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Turning The Casual Scanner Into A Buyer

By Vanessa Selene Williams
Posted Friday, January 28, 2005

The world is full of scanners. Most people simply scan the page to see if anything piques their interest, rather than reading the ads, sales letters, or web copy. That’s why you should ensure that your copy is scanner friendly. That means placing headlines, subheads, and other devices throughout your copy that’s compelling enough to sell your customers on your business.

How can you turn the casual scanner into an active reader? More importantly, how can we turn a scanner into a buyer? First, ensure that your headlines can stand alone, without the support of other sentences. For most, that means getting rid of those one-word headlines. Headlines should include the benefit of your offering, evoke curiosity, or compel the scanner to read the main copy.

Don’t forget the subheads. They also should be compelling, preferably complementing the headline, giving enough power to nudge your reader from scanning to reading mode. Keep in mind good subheads support the main promise of your copy. If your headline, for example, promises to help your customers lose weight, your subheads could briefly explain that your product is clinically proven or has a secret ingredient. Subheads are also a great place to introduce your offers.

Another way to be a scanner’s friend is to use short paragraphs. Rule of thumb: Keep paragraphs between 3 to 5 sentences. If you must use a long sentence, place a short snappy paragraph after it.

The most popular way to generate interest: Use underlines, boldface, highlights, and italics throughout your copy, carefully. Too much can leave your customers overwhelmed and likely to stop scanning and move on. When using these tools remember, the purpose is to emphasize certain points.

Some ideas on what you should highlight in your copy:

* Call-to-actions phrases, like buy now, subscribe here, or receive your special offer today.

* Contact information, including toll-free numbers, emails, and web-sites.

* Major benefits supporting the promise of your copy

* Your rates and fees and how they compete

* Your business or product’s name.

Adding a second color to your copy boosts retention and readability. Especially, when using a medium that’s typically black and white like newspapers. What colors are best? Typically, the most used and most effective colors are red and blue. Try placing offers or premiums in different colors to emphasize and pull your customers in.

P.S. Don’t forget the P.S. An important aspect, most readers read the end, first. It’s a great spot to recap your offer and restate your benefits. This may also be a good spot to add a bonus, premium, or guarantee

About the Author
Vanessa Selene Williams is an independent writer who writes for businesses. To learn more about her and her services visit her online at ( or email her at


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