Your compelling, carefully-crafted content deserves all the attention it can get, right?
But how do you get that attention when there is a staggering amount other stuff competing for the same eyeballs? (Check out these stats for to see what you’re up against.)
The answer is to make sure everything you produce is energetic, exciting and useful enough to cut through the clutter, make readers take notice and compel them to act. Of course, you also want them to want to return.
Here are five tips to help you do that:
1. Write a compelling headline
Impact starts with your headline – or, for email marketers, your subject line.
“Your headlines shouldn’t be an afterthought,” writes Larry Kim on Medium. “Content that has a catchy headline is more likely to be clicked on and read. A boring headline pretty much guarantees nobody will read that piece of content you spent so much time writing.”
Kim makes the case for emotional words and phrases in headlines. “Emotions make people click and engage,” he writes, and he uses data to make the case for specific phrases, including “make you cry,” “melt your heart,” “give you goosebumps,” and “can’t stop laughing.”
To learn how to craft subject lines that get noticed, check out this post from our blog.
2. Use sentence length to vary the rhythm of your writing
“Short and broken sentences add energy to your writing,” writes Henneke at Enchanting Marketing, who compares writing to composing music. “To change the mood in a musical piece, a legato playing style can be interrupted by a few notes of staccato. The same is true in writing. When you only write long sentences, you slowly lull your reader to sleep. By interrupting a calming flow with a few ultra-short sentences, you attract attention to your point. You wake your reader up.”
Reading your piece aloud can give you a feel for the rhythm you are creating, Henneke suggests. “When you find yourself gasping for air, your sentences and paragraphs are probably too long. Hack sentences in two. Add more periods. Or more commas.”
For more about how thinking like a musician can boost your email marketing, check out our post on the topic.
3. Use the active voice
Phil Jamieson, on Business 2 Community, provides a vivid example of how dangerous use of the passive voice can be:
“‘You are loved.’ Writing that in a valentine to your beloved instead of ‘I love you’ likely will have a similar effect as giving a bouquet of roses with petals that are curling and turning brown — the thought may be there, but the desired effect loses some of its impact,” he advises. “That’s what can happen with passive voice.”
In addition to being a romance destroyer, the passive voice is an energy killer. That’s because using it makes it unclear who is performing the action (or feeling the emotion) being discussed.
The passive voice does have a place in writing, though. “Sometimes you want or need the subject to be ambiguous or want to emphasize the object, in which case passive constructions make sense,” says Jamieson. “But too often, writers use passive voice unconsciously, leading to awkward, vague or bloated sentences that make the meaning harder to understand.”
4. Envision your reader as being extremely impatient
“It’s easy to think your readers are browsing for fun and enjoyment,” writes Hassan Ud-deen at Problogger. “That they’ll read every word of your post; but that’s just not true.”
Ud-deen suggests instead that you picture a reader “who is juggling a screaming baby on his lap, has dozens of tasks to finish, and is ready to click on that big red ‘X’ button the second your post doesn’t provide the solution to his problems. This simple mindset shift will help you create more reader-friendly content from the get go. You’ll be sure to keep his pains and problems in mind, which means you’re less likely to have fluffy, bloated writing that bores his ear off.”
5. Provide answers
According to Zach Bulygo and Sean Work, writing on the Kissmetrics blog, people consume content for the same reason they read non-fiction or query search engines – to find answers to their questions.
“Read any title and subtitle of a non-fiction book or article. Ultimately, what it leaves the reader with is a question or a sense of curiosity,” they write. “It is then the author’s job to deliver answers and have supporting information.”
They advise content creators to write with their visitors’ questions, and answers, in mind.
“When people are reading a blog post, viewing an infographic or watching a video, they want an answer so they can gain knowledge. Make your content easy to scan so people can pick up the juicy, important bits quickly.”