Medical writers have been following the “script” for years: They write in short, concise sentences. They employ verbs; they eschew most adjectives. And whatever they're writing, they make their purpose clear by no later than the end of the second paragraph. As a group, physicians are also notoriously pressed for time that their acolytes know they must communicate in what might be called a “less is more” manner – or risk their boss' ire.
We haven't become a nation of physicians, but we have become a nation of scanners – people who, like physicians, quickly assess the length of an article, seize upon the high points and dispense with the rest. As for thoughtful, word-for-reading, it seems to have been relegated to college textbooks – for medical school and otherwise.
Factors that drive scanners
In fact, research shows only 16 percent of online visitors read articles word-for-word. They may not be as busy as physicians, but they are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day. And they want to keep up with as many as possible. For them, scanning has become less of a choice and more of necessity.
To this equation, add a fundamental change in how people are reading in the first place. In 2015, for the first time, more web traffic sped along on mobile devices than on computers and laptops. If you've ever tried to read a business email while sitting in a doctor's waiting room, then you already know how much you value clarity and brevity. So do others; the mobile medium demands it.
Follow the script
You may pride yourself on being an “old school” communicator, and of course there is still a place for long form content on your website. But when communicating with your customers through newsletters, emails and blog articles, you must follow the script. Your time and efforts, and your investment in your marketing efforts, wholly depend on it.
Remember, readers are in a hurry – even impatient. Your goal is to smooth the way, so:
Confine most blog articles to between 400 and 600 words.
Strive for short paragraphs containing no more than four sentences.
Break up text with sub-headers – generally, every three to five paragraphs.
Emphasize key words with bold or italic formatting, but do so sparingly or the effectiveness will be lost.
Utilize bullet points when possible.
Use strong verbs. (Find clues in weak adjectives, which usually can be discarded in favor of a more precise verb.)
Write in an inverted pyramid style, with information presented in order of descending importance. As journalists know, “burying the lead” – the main point – frustrates readers.
Write in an engaging, conversational manner. Journalists also are trained to “write like they talk,” a technique that can work particular wonders with a complex or multi-step process.
Restrict articles to one main idea. If you find an article veering off track or leading to other issues – and both are easy to do – save those ideas for separate articles.
When you want a second opinion on your content, call the marketing professionals at ADTACK for a consultation at 702-270-8772. As a full-service digital, ADTACK can help you strategize, conceptualize and implement a transforming marketing campaign for your business -- just as the doctor might order.