The Difference Between Reading and Just Looking

We recently did an A/B split test on the copywriting format of one of our email campaigns. Everything between the two emails was exactly the same: calls to action, landing pages, design; even the context of the copy was similar. The variation of the two was the way the copywriting was written into the emails. We were curious to see whether a paragraph-like, one-way conversation style was more compelling than outlining the copy point by point, in a bulleted list. The results were interesting–it made no difference. So this brought up an intriguing question: Are people reading our email copy, or just looking at it?

The study indicates that the copywriting in your email doesn’t control the overall performance of the message, but instead acts as the liaison, leading your subscribers to your main calls to action that are relevant to their interests. From point A to point B, if the email is well designed with appropriate calls to action, your subscribers will click through to your landing pages to know more. From here they will read your copy, since they feel it directly corresponds to their point of interest.

This is where copy must be the most engaging and relevant; once you clearly have their attention and they are looking for further information. All copy is important to help produce a quality product, but be mindful of when and where your readers are actually reading your copy, and when they are simply scanning the page for relevance. This will lead to subscribers actually reading what you write, and, if it is written well, will lead to greater conversions and higher revenue.


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About Colleen Masters

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  • Tricia McCune Bolam says:

    This was an interesting test. I can’t wait to test it more. I know the copy and its tone is important, but what if just a few simple changes in one email aren’t enough. When we change a landing page it can take months to ramp up. What if changing our writing style is the same way?

    I think you brought up some good points about landing page copy. If your email is lead generating then all it really should do is get people to want to know more or ask questions. Then it is up to the landing page to do the work to provide that relevant information without giving all the answers.

    Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Why fill out the form if the landing page answers all your questions?

  • Jake Walsh says:

    Interesting! I’ve often wondered that myself, but never tested it.

    Do you happen to have links to the online versions of the campaign? I’d love to see how you structured the test.

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