Today copywriter Glenn Murray from http://www.DivineWrite.com shares 7 tips on writing sticky blog posts.
People don’t want to read your post. Chances are, they’ve dedicated the first hour of their morning to staying in touch, and even that’s more than they really have time for. They checked out 4 or 5 posts before they stumbled across yours, and they know they face at least as many after. Not to mention emails, tweets and voicemails.
So they’re really just looking for an excuse to move on. Don’t give them that excuse.
It’s not enough that your posts are relevant and informative. In fact, even if your content is unique – or even groundbreaking – your posts still have to be sticky and memorable. Fortunately, it’s quite an easy thing to do. Let me explain…
It all comes down to 7 Signals in your Copywriting
There are 7 simple signals that you can include in your copywriting, that will get your visitors reading, keep them reading, and help them retain your message.
1. Signal that your post is relevant to your visitor
Make sure your headline is relevant. Don’t make it obscure in an attempt to be clever (or keyword-rich). An obscure headline is just one more obstacle to a busy reader. KISS is the best approach (Keep It Simple, Stupid!). Also, make sure you include an explicit statement, fairly early in the post, describing your subject matter and main point. (It’s not always possible to be this explicit in your headline.)
Examples from this post: My headline isn’t fancy. “7 Tips on How to Write Sticky, Memorable Blog Posts.” It’s straight to the point, but still engages because it promises something the reader wants. And my explicit early statement? “There are 7 simple signals that you can include in your copywriting… retain your message.” Once again, not fancy, but promising.
2. Signal that it’ll be easy to read
We all know that most people scan. Nothing new there. But it’s easy to overlook in the rush to post. Don’t. Always make sure you make it very clear to your visitors that your post is going to be easy to read. Make your first sentence succinct and friendly. Perhaps even raise an eyebrow or two. And consider using bulleted lists, numbered lists and sub-headers in your post body. Also, if your post is structured around a numbered list (as this one is), say so in the headline.
Examples from this post: My first sentence is only 7 words long, with just 1 multisyllabic word (and that word is just 2 syllables). It contains a contraction and addresses the reader directly (“your”), suggesting that the entire post will be fairly conversational and direct. The first sentence is also a little confronting, which may cause readers to ask, “Why don’t people want to read my post?” My entire post is delivered in bite-size chunks (tips), and this is promised in the headline. What’s more, I’ve used the magic number, 7, which is supposed to strike a chord with more readers (thanks to @schebesta for that tip!).
3. Signal that it’s got personality
People don’t want to read the same old conservative ho-hum they read everywhere else. They want to read something engaging. More to the point, they want to engage with the blogger who wrote it. That’s what blogging’s all about, after all. So make sure your post reflects your personality. Write how you talk. Allude to your own quirks. Show you don’t take yourself too seriously (maybe be self-deprecating, but not obsequious). In fact, unless you’re a writer, even your spelling and grammatical errors can reflect your personality. (But be careful here, as this can also undermine your professionalism.)
Examples from this post: I’ve used a conversational style (contractions, “you”, short sentences). I’ve even used an informal acronym (“KISS”), a colloquialism (“fancy”) and a bit of slang (“ho-hum”). I’ve thanked someone in an informal way (@schebesta). I’ve used metaphors to color the copy (“raise an eyebrow”). I’ve even broken some rules of grammar (I’m pretty sure “Don’t” isn’t a full sentence, nor is “Nothing new there” – grammarians’ opinions???). There are bound to be plenty of other examples too.
4. Signal that there’s more to come
People know that each paragraph links logically to the next. But by making that link explicit, you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll read on. (This is a trick I learned from Joseph Sugarman.) So, every couple of paragraphs, finish off with an explicit lead-in to the next paragraph. Lead-ins like, “I’ll tell you how…”, “He wasn’t the first…”, “This is just the first of many…”, and “You’re about to find out how…”. But don’t over-use them. Otherwise you’ll sound like an infomercial offering steak knives! (“But wait, there’s more…!!!”)
Examples from this post: “Let me explain…” That’s about the only one I’ve used, because most of the post is in the numbered list, and lead-ins would get in the way down here.
5. Signal where the meat of the post is
Scanners know that most of your intro can be skipped. So long as you’ve used Signal 1, above, many will scan the page looking for the meat of your post. Make it easy for them to find. You might use a numbered list or a bulleted list, for example. Or some sub-heads. Often, longer paragraphs suggest meat too.
Examples from this post: The numbered list is the most obvious cue. But I’ve backed it up with a sub-head (“It all comes down to 7 signals in your copywriting”).
6. Signal your professionalism
Even if you adopt a conversational style, some colloquialism, slang, humor, or whatever, you should always make sure your reader knows you’re a professional writing to your audience (not just a bumpkin bangin’ some words onto the page). Intersperse your post with some language that your reader will perceive as professional. Whether it’s a certain way of phrasing things, some meaningful jargon, or just a big word or two.
Examples from this post: There are heaps, but here are a few. I started out pretty casual: “People don’t want to read your post. Chances are…” But paragraph 3 is slightly more serious: “…not enough that your posts are relevant and informative.” Then each numbered item is a mix of casual and professional. E.g. Casual: “Once again, not fancy, but promising.” Professional: “An obscure headline is just one more obstacle to a busy reader.”
7. Signal when the reader can stop reading
This isn’t as obvious as it sounds. We’ve already established that readers are in a hurry, and that they don’t want to read your whole post. The important thing to realize is that this applies not just to the START of your post, but also to the END. If your reader can glean everything they want without reading right to the end, they will. This point is really the corollary of Signal 5, above. Just as you signal where the meat starts, signal where it ends. For a simple numbered list post, without a trailing discussion, the stop-reading signal is the end of the list. For other posts, a ‘Conclusion’ sub-head is a good idea.
Examples from this post: I didn’t feel any further discussion was needed for this post. The numbered list is enough. And without much following the numbered list, it’s clear that when it ends, the meat ends.
Don’t assume your subject matter will hook readers. Always craft your copy so that it gives readers the cues they look for. They’ll not only be more likely to read on, but also more likely to come back.
PS. There are, no doubt, other copywriting signals that readers heed when deciding whether to persist with a post. If you can think of any, please share…
Author Bio: Glenn Murray is a specialist SEO copywriter. He heads copywriting studio, Divine Write, and can be contacted on Sydney +612 4334 6222 or at [email protected] Visit http://www.DivineWrite.com for further details.