On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your title, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire article.
The reality though is that the headline is just the start!… you want your visitor to stay and read the whole article rather than bounce out to another website in an era of ‘click and go’.
We live in the era of ever decreasing attention and the art of keeping the reader engaged has now become an ongoing creative and scientific experiment of verbal and visual seduction.
The Age of Skimming
So writing that awesome headline has made the reader turn up but then you have to continue to entice, tease and intrigue the reader with the promise of more information, possible entertainment or a solution to the problem so that they will read on.
Skimming the article is the norm and with so much information competing for everyone’s attention, honing those writing skills is required to ensure that the information your post promised in the headline is transparently and readily available as your readers eyes scan the page.
People are Seeking Answers
Readers are seeking solutions and answers to their problems. They are asking questions.
- Will this video embedded in the article deliver the information I crave?
- Will the embedded slideshare presentation provide content that will help me with my next corporate boardroom meeting that will impress my customer and my boss?
- Will the rest of the article enlighten me or bore me?
The headline is important whether it is a Facebook news update and especially if it is on Twitter. Twitter has made the art of the headline more important than ever before because you only have 140 characters to tempt the potential reader to take action and click on the link that is embedded in your Tweet.
The Headline is the Start of the Seduction
What you need to realize is that the headline is the start of the seduction and your reader needs to be continually visually arrested to keep them on your page.
Here are a variety of tips and tactics to continue to lure the reader deeper into your article beyond the headline so that they will not just click away to somewhere else
The introduction is maybe the next most important element after the headline. This is an art rather than a science but there are some good tactics to ensure that you don’t lose them in the first sentence or paragraph. Mastering the art of copywriting can be arduous and the master copywriter Eugene Schartwz often spent days crafting the first 50 words of the sales copy and as a blogger you are in the business of selling your article one post at a time.
When writing the introduction these are some ideas to keep in mind.
1. Pose a Question
Challenging the reader to think engages their mind and makes them want to find out the answer.
2. Open with a Quote
This may inspire the reader to continue to read in the hope of finding out what lies beyond the next paragraph
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Mohandas K . Gandhi
3. Provide a Personal and Powerful Story
The story teller has captivated people since fire was created and a personal or powerful story can be the honey to keep the reader and listener engaged whether that be around the campfire or within an article.
4. Quote an Enticing Fact or Statistic
If you are writing about Facebook it could be the fact that ”One in every eight minutes spent on the internet is on Facebook” to draw the reader in.
5. Create Context
Lead into the main part of the article by creating the context for the rest of the story. Provide some background to the argument or solution you are about to put forward. It could be the condensed history of the topic or the facts and figures or the stating of the problem that needs solving.
6. Create a Mental Image
It could be a sentence opening with phrases such as ’imagine this‘ or ‘do you remember when‘.
7. Analogies and Other Tricks
It could be a phrase such as “A writer without a blog is like a salesman without a telephone” that tempts and captures the readers attention.
Include Key Words
This is one thing you should not ignore. What are the key words people will be looking for when they turn up. You also need to remember you are writing for two readers your audience and for the 1 million Google computer servers that are crawling and indexing your words, headlines and keywords. The challenge is to still write naturally but you need to be mindful of ‘Lord Google’.
Subtitles are your mini headlines that entice your reader to continue reading, they are teasers that may offer questions that promise more intriguing and inspiring content to follow.
Images with screen shots with arrows and circles showing key points can be worth a thousand words and make learning clear and easy to follow through on. Make the solution a ‘no-brainer’.
Consider A Video
Sometimes a short 2 minute video can offer the reader a quick way to explain a concept or idea or solution that 500 words cannot convey. This could be embedded half way through the story. Remember you are writing for the web and rich interactive media is expected and demanded.
This is quite often overlooked and in a digital interconnected age the article that has hyperlinks promises a depth and a breadth of information that makes the reader want to explore. Links or additional resources at the end of an article that list valuable posts from your blog that are relevant are also valuable and encourage the reader to read more of your valuable blog content. I also recommend setting up the the links so they open up in a new browser window ensuring that the original page is still open and visible and waiting on their return.
Format For Scanning and Skimming
There is nothing more confronting than a wall of text that says to the reader..”If you want the information… good luck in finding it, because it may be buried here somewhere!”
So break it up into chunk sizes that is easy to digest and doesn’t create visual constipation.
This can be done in a variety of ways through
- Call out box or block quote
- Short paragraphs
- Bullet points
- A short numbered list
Don’t Forget the Call to Act
This might be a phrase such as
“What is one thing that you can do do today that you have learnt from this post?”
Closing is important and the main thing to remember is to close the loop by tying it back to the beginning. It could be a statement or a question.
So what was the key element that made you want to read this entire post?