12 Strategic Keys to Generating Leads or Sales from “Skimmers”

12 Strategic Keys to Generating Leads or Sales from “Skimmers”

You might be surprised to know that many people who view your landing page, emails and direct mail piece don’t read all the copy. Instead, they skim—they quickly read only what stands out to them.

We call this type of reader a “skimmer.”

That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to write powerful, effective copy. You still need to persuade the readers who will read every detail of your content…and even notice the typo that everyone else overlooked.

That being said, there are key strategies to keeping the attention of skimmers—and motivating them to make a decision.

Overlook these strategies, and you’ll lose the attention of those who only skim your copy…and see an overall drop in response.

Here are 12 strategies to creating content that is compelling and powerful—enough to catch the attention of even the most hesitant skimmer.


Strategy #1: Headlines

70% of your success rate for a given email, ad or other form of content depends on how compelling your headline is. Powerful, effective headlines are especially critical to pull in the attention of skimmers.

Longer headlines usually outperform shorter headlines. In fact, in one test, headlines that were between 90-99 characters received a 0.43% higher response rate than headlines with less than 90 characters.

Using specific details will also motivate a reader to respond, as well as creating editorial-style copy. Try hot words such as “Now”, “Surprising”, “Save”, “Little Known”, “Secret”, “Shocking” and “Finally”. An effective headline will pull in even the most reluctant skimmer to read more and respond.


Strategy #2: Sub-headlines

Sub-headlines are used to divide content into readable portions and explain the subject or topic of the next portion of copy.

They also give you another powerful opportunity to pull in the attention of the skimmer.

Try writing bold, powerful sub-headlines that clearly explain what you are about to say—and why the reader (or skimmer) should care.


Strategy #3: Graphics

Skimmers won’t read all of your copy, but they will notice the graphics that you use. Pictures and other images can be powerful tools in helping to explain your unique selling proposition (USP).

They draw the eye and demand attention. For example, charts: Charts or graphs tell a story and help create credibility and persuade prospects.

Take a look at the statistic shown below:

power of graphics

Strategy #4: Captions

You should also use captions for your all images, graphics and photos…captions have a higher read-through rate than other copy.


Strategy #5: Infographics

Infographics are a powerful visual tool to explaining information quickly and clearly to skimmers. Create infographics to show surprising statistics or trends that support your offer or unique selling proposition (USP).


Strategy #6: Icons

Dramatically increase readership by placing a powerful image before a key copy point. For example, for a medicare project, I put five graphic icons that related to the five copy points. These icons broke up the copy and helped skimmers stop and read.


Strategy #7: Pull Quotes

A pull quote is a portion of text that “pops out” from the rest of the copy. Pull quotes help tell the story for the skimmer and entices them to read more—if you select the right pull quotes. Look for statements or phrases that stand out as being especially powerful, unique or surprising in your copy.


Strategy #8: Bullet Points

Use bullet points to list powerful details or facts, and make your copy stand out from the rest of the text. I usually use seven sizzling tease bullets to create drama and pull in the reader—or skimmer.


Strategy #9: Lists

Try using a list format for your copy to create intrigue and offer valuable information to the reader. Try “7 surprising reasons…” or “6 overlooked facts about…” with bold sub-headlines to guide prospects through the copy. Lists can be read and understood quickly—even if the skimmer only looks at the sub-headlines.


Strategy #10: Second color

Use second color within the copy to make certain points pop and stand out to skimmers. A yellow highlight or simply a different text color will make a specific phrase stand out and pull the reader in.


Strategy #11: Testimonials

An effective testimonial about product or service will feature a photo and brief pre-head summary in bold, and will intrigue the reader to read more. Skimmers may not read the majority of your content—but they will read a quick and compelling testimonial.


Strategy #12: No navigation distractions

Skimmers may become easily distracted from your message and offer if they have too many options to leave your page. In the case of creating a landing page or email, avoid too many links, buttons or navigation distractions that could lead a skimmer away from responding to call-to-action (CTA).

Try incorporating these elements into copy for landing pages, emails and direct mail pieces. These 10 key strategies will help ensure that you hold the attention of skimmers and motivate them to respond.


I have over 40 years of experience helping businesses and entrepreneurs create winning copy and strategic, effective marketing campaigns. If you would like to discuss your copy strategy, give me a call at (310) 212-5727, or email Caleb at caleb@cdmginc.com.


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