on hold marketing


On Hold Content & Word Counts…Size Matters!

On Hold content that keep callers from hanging up are written by studio writers…that is…writers that work in an audio studio and write content intended to be listened to.  An experienced studio writer knows the difference between writing content intended to be read….and writing content intended to be listened to. Sometimes this is referred to as “writing for the ear”.

We write our customer’s on hold content “for the ear” from notes sent to us by clients. Often, in an attempt to assist us, clients will send their thoughts in the form of how they believe the script should look. Sometimes they’ll construct each message with over 200 words.  Yes, it’s helpful, but here’s where a studio writer becomes important. An individual message of 200 words is too long for an on hold script.

Writing On Hold Content For Listening Is Different Than for Reading

First it’s important to understand how your On Hold content is heard. For the most part, your program plays continuously in the background, whether a caller is on hold or not (some phone systems do start from the beginning every time a caller is placed on hold, but for this discussion that distinction is not particularly important). So when you place a caller On Hold, they are going to hear your program wherever it is playing at that particular time. Could be between messages, could be in the middle of a message. And depending on the length of the hold time, they might hear one or two or three complete messages, or they might only hear part of one message. 

Individual On Hold Messages that are 200 words long will easily run over a minute and a half. This means there’s over a minute from the beginning of the message to the end of the message. Most businesses we work with try to keep their hold times as short as possible. Which means the average caller would likely never hear one of these On Hold Messages completely.

What Size Is the Right Size?

When we write On Hold Scripts, we aim for 65-85 words, or about 18-25 seconds. Our 30 years of experience has shown that this time frame makes for the most effective messages. It gives your On Hold Script the best chance of being heard in their entirety… the beginning, middle and end. When your callers ARE placed On Hold, and are hearing your On Hold Messages, you want them to get the complete story on each topic as often as possible. And you want to there to be a “call to action” wherever possible – usually “ask us to tell you more when we come on the line,” or “pick up a bag the next time you’re in the store.” But what you don’t want to have is On Hold Messages running close to two minutes long where your hold times are 30-45 seconds. 

Oh, one more thing…remember we’re happy to do the writing for you. Don’t feel as though you have to do it yourself. It’s part of what we do every day.

Want to leave the writing to an experience on hold writer? Call us at 800-342-0098/804-273-6900.

Brian Illes, VP/Operations

Brian Illes joined On Hold Marketing after a 20-year career as radio station program director and on-air personality in markets in the eastern United States. Not only skilled as a writer, producer, and voice talent for On Hold Marketing, Brian is a true wizard at overseeing our studio production and tending to Customer Service.

Brian also has wide-range knowledge of auto attendant, IVR, and prompt systems. He works closely with On Hold Marketing customers to make these systems easy to use and customer-friendly.

Publish Date: April 6, 2021