a leading builder of standard electrical widgets, says it plans to introduce a new solar-powered widget in January."
Here is a list of words that you might want to think twice before using:
That Both Now Altogether Personal Very Truly Essentially Basically Nature (as in "a friendly nature") Nice Literally Importantly Interestingly Feature Factor Either (don't use for both, particularly)
…Next week: Part II of Baisden's advice for writers.
Our thanks to the Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Association for permission to quote from Baisden's report: http://www.newsletters.org
The views and opinions expressed in the articles of this website are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect in any way the views of MarketingSherpa, its affiliates, or its employees.