2693 words | 14 minute read
How can you grab and keep your readers’ attention using writing techniques that actually make you sound more interesting? With all the noise on the internet these days, people’s attention spans are getting shorter. Your copy must be effective enough to catch a reader’s eye, make them like and trust you more, AND convert them with the value you add to their lives. Is there a simple formula you can use to engage and keep your readers coming back for more?
Table of Contents
- Writing That Will Hook Your Reader
- 1. Keep It Short and Simple
- 2. Keep It Personal
- 3. Be Specific
- 4. Writing Powerful Words
- 5. Online Writing Techniques That Sell
- 6. Writing Headlines and Hooks
- 7. The Power of The CTA
Social media is taking up more and more of our day. According to a survey from GlobalWebIndex, “Internet users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking and messaging platforms. Trended data is also suggesting that there may be saturation in social media consumption.”Internet users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking. - GlobalWebIndex Click To Tweet
If there is so much content out there for readers to consume, what can you do to stand out from the competition? How can you draw in your readers and keep them reading?
Writing That Will Hook Your Reader
Content marketing, (creating and sharing online material such as blogs, videos, and social media posts) is one way to generate interest in a brand’s products or services without explicitly marketing to readers. Content marketers have found advantages to publishing a lot of content customized to your ideal buyer:
- 60% of marketers produce a piece of content everyday.
- Inbound marketing produces 3x more leads and is 62% less expensive than outbound marketing.
- Brands that use content marketing experience 6x higher conversion rates.
These statistics suggest that content marketing is how you can generate interest in your online writing. Now let’s say you’re a freelance writer or copywriter and you want your readers to become hooked on what you have to say on your website or blog. What are some quick writing tricks you can use to keep them reading?
Here are seven lazy but effective writing techniques that will keep your audience reading and expand your skills as a master copwriter.
1. Keep It Short And Simple
The first of these writing techniques is to seduce your reader with simple language and short sentences. People are often too busy or too lazy to read complex paragraphs. Remember the last time you had a bit of time to read an article and you saw those never-ending sentences? Did you read the article? Probably not.
Use Short Sentences
Short sentences, even ONE WORD sentences, are easier to read and understand. If your sentence is too long, chop it in two. Broken sentences, which are common in sales copy, are reader friendly.
Here is an example of creating rhythm using short sentences in sales copy for the Apple iPhone:
All-new Lightning connector. Smaller. Smarter. Durable. Reversible.
Apple also makes use of sound bites – proverbs – that share nuggets of wisdom in sticky groups of three. Groups of three are sticky because they stick in a reader’s mind.
Everything you need. Everywhere you go.
The more clear, concise and simple you are, the more likely your reader will remain hooked on your piece of copy. If you confuse or overwhelm a reader, they’ll tune out with the swipe of a key. Or if you say too much or complicate it too much, they’ll leave your page.
The technique is the same if you want your reader to convert. In sales copy, it’s not about using big words to show how smart you are. It’s about keeping everything short and simple. The easier and quicker it is for them to read and understand what you’re selling, the easier it’ll be for them to make a decision to buy. If there’s too much to read, or it starts getting complicated, the reader will not buy.
2. Keep It Personal
Write Like You’re Friends
Another writing technique that copywriters use is to write to your audience like you’re their friend. Talk to them on a personal level, while keeping what you’re saying interesting. When your potential client is sorting through his or her letters and e-mails, they have an A pile and a B pile. Your goal is to be in their A pile, because the B pile goes in their trash can.Write to your audience like you're their friend. Click To Tweet
Your very first goal is not to sell. It’s to make sure your name is in their A pile. So, write using words that sound like you’re a friend, and relate to them on a personal level. Here’s an example of writing for business using a conversational tone:
Save time with our new app. Schedule all your social media updates in one go.
Address the Problems on The Reader’s Mind
Continue to keep it personal by diving into the conversation that is already happening in the reader’s mind. You will build a stronger connection with them if you show that you understand what problems they are having.
Your reader might have found your article because they were thinking: I love blogging, but I wish I could reach more people. I’m spending lots of time creating my content but can’t seem to build my audience fast enough.
They are hoping you have the answer to their problem, but they aren’t expecting to take your blogging course… so don’t tell them about your blogging course until you’ve written about how you understand their frustrations and even listed some of their key problems.
3. Be Specific
Make any general statements as specific as possible. For example, instead of saying “I made the client over $10,000 last month”, you should say, “I made them $10,569.03 last month.” The more specific statement carries more credibility and is more believable.
A Compelling Tale
Details are also useful for telling a compelling tale. For example, this description about pecans in a fruit cake increased product sales by 60%: From majestic pecan trees native only to a handful of Texas rivers and streams, soaring up to 150 feet in height and canopy, planted by mother nature as long ago as the Civil War.
Imagine what products or services you could sell if you could tell a compelling story using the right amount of specifics. Even if you just want your reader to finish your blog post, you are still selling them. You’re selling them to stay focused on your article.
Features and Benefits
To keep your audience hooked, you really need to understand what you are selling: it might be a product, a service, or an idea. You need to ask yourself questions such as: What’s special about it? What benefit(s) does it provide? How about features? What pain(s) does it alleviate? Your answers to these questions will help you write your story.
Legendary copywriter David Olgilvy took three weeks to come up with this concept for a Rolls-Royce ad: At 60 miles per hour the loudest noise in this Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.
The selling feature was one small, tiny detail.
4. Writing With Powerful Words
One of the most powerful writing techniques you can use is the ability to immerse your reader so they can see, smell, hear, and/or taste what you are describing. Could you ever become bored reading about an experience you can jump right into? Not likely. So ask your reader to IMAGINE what you are writing about.
For example, this description of the iPhone puts the reader “YOU” in the centre of the action and uses descriptive, vivid words: Imagine sidesplitting, adventure-filled, must-see flicks produced by you and shot on iPhone 5.
Using the active voice makes your writing stronger and more effective. It engages the reader more, and keeps boredom away.
In sales, you need to know the difference between active writing versus passive writing. An example of passive writing is, “When this link is clicked, an e-mail will be sent to your inbox.” Doesn’t that sound boring? It doesn’t compel you to action at all. Active writing is much better, and sounds like this: “When you click this link, you will be sent an e-mail.”
Metaphors can increase the value of a product or service, and it can make it more personal. For example, Tropicana’s orange juice metaphor “Your Daily Ray of Sunshine” alludes to natural products, sunshine, and health. It’s also YOUR ray of sunshine. The message is also very clear and concise.
The reverse of these precise metaphors is the use of weak promises. Remember how annoying it can be when politicians refuse to make any commitments or promises on issues? Would you trust someone who makes inconclusive comments? If you write in this way, you lose your authority. For example, the words, “Rent from as little as…” implies that the reader is going to be spending more. Would you like to be told that you could be spending more on rent than you expected?
No. Back away from loose promises and use compelling words and metaphors instead.
5. Online Writing Techniques That Sell
This next writing technique focuses on small tweaks you can make to your writing to help it sell better. These writing techniques also make your writing more interesting. First, you want to appeal to emotions. We associate certain words with very specific meanings.
Consider how these expressions appeal to you emotionally:
- “You are the apple of my eye.” versus “You are the banana of my eye.”
- “He went bananas.” versus “He went apples.”
- Steve Jobs and Apple versus Steve Jobs and Banana
Another technique is appealing to exclusivity. By limiting access to something, you also increase people’s desire for it. You can employ this strategy as a marketing tactic, the same way Google did: “Google made its new social network, Google+, available to users by invitation only. That’s contributed greatly to the buzz surrounding the social networking platform.”
A third technique that will make your writing more interesting is your ability to handle objections. Persuasive writing, or being able to persuade your reader, is about listing all the reasons your reader could be holding back from trusting you, investing in you, or believing what you say.
For example, someone reading about the new iPhone might wonder if the lens will scratch easily. This may be the reason why they won’t buy the phone. How could you handle this objection? For example, you could use facts: Although the surface of the iSight camera is as clear as glass, it’s not made of glass. It’s actually sapphire crystal, whose hardness is second only to diamond on the scale of transparent materials. That means the surface of the lens is far less likely to scratch.
If you can involve your reader emotionally, and if you can persuade your reader, then you will increase their interest in your writing.
6. Writing Headlines and Hooks
Stories fascinate readers, and two writing techniques that will pull your reader into your story much faster are effective headlines and captivating hooks.
Your headline is the first thing – even before an image or picture – that the reader will look at. So you want to choose your words carefully. Ask yourself: What is your main idea? What is the main benefit of your product / your service/ reading your article?
If you’re writing a blog headline, offer something that the reader will find useful or valuable. Also, include specific details. Adding urgency also helps. For example, this headline for a useful article about a particular pain: “Erase Your Worse Pain… For Hours and Hours. Guaranteed.” No deadline is mentioned, but wouldn’t you want to know the solution to your worse pain now?
Also, when writing your headline, don’t reinvent the wheel. Why do more work when you could easily follow a proven formula?
Most popular post headlines seem to follow one of three patterns:
[NUMBER] of [SOMETHING] about [SOMETHING]:
- Five Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb
- 21 Ways to Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have a Clue
What [SOMETHING] can teach you about [SOMETHING]:
- The Mad Men Guide to Changing the World With Words
- Aristotle’s Ancient Guide to Compelling Copy
- The Grateful Dead 4-Step Guide to the Magical Influence of Content Marketing
- 5 Things Depeche Mode Can Teach You About Effective Online Marketing
Follow these quick tips on headline patterns and useful topics, and you will engage your audience quickly.
For the lazy writer, creating a captivating hook is easy. It’s the most important part of your post, but it’s short and follows a straightforward formula. Describe the symptoms of the problem that you’re going to solve in your blog post or article.
For example, open with a question or a short sentence: “Sometimes you’re just out of ideas.” A short beginning is a path of little resistance, so the reader is drawn in easily. They are curious, so they continue reading, “It’s not a matter of talent — you’ve written some awesome stuff in the past. But now, you go back to the well for a fresh idea, and it’s coming up dry.” The reader must continue reading to find out the solution to how to create a fresh idea and compelling content.
7. The Power of The CTA
Of all the writing techniques, this one is a money maker. Wouldn’t you want your reader to keep reading more of your articles, follow your work, download a PDF, or make a purchase? High income copywriters write copy for website landing pages or lead magnets to get readers to invest in a product or service. You want your readers to invest in something with you.
After reading a web page or blog, there is one clear call to action, or CTA, to tell the reader what action they should take. A CTA can be to subscribe to an email list, download a free PDF, or make a purchase. In direct response copywriting, the sales copy has one goal: to have a clear call to action that leads to a sale. You want to have a clear end goal as well.
The CTA should stand out from the rest of the page and give a specific direction. For example
- Order online.
- Call now.
- Visit a [name of company] store.
- Start your free trial.
- Learn more.
You want an action that is simple and creative. “Click now” is over used.
Not everyone will pull the trigger for the CTA. Not everyone is interested in your offer because they weren’t prepared to opt into something or to buy something when they started reading your blog post or sales page. But if your reader got as far as your CTA, then you’ve kept them motivated and engaged long enough to reach your offer.
Are there writing techniques that you can apply to make your writing to sound more interesting? People have shorter and shorter attention spans as they read through mountains of emails, social media posts, and online articles.
To capture and keep their attention, you want to write your posts like sales copy. Use short sentences but keep your voice personal and conversational. Be specific about your writing topic. What is your idea? If you are selling a product or service, provide specific information.
Use powerful, concise words to keep your writing as compelling as possible. Appeal to your reader’s sense of emotion and urgency. Whether you are writing a blog post or a sales page, tell a story, and draw the reader in with an effective headline and captivating hook. At the end of your piece of writing, include a clear call to action. What do you want the reader to do?
These writing tips follow a formula and can quickly be applied to your writing to make it more interesting to your readers. Whether you are a freelance writer or you work for an employer, you can learn more about copywriting as a high income skill. Click on the link below to find out more about effective writing tips and tricks to keep your reader engaged.