This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.
If you want to create blog posts, white papers, and even ebooks that clearly communicate your idea and compel your readers to do whatever you ask, you need to use this little formula.
It deals with the four different learning abilities people have, but it’s also based in a rock-solid copywriting technique I’ll tell you about in a minute.
Let’s take a look.
Learning styles and decision-making
There are basically four learning styles:
- Analytic: These learners like facts and will evaluate how your information compares to other facts and competing claims. About 20% of people are analytic.
- Commonsense: These learners are practical and want to know how things work. About 20% of people are commonsense learners.
- Dynamic: These learners look for interesting information, but are more gut learners and teachers. They want this information for themselves and for others. Approximately 25% of people are dynamic learners.
- Innovative: These learners demand reasons why they should learn something. They look for the personal benefit in content. Innovative learners make up the most of people at 35%.
This analysis may seem a little too scientific for writing blog content, but it’s not. It’s really relevant to another common formula known as AIDA, which says that each of us moves through four stages in the decision-making process: attention, interest, desire, and action.
As I’ll show here, you’ll gain attention when you approach the beginning of a post with the innovative learner in mind. You’ll stoke interest as you make the analytic learner happy. When you give the commonsense learner what she wants, you’ll build desire. And finally, as you create your call to action, you’ll get the dynamic learner involved, too.
Let’s see what this approach to writing looks like.
Grabbing the attention of the innovative learner
Every good writer knows that it’s the headline that attracts attention, and explains why you should read the article. It gives a compelling reason, something the innovative learner demands.
Great headlines have four qualities. They are:
- Unique: A unique headline is one that nobody else can use because of its unique selling proposition. If 40 other blog posts could use it, then it is too general.
- Useful: The reason why “how-to” guides are popular is because you get answers to your problems, which, as you can imagine, the innovative learner loves.
- Ultra-specific: My post, 10 SEO Trends You Can’t Ignore If You Want High Rankings is a good example of ultra-specific since I used both a number and isolated this post to SEOs.
- Urgent: By putting a deadline into your headline you create urgency. For example, “30 Days until the Price Doubles” or “Last Chance: Registration Closes at Midnight” are urgent headlines.
After you’ve grabbed the attention of readers with your headline, hook them by writing a great opening paragraph, which starts with a great first sentence. Here are some examples from Huffington Post:
- “It was a pleasure to burn.” Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
- “We were just outside of Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Asking questions and using statistics and quotes are also great ways to attract the attention of the innovate learner in the first sentence. So does making a crazy statement that simply can’t be true, but then promising to show your reader that it is.
Building interest for the analytic learner
Your next step in writing irresistible content is to build interest through the presentation of cold, hard facts—something the analytic learner needs. In other words, you provide proof of your claims.
Here’s an example of proof gone wrong from the copywriter Robert Bly:
A motivational speaker just sent me a free review copy of his new book, published earlier this month.
A banner on the front cover proclaims the book is an “international best-seller.”
Yet when I check it online, the book is ranked #292,514 on Amazon.
Surely, if this just-published book were in fact an international bestseller, it would be at least in the top 100,000 on Amazon right now, no?
Does the author realize how silly, or at least unbelievable, his claim to bestsellerdom looks to the intelligent reader who bothers to check?
Or is his assumption that people today are so naive they will believe anything correct?
My experience, by the way, is the opposite: people are more skeptical than ever today, and their B.S. detectors have never been more accurate.
The moral of the story is if you’re going to make a claim, back it up. Link to your sources, provide graphs and statistics. Most people are not going to believe what you say unless you have proof. So give it to them.
By the way, don’t make a claim and then search for data to back it up. The analytic will see right through that. Instead, you should start with the data and then your insight or idea will develop from it.
For example, you can tell the author behind this Social Media Examiner article started with the data first, writing a very insightful article from his findings.
Show the analytic that you’re an authority
Further proof for the analytic learner is authority. You need to prove any claims you make and then you need to show why they should believe you.
One way I show that I have the authority to speak on the subject of writing popular blog posts is by mentioning my blog that was named among the Technorati Top 100. It shows that someone else with lots of credibility recognized me as an expert.
You’ll see blogs with “As Seen In” sections with the logos of important companies and media sources, like the Wall Street Journal, underneath. This is an endorsement and it’s another way of showing you have authority.
Here’s what WordStream’s footer looks like:
If sources like Entrepreneur and CNN back you, then people feel they can trust you.
Testimonials from readers and clients are also a form of authority, so don’t forget to include one or two when appropriate.
Teasing the commonsense learner with desire
The next step in writing irresistible content is to develop desire for your claims. You’ve attracted readers’ attention, built their interest … now you please the commonsense learner who wants to know how something works.
How do you do this?
Simple. Explain what it is that your offer will do for them. Maybe you’ll show them how to pick stocks, lose weight, or grow an organic garden.
But don’t give away the farm. What do I mean by that? Here are some examples I’ve seen where writers give away the farm:
- a blog post that explains explicitly what a guy needs to do to pick up hot women
- a sales letter that unpacks the secret to save money for your child’s college education right in the letter
- a video sleeve copy that demonstrates the best ways to run a marathon
- a movie trailer that spills all the funniest jokes and the most exciting plot twists.
Don’t get me wrong: I appreciated the information. The problem is I didn’t buy any of the products or act on any of the advice. Why should I? Everything I needed to know is right in there. No wonder their conversion rate stinks.
Don’t over-educate. Tease the commonsense reader into action like this:
- Does your audience want to overcome depression? Then tell them you have a five-step program that will transform them into a happy and productive person … but don’t give away the steps free.
- Does your audience want to retire at 21? Then tell them how you’ve helped hundreds of people build wealth using an ebook marketing strategy … a strategy they can get their hands on once they go through a rigorous application process.
- Does your audience want to lose weight? Then tell them you’ve figured out how exactly to do just that with the right combination of exercise, food, and vitamins. But don’t tell them what that combination is. Just tell them how these will make them live healthier and longer.
See how that works?
It tells the commonsense learner what something can do for them, but not how. It doesn’t give away the specifics.
Sometimes you can let them peek behind the curtains, like giving them just one of the steps in a six-part process, but not so much that the commonsense learner has everything she needs. Leave something juicy off, dangle it in front of their faces, and promise you will give it to them when they act.
Pushing the dynamic learner to act
Now that you’ve attracted attention, built interest and developed desire, your audience, namely your dynamic learners, should be primed to pounce on your offer. So, tell them what to do.
There are five characteristics to a good call to action:
- Specific: Tell your reader exactly what you want them to do. “Please enter your name and email address to download a free copy of the ebook,” for example.
- Meaningful: Readers are more likely to act if you tell them the reason why you want them to act. “Register for the event now. We only have ten seats left.”
- Repetitive: A good call to action is repeated at least three times in your copy. Each time should be slightly different, but it should always be clear what you want the reader to do. And it should be the same thing each time.
- Smooth: A good call to action is natural to what you are writing. It feels like it ties all your copy together neatly. And it should never scream or be full of hype.
- Polite: It always works bests to ask your reader to do something rather than command them. For example, “Why not subscribe right now before the offer ends at midnight?” works much better than “Subscribe right now before the offer ends at midnight.”
Once you’ve worked your way through the AIDA formula in your copy, you’ve naturally given each learning style what they want, and in the meantime, written some pretty compelling content a large audience can’t resist.
Furthermore, the great thing about this approach is that you could break a topic up into four different posts for each learning style. Or you could do a longer post, including the above approach for all of them. Either way, you’ll create content that people find irresistible.
What other formulas do you use to create irresistible content?