By Lacy Williams

We all want to increase our reader engagement, right? More social media comments, more newsletter opens, more purchases. But did you know that offering more choices might actual result in less action from your readers?

A 1995 study cited in this NY Times article, states that “psychologists and economists [ . . . ] are concluding that an overload of options may actually paralyze people.”

This confirms what one of my publishing mentors has preached for years. I have unwittingly tested this theory in many email newsletters I’ve sent out. In one newsletter, I might’ve mentioned a new book release, a call for reader reviews for an older book, a contest or giveaway, and provided links to my website and social media channels. Which of these things was I most interested in getting my readers to click? Probably my new release (who really knows what I was thinking back then . . .). So why did I distract them with so much other information?

Because I subscribed to the “more is better” mentality. I wanted to provide as much value to my readers as possible.

But could I have provided more value to the reader by only presenting one piece of information they were interested in: my new release?

After learning about single-focus, I decided to try it. The first time I sent out a stripped-down, bare-bones newsletter, I almost deleted it and started all over. It looked so empty!

But do you know what? As I sent more short, to-the-point emails that gave readers only one choice, my reader engagement increased. I had a higher percentage of readers opening my emails, because they trusted that what was inside wouldn’t be overwhelming to them. I had a higher percentage of clicks (I believe this was because I was only offering one choice).

Now I’m a huge proponent of single-focus marketing. Any time I sit down to write a blog post, social media post, or newsletter, I sit down with one goal in mind. What do I most want the reader to do after they read this item? (This also works for back-of-the-book teasers—add an excerpt from just one book, rather than multiple books).

Why not give it a try for yourself?


USA Today bestselling author Lacy Williams works in a hostile environment (read: four young children). In spite of this, she has managed to be a hybrid author since 2011, publishing forty books and novellas. Lacy’s books have finaled in the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards (2012, 2013, & 2014), the Golden Quill and the Booksellers Best Award. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, ALLi and Novelists Inc. Find out more at www.lacywilliams.net. For more tips on marketing from Lacy, grab a copy of her book, the smart indie: copywriting or download a copywriting checklist here.

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