In today’s competitive digital landscape, getting your readers’ attention is often the biggest challenge and the most important part. This is something that most content marketers and online marketers struggle with at some stage of their career.
But there are ways to overcome this problem.
Yes, it’s tough. It’s time-consuming to meticulously examine everything you do, craft perfect content, and then further optimize every aspect of your website to hook your readers, but it’s worth it.
Here are 6 ways to hook your readers and grab their attention.
1. Establish authority right from the start
In the year 2000, the average attention span of people was around 12 seconds. Now, it’s just 8 seconds — which is less than the attention span of a goldfish.
That’s why to hook your readers right away, you need to establish your authority as soon as possible. One way of doing that is to start with an interesting and relevant fact and/or statistics — just like we did with this subheading when we started with an interesting fact about attention spans.
You found that piece of information interesting, and now you are hooked. You are still reading this piece.
The opening content of any web page or blog post (aka lede) is the most important one — after the headline of that post. It not only establishes your authority, but it also gives readers an idea of what to expect in the rest of the post. It sets expectations and builds your credibility once you deliver it.
Other ways of establishing your authority in the opening of the post include:
- Starting with a thought-provoking question that triggers emotions and encouraging readers to think
- Including a true story that the readers can relate with
- Mentioning your own failures or successes
If you notice, all three of the points we just mentioned achieve the same purpose, which is relatability.
2. Making it personal and relatable
You have to be relatable if you want to hold your readers’ attention. The above-mentioned three techniques work very well if you want to make your piece thought-provoking, personal, and relatable.
Some other techniques that you can use to increase its effectiveness and hook your readers include:
- Focus on human interest. Identify what your readers are interested in and then talk about it in a way that they can easily understand.
- Avoid jargon. Almost every niche or industry has its own language. And while you may be completely familiar with it, not all of your readers will feel the same way. You have to accommodate that group by eliminating unnecessary jargons and technical terms. By avoiding complex language and technical words, you will allow your readers to connect with you more effectively and easily.
- Use active sentences. There are two advantages of using active sentences instead of passive sentences. First, active sentences are often more concise. Being concise allows you to add more value to each paragraph, which helps with holding your readers’ attention. Second, active sentences carry more impact and help readers visualize a meaningful story.
3. Understand your readers
If you do not understand your readers, you will never be able to grab their attention for long. They will see right through you — and they will see a person who does not understand what they want. They will question your motivation and your credibility, and they will eventually quit your website.
As a matter of fact, understanding your readers completely should be the first step for you.
Make sure your audience is properly segmented. If you are writing a blog post, don’t write for everyone. Write for a particular group of audience, discuss a distinct issue, and present a very specific solution.
If you are not sure what are the problems that a particular group of readers is facing, talk to other people who might know. If you have a business with multiple teams in it, talk to the customer success team and zoom in on the problem they hear about the most.
Also, talk to the sales team and identify the points that generate the best results for them. What excuses and problems do the salesperson hear most often? What solution works for them? What are the biggest challenges their prospects are facing?
Having this knowledge will give you a deeper insