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Don??t Distract Readers from What They are Doing.

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Don??t Distract Readers from What They are Doing

I?m working on a report for a company that puts out a newsletter on a monthly basis.

Their open rate and clickthrough rate are somewhat above industry averages. But I still wonder if they could do better.

Here?s what?s happening. Their newsletters have a purpose. Each issue promotes various services and provides links to more information on their site. And the writing is excellent. The tone is both personal and informative. The text is engaging, respectful and does a great job of building interest and then providing a clear, descriptive link forward.

So what?s the problem?

The problem is that I think a great deal of their clickthrough is derived not from these links to the services they are selling. I think much of the clickthrough comes from other links on the page.

Let me explain. All this great copy is surrounded by dozens of other links and clickable images to other parts of the site, few of which are directly related to the services being promoted.

The layout of the newsletter is a little like a web page. At the top and to the left of the first screen of the newsletter, about ten different links shout out for your attention.

In other words, the central content of the newsletter is great, but the surrounding elements are hugely distracting.

If the purpose of the newsletter is simply to generate as many clickthroughs to the site as possible, regardless of the landing page, then there?s no problem. But I don?t think this is the case. I think the purpose is to maximize the number of people who click through the links that are within the central content of the newsletter.

If I?m right, then they need to do a little redesigning and remove most of the elements that might distract people from the content they want to read.

And this is not found only within newsletters. The same problem can be found on many web site pages. You?ll be on a second or third-level page, well on your way towards achieving the task you have in mind, and suddenly you?ll find your attention being distracted by links, ads and offers unrelated to that task.

In short, be clear about your purpose and about what you want your visitors to do at any one point on your site.

And ask yourself, if people are just one click away from completing their task, do you really want to distract them by surrounding the central content with other, unrelated links?

And if you are publishing a newsletter, do you just want clickthroughs? Or do you want people to click through on the products or services you are highlighting in that particular issue?

Be clear about your purpose, and don?t allow unrelated elements to create distractions.

Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author, speaker and advocat of good writing. You can access all his archived newsletter articles on copywriting and writing for the web at his Excess Voice site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at his Freelance Writing Success site.

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