Friday, June 1, 2012

How to Avoid Writing Content That Sounds Canned

I am in the midst of writing email campaign copy, and I like to browse through other email campaigns to see what's out there. It seems that most emails I read lately are one big canned sales pitch. The in-your-face "buy my awesome new product" gets old. What happened to the good stuff? Where are the complimentary white paper downloads? Why aren't people including links to a helpful blog or article? Unfortunately, I've been hitting the unsubscribe button a LOT this week.

Canned content doesn't send a good message to your audience, and you come across sounding fake. I don't understand why marketers write five page emails. No one has the time to read long-winded emails that leave the reader feeling confused and bored.

When creating your content - whether it's an email campaign, social media update, or blog post - keep the following tips in mind:

1. Write with your "real" audience in mind. Obviously, you want to create content that people find interesting but create a tone within your content that your targeted reader understands. Write for real people and use language people will understand and appreciate. As a busy professional, I don't have the time to read a five page email. However, I can easily scan through three to four paragraphs...and if there is a free white paper or article download, you definitely have my attention! It's easy to download the information and then read it at my leisure. 

2. Don't copy your favorite blogger's writing style. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, but don't take on another blogger's persona. I am a big fan of  marketer Seth Godin. One of the reasons I like his content is that he has his own style and doesn't try to be someone he's not. His emails/blog posts are short and get right to the point. His content always teaches a "real-world" marketing and business lesson. I can relate to his tips and usually have an "a-hahhh!" moment when I read his content. As much as I like Seth Godin, he has his own style and I wouldn't think of copying it. Seth's writing style is what sets him apart from the millions of high-profile marketers out there, and brands him as "Seth Godin". 

3. Ditch the pitch. As a copywriter, I can write calls to action in my sleep. But there is a time and a place for the sales pitch. You don't have to pitch in EVERY piece of content you publish. Create a happy medium. Offer people informative, valuable content. You don't have to write ten page white papers to capture people's attention either - short blog posts can be just as informative. It goes back to the sales funnel. People won't buy your product or service if they don't know, trust, or like you. Give them a chance to get a feel for your brand and what you have to offer. A 24,7 sales pitch will turn people off and they will probably unsubscribe from your lists. Check out more content tips -- The Ego Turn-Off: Why Your Email Lists Unsubscribe. 

4. Don't be a pesky content blaster. Don't blow up your social media, mobile marketing and/or email campaigns with content-around-the-clock. This is a HUGE annoyance for the person on the other end. It's tacky and makes you look like a spammer. Enthusiasm is great, but channel your marketing enthusiasm accordingly. Set up an editorial calendar and space out your content throughout the days, weeks, and months. You don't have to share everything you know in one email or blog post. 

And don't have to be a prolific writer to create and share good content. Be yourself and find your own voice! 


  1. Very good points here, Therese. Being short, and to the point is always a great way to market.

  2. I can usually tell a canned message from the first or second sentence. I delete them all. If I happen to spot a link in the message, I might look at it, might not. What really turns me off is the canned message that says something that is obviously for a large audience but that implies that the person is trying to be personal, like, "I know it's been a long time since we talked..." if we never talked. I also consider how often that person has commented on my blog or FB page. :) If never, then why should I read their email?

  3. Karen, that is my BIGGEST pet peeve! Yes, it sounds very fake and not genuine. I instantly delete when I receive canned emails like that.

    Thanks, Randy!


Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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