Written by SONIA SIMONE | July 8, 2008 |
If you can’t keep the reader’s attention, nothing else matters. And the online world demands your best techniques to hold reader interest because tempting distractions are always just a click away. All writers and marketers have their favorite tricks to glue reader attention to their content, so here are three of mine.
1. Pair your copy with an arresting image
Some images create a strong emotional reaction in your reader, which creates a much more receptive mindset for your persuasive copy.
My Copyblogger post on personal elements in blogging was accompanied by an image that created plenty of interest before readers ever got to the words.
My post on my own blog about how to be an authority and a nice guy used an image that created a very different feel (I hope), but it also primed the reader for a particular emotional connection to the post.
Strong images are strong because they inspire strong emotion. Whether that emotion is lust, tenderness, awe, sympathy, or just plain curiosity, a powerful image alters your reader’s consciousness for just a few moments. That split second of emotional transformation allows your message to sink in much more deeply.
2. Use questions to capture and keep reader attention
Smart copywriters use questions to get the reader’s train of thought moving in the right direction. Ask questions that uncover pain points or explore insecurity.
Ask questions that enlarge your readers’ dreams, questions that get them to paint a mental picture of the fantastic rewards your product can bring.
We, humans, are the most curious animal on the planet, and questions are irresistible to us. When we hear a question, we want to answer it. Keep your readers’ interest up by setting their curious minds in motion with questions about how they can solve their problems with your solutions.
3. Get nitty gritty
Abstraction is boring. Ever read a psychology textbook in college? The theoretical discussions and clinical descriptions made for an excellent sleeping aid. But the case studies–real-life stories of crazy people and how being crazy affected their lives–woke you right up again.
Content with lots of specific details will hold reader attention much better than content that waffles on about general concepts. Vague, abstract generalities are hard to relate to. But when you get down to nitty-gritty specifics–exactly what goes into a technique, or the scary details about how you were almost homeless before you discovered this new business strategy–your reader wakes up again.
Use details and narrative to show the reader what really happened. Get nitty-gritty with your reader and she’ll reward you with her sustained attention. And that attention can be profitably turned into sales.
What are your favorite attention-holding techniques?
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