Is it just me or is the paragraph dead?
Like most rising copywriters, I have a swipe file, a place to hold writing samples from writers I enjoy and respect. Given my line of work, I subscribe to a lot of sales emails. I follow many successful coaches and consultants who write ad copy for their online products.
However, I’ve noticed that this niche loves the one-line paragraph. In some emails, I can’t find a single paragraph that runs onto the next line. The one-line paragraph has become the next, hot, copywriting trend (and also my newest pet peeve).
Here’s an excerpt I pulled from a recent email:
This thing is seriously lethally potent.
And has been stress-tested in over 416 different industries and niches.
Generating over $1.33 billion in sales.
The copy went on like this for 20 more lines. And guess what?
My eyes glazed over and I closed my inbox. I didn’t hit the CTA button. I didn’t buy the marketing resource.
If this was my experience, then might it happen to your customers, too? Are your customers wising up to the gimmick? I think it’s highly likely, which means the one-line paragraph is on its way out. Here’s why.
One-line paragraphs indicate I’m reading a marketing email
Who else writes this way? No one, that’s who. The only time I read an entire page of one-line copy is when I’m scanning a Facebook ad, sales email, or landing page. Website homepages aren’t broken into 30 lines of sentence fragments. My friends don’t tell me about weekend plans through 15 staccato texts.
Like most humans, I don’t like to feel like I’m being sold to. When I see one-line copy, I immediately know there’s a marketer behind what I’m reading. And marketers sell things. It’s not hard for me to put two and two together.
One-line paragraphs disrupt reading rhythm
As a creative writer, I think about how authors can manipulate printed text to evoke a specific emotion in the reader. Pacing, the literal time it takes a reader to move down the page, is key to creating these reader reactions. You want reading speed to match whatever’s happening in the scene. But it must feel natural.
Of course, you want your ad copy to feel punchy and high energy. But there’s a fine line between natural and unnatural energy. One-line paragraphs often come across as spastic and unhinged.
One-line paragraphs are the espresso shots of copywriting. A few are fine, but it’s only a matter of time until you crash.
Let your reader breathe.
One-line paragraphs aren’t memorable
Do you know the saying, “If everyone is special, then no one is?” This applies to paragraphs, too.
Paragraphs have a reason for existing. They help us group relevant information into digestible sections. A paragraph’s indentation or line break signals a new idea is coming. But when I read copy without paragraphs, I don’t know how any of the larger ideas relate. Which part is more important? Where is the central “meat” of the advertisement?
Think about it this way. How much information do you absorb while falling down a waterfall in a kayak? None. Zero information absorbed. The world becomes a blur. Nothing stands out. It’s exciting for sure, but you’re not going pay attention to the beautiful scenery.
Appreciation of nature, a person, or ad copy requires us to slow down and observe.
What’s your favorite life memory? Whatever it is, it probably comes from a special time. And what makes a time special other than the fact that it’s different from your regular, humdrum routines?
In Conclusion: One-Line Paragraphs are on The Way Out
I understand that copywriting choices should be based on data. I can hear the one-line copywriters now. They’re saying, “We A/B tested our emails and this strategy drives the most conversions!”
If the numbers are there, keep doing what you’re doing.
But let’s look at recent trends in social media advertising. In 2019, some studies found Facebook Ad costs rose almost 90%. As more and more companies flood the market with ads, ads become less effective. Quality scores go down. Click rates go down. This means that in order to maintain sales revenue, you have to spend more on impressions to make up for the lower clicks.
The same goes for copywriting. As more and more advertisers adopt a gimmick, the gimmick becomes less and less effective.
I’ll admit, I clicked on the first high-energy, one-line advertisements I saw back in 2018. I spent money on webinars and PDFs. Two years later, I’m burned out. I can’t remember the last time I paid attention to a sales email. In fact, I’ve lost a lot of goodwill toward companies that spam my Facebook newsfeed with the same high-intensity, one-line ads day after day.
I predict my experience with one-line paragraphs will become the norm. As someone the algorithm has pegged as “interested in marketing,” I’ve received the early brunt of the assault. But as more and more marketers adopt the one-line style, conversion rates will plummet.
Customers are smart, and they’ll notice these not-so-subtle tactics.
My advice – get ahead of the curve by spicing up your copy with paragraph variation. Provide value. Sound like a human. It’s what the best copywriters have always done.
Let’s bring humanness back to the marketing world. Head over to www.bestandnichemarketing.com for more insights and tips.