Do you wonder why some blogs receive amazing responses, while some articles do not even get a single solitary comment? If you feel so bad, why don’t you post a comment for the latter? Someone has to comment first and it could be you. Oh… what’s that? You did not read through till the end? The content did not grab your attention in the first few seconds?
Ah….. the moment of truth dawns.
You have to grab your prospect’s attention for best results.
You have now discovered the golden rule of online content writing. (With a little help from me, I’d like to think).
Why Online Content
Online content is a great way of promoting your products and services. There are many avenues through which you can reach your target customer online. It could be your website or your blog. Or it could be articles. All online content is aimed at converting a prospect into a customer and a customer into a loyal customer.
While Creating Online Content I am sure you
- spend time and effort on getting just the right words.
- make sure that is suitably keyword optimized.
- undertake painstaking research to present correct facts
- call on all your expertise and experience to present a comprehensive view
- do so much more…
Yet you find a surprising and inexplicable lack of response to your blog post. You find that the bounce rate on your website is high. And conversion rates abysmally low.
The missing link is not the content of your content, but rather the style in which it is presented.
Unless your writing style and manner of presentation pulls in the prospect within the first few seconds, all hard work in creating the content is futile. The online searcher today is spoilt for choice. Unless he reads something that hits him between the eyes like a wet sock, he is likely to look elsewhere.
So roll your sleeves up and get ready to do just that. I will share with you the top 10 techniques to grab your prospect’s attention. Of course I am assuming that your content is factually accurate, original etc etc.. Otherwise, it won’t work. But you know that already. So here it comes.
Top 10 Ways to Grab Your Prospect’s Attention
- Use an Attention Grabbing Headline
This is lesson one in any copywriting course, but worth reiterating because of its importance. The headline should pull the prospect in either by offering him a benefit or promising to address his problem. Remember prospects (online readers) do not want to know about you. They only want to know about you in the context of how you can help them.
The orange color is an attention grabber by itself. The headline is the company name that is immediately followed by the assurance of ‘no surprise’. People dread surprises in their mortgage plans. Each bullet offers yet another benefit to the reader.
The ‘How to’ headline works like a charm because it takes a direct approach with the reader. For instance “How to get rid of back pain”. A reader suffering from back pain now knows your content will give tips to tackle back pain and will read through.
The question headline or the numbered headline works similarly. For instance:
Do you want to get rid of Back Pain? or Are you suffering from Back Pain?
Eight Ways to get rid of Back Pain
Another way to grab a prospect’s attention is the use of the word ‘secret’. Everyone wants to be let in on a secret. It is human nature. You could say
The Secret to Staying Free From Back Pain
Humor in headlines also works. But make sure you do it the right way. This is a great example.
- Follow up with a strong first sentence
All good work done by the headline is lost if your first sentence is weak. (refer example above).
This is a good place to emotionally connect with the reader. You could say “back pain can impede your quality of life” or “debilitating back pain can take the joy out of life”. This shows the reader you understand what he is going through and will prompt him to read further.
At this point, resist the temptation to go technical. Don’t say “Back pain is caused due to the inflammation of sciatic nerves”. This is an important point and establishes you as an expert. But the first sentence of the article is not the right place for it.
- Keep it Short and Sweet
No one wants to read long articles, particularly online searchers, who are in a hurry and who have unlimited choice. Most people quickly scan through the content and if they find it is too long, they just leave.
If you are covering a complex subject, break it up into individual topics. Write about each topic separately and use links appropriately. In the back pain blog, you could have separate topics for say ‘back pain exercises,’ ‘medicines for back pain’ etc.
- The importance of Sub Headings
Sub headings let you break up text into easy to digest chunks. They help your reader quickly locate what he is looking for. Your prospect won’t stay long if he has to look hard for information.
- Use Short Paragraphs
Break up the text into paragraphs under each sub heading. Keep the paragraphs short. Have multiple paragraphs rather than one that goes on and on. 2-4 sentences in a paragraph are ideal. Make sure that every paragraph has only one idea. This helps pinpoint the attention of the reader. (Refer to point 1 of this article). And click here for a witty illustration of this point.
Having shorter paragraphs creates loads of white space in the text. So the reader is not overwhelmed by text. ‘Long’ paragraphs are often perceived as ‘complicated’ paragraphs, prompting readers to give the whole article a miss. Don’t take that chance.
- Use Bullets
Bullets are an ideal way to get rid of superfluous words from the copy. They help the reader grasp your message faster. And they will appreciate this.
- The Writing Style
- Address the reader directly.
Your content should talk to each reader. Don’t say “People try various techniques to relieve back pain”. Instead say “You may have tried various techniques to relieve back pain”.
- Use Active Voice
The active voice keeps sentences (and thus the text) short and conveys the idea clearly.
Back pain is often relieved by Yoga. (passive voice)
Yoga relieves back pain. (active voice)
- Begin with Strong Verbs to Get Actions
Powerful verbs at the start of the sentence push the prospect to take an action. For instance
If you want the free ebook on back pain management, click here (Long sentence)
Click here for free ebook on back pain management (The verb ‘click’ at the start tells the reader what to do).
- More is not Merrier
Limit the total number of words in your text. Shorten and strengthen sentences. While writing a novel, use dramatic phrases by all means. But your web reader has no time to read through them. Refer to this helpful list of 200 superfluous phrases and their replacement.
- Don’t Forget Images
Images speak louder than words for sure. Use clever (and witty) images in the title or right next to it to grab your prospect’s attention. Of course make sure that the image is relevant to the content.
This is an apt image for the blog post on picking domain names
In some cases, images form an integral part of the content. If you are writing about how to tie a bow tie, this image will help.
Or in the back pain blog, when you discuss exercises for back pain, have images showing how to do them. Otherwise, the reader has to spend time mentally picturing the steps. And we all know what happens when things are not easy for the reader.
Let us consider two examples for websites promoting flat stomach exercises
At the above website, there are no images for explanation.
- A little Common Sense
This refers mainly to the design element of your blog or website. Do not use colors and fonts that hurt the eyes, prompting visitors to turn away. Contrast works well, as does keeping the sub headings in a different color. (Please note, the blue color of sub headings in this article)
Note the use of contrast colors in the headline (dark blue background and white font). The author also uses bullets to grab the attention. The use of other colors intelligently draws attention to the various sub-sections.
Did you like the techniques I mentioned in this article? Do you have other attention grabbing techniques? I would love to hear about them in the comments. And do let me know if you use any of these techniques regularly.