You’ve written what you think is a solid 1,000 words on a topic in which you’ve an expert. It covers all the key points, you make all the arguments flawlessly, and you post it online where you normally post these sort of articles.
Too bad most of what you wrote will never get read — not because it wasn’t found online, but because people don’t read.
According to the consulting firm Nielsen Norman Group, readers only consume 20% of content on a page. That means only about 200 of your in-depth, thoughtful, priceless words will reach people’s eyes and brains (as for what’s comprehended and remembered, that’s a different issue altogether).
Given that readers only consume 20% of content on a page, what should you do to combat this?
You could write shorter, start with the most important information, or simplify the language. They’re all important, but I would argue the most important is the put the most important information first.
Here’s why: People don’t read online copy the same way they read books or magazines. They do what the website Econsultancy calls “scanning.” They scan the web page looking for the answer to their question. Usually, that question deals with a pain point: Can you solve my pain point? So, start with that I can solve your pain point.
I’m not saying the other two choices aren’t right answers, too. You could make the argument that all of the above is the best choice. Writing shorter increases the odds that more will be read, and using easy-to-understand words also keeps people reading.
So, write copy with scanners in mind. Start with the most important information first. Many people subscribe to this outline: This is what I’m going to tell you, this is me telling you, this is what I’ve told you.
But also consider some of Econsultancy’s tips: using descriptive headlines, bolding the most important info, making your headlines descriptive and to the point, and keeping the paragraphs to 1-2 sentences.
It is still possible to write compelling copy that’s brief and to the point. In fact, it’s becoming required. Make sure you can, or hire someone who can.