Every day, the content landscape becomes more complex and competitive. As a result, it is more important than ever for content marketers to do everything possible to capture their audience’s attention.
Writing effective, attention-grabbing content requires understanding how to truly engage the reader. Getting that reader to respond to your content clearly shows that you’ve met your goal. By following the six tips below, you can improve your ability to connect with customers and persuade them to act right away.
Why is driving an immediate response so important?
It’s no secret that engaging your audience is essential for content marketing success. However, not all engagement is created equal, and your goal should be to elicit a meaningful, timely response – whether that’s by subscribing to your email list, purchasing a product, or sharing your content with friends.
What is the significance of prompt action? Here are a few key reasons:
- It allows you to reach a larger audience with your content. When your audience engages with your content, for example, by sharing it with their friends, it raises the visibility of your brand and helps get your content in front of more consumers. The speed with which you can get your audience to share or react to your content on many content platforms, including search and social media, has a direct impact on your potential reach.
- It assists you in developing stronger audience relationships. When someone responds to your content, they aren’t just consuming it; they are interacting with it. It establishes a connection with your brand that you can measure and reinforce by sharing additional content that may be of interest to them. This can result in more consistent engagement and help your brand establish itself as a trusted voice in your industry.
- It assists you in achieving your content and business objectives. Whether you want to increase sales, generate leads, or build brand awareness, getting an immediate response from your audience is critical. For example, your article may compel a prospect to comment, putting them on your sales team’s radar as a potential lead. Alternatively, your thought leadership piece may be shared in a new online community, increasing brand awareness in that target vertical.
It’s difficult enough to capture a reader’s attention once, let alone twice, so don’t squander the opportunity. Use copy that encourages readers to act quickly to capitalize on that moment of attention.
What is required to write that copy? These six suggestions will help you get started.
01. Create an enticing headline.
Your headline is your first – and sometimes only – chance to catch a reader’s attention. A compelling headline can mean the difference between someone reading your article and quickly moving on to something else.
A great headline consists of a few key elements:
- It should be eye-catching. A headline that does not immediately pique the reader’s interest is likely to be overlooked in favor of something more intriguing. Consider why you created the content and why your target audience should be interested. Are you questioning the status quo? Giving useful advice? Telling a story about a well-known brand? Include these details to make your headline stand out.
- It should be relevant. If your headline does not accurately reflect what is in the article, you risk losing the reader’s trust once they realize they have been misled. Remember, you’re not just looking for clicks. You also want to compel your readers to act, which they are less likely to do if they believe you have purposefully misled them.
- It should be clear. A headline that is unclear or difficult to understand will most likely be ignored in favor of something more digestible. You want to be specific and concise, with no unnecessary filler words. If your content contains steps or a list, include a specific number in the title to add clarity. Another way to add clarity is to use brackets that indicate more about what the reader can expect, such as [infographic] or [interview].
- It should be of appropriate length. A headline that is too long or too short is less effective than one that is just right. It’s best to keep your headline to around 80 characters, with a maximum of 100.
02. Make it simple to read.
If you want to elicit an immediate response from your reader, make your content easy to read. There are several options for doing so:
- Use short sentences and paragraphs. Shorter paragraphs are easier to parse, especially if each paragraph contains only one idea. Another factor is that people are increasingly consuming content on mobile browsers with small screens. What appears to be a short paragraph on desktop may appear to be a long paragraph on mobile, so keep your paragraphs to no more than five lines and no more than 100 words.
- When possible, use bullet points or numbers. If you want to convey a series of related ideas, use a bulleted or numbered list. List formatting makes it easier for the reader to identify key takeaways.
- Use simple language and words. When you write in clear and simple language, you make it easier for your reader to find and understand the information they require. Furthermore, writing in plain language makes your content more accessible to less fluent readers.
- Emphasize important information. Use formatting elements such as pull quotes or bold text to highlight the most important information for the reader, such as your key brand messages or the specific actions you recommend.
03. Include some visual interest.
Consider using images, infographics, and video to add visual interest to capture even more attention. These visual elements help to break up the text while also reinforcing the message you’re attempting to convey. This method also aids in engaging visual learners with written content.
Use the following tips to add visual interest in a way that prompts an immediate response:
- Select images that are both relevant and relatable. A well-chosen image can illustrate a point or create an emotional connection that goes beyond what text alone can achieve. Images are commonly used to show examples of the subject being discussed, such as including images of actual newsletters in an article about newsletter best practices.
- Make your infographics clear and simple to understand. An infographic can be extremely useful in assisting your audience in digesting any data discussed in your content. Use simple charts and graphs, and then provide supporting text to explain how the reader should interpret the data.
- Keep your videos short and to the point. Aim for videos that are less than 30 seconds long to maximize engagement. If necessary, you can also cut longer videos into smaller snippets. Also, caption your videos so that they are accessible to everyone, including viewers who may not want to listen to audio at the time. Don’t forget to include your CTA at the end of the video.
04. Use active voice.
Writing in the active voice makes your content more engaging and understandable. It also makes your brand sound more authoritative, which helps you gain your audience’s attention and trust.
To compel your reader to act, make it clear what action you want them to take. Because active voice emphasizes the action a subject takes, it is better suited to content marketing than passive voice, which emphasizes the subject’s actions’ recipient.
Many of advertising’s most well-known slogans, such as Nike’s “Just do it,” Apple’s “Think different,” and Burger King’s “Have it your way,” all encourage customers to act. When Nike says, “Just do it,” it puts the decision to act in the hands of the customer.
When writing headlines, active voice is especially important. Indeed, if you look at blog posts from companies such as HubSpot and Buffer you’ll notice that nearly every headline is written in the active voice.
However, there are times when passive voice can be used effectively. For example, the passive voice is used in this article, 4 Metrics Not to Miss in Your Next Content Audit, to emphasize the metrics rather than the potential act of missing the metrics.
05. Write to a specific person
Content should be more conversational than broadcast. When you write to a specific person, you establish a personal connection that increases the likelihood that readers will listen and respond.
Consider this: if you were at a party and someone began yelling at everyone in the room, would you stop to talk to them? Almost certainly not. However, if that same person approached you and began chatting, you would be more willing to engage in conversation with them.
Here are some pointers for writing to someone specific:
- Think of a real person. Keep a customer persona or a specific member of your community or audience in mind while researching and writing. Would Jordan, a content strategist at a B2B SaaS enterprise, find this appealing? What about Jesse, a user experience writer at a mid-tier consumer technology firm? Make sure to choose or create a persona based on your objectives for the piece.
- Use personal pronouns. Using personal pronouns (e.g., “I,” “you,” “me,” “we,” and “us”) improves the readability of your writing. The second-person pronoun “you,” in particular, makes your writing appear to be a conversation between the writer and the reader.
- Make it specific. The more specific you are, the better your reader will be able to connect with you. When making a point, use specific examples to help your reader understand how the concept works in theory and in practice.
06. Create a sense of urgency.
Driving your reader to action is only half the battle; you also need the reader to act now. Otherwise, they may become distracted and forget to return to finish the action.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to instill a sense of urgency. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Emphasize the consequences of inaction. For example, you could write about how failure to act can result in missed opportunities or negative consequences.
- Use language to imply the action’s time-sensitivity. You could, for example, say things like “don’t wait to improve your ROI” or “the end of the quarter is quickly approaching.”
- Make a limited-time offer. This could be a discount, a freebie, or access to a limited-time event coming up soon.
Write with the intention of engaging the reader.
You must know how to write to engage your audience in order to create great content marketing that works. You can improve your writing and compel your readers to respond when it matters most by following the six tips outlined above.
So, what are you holding out for? Put these suggestions into action and see how they can help you get better results from your content marketing efforts.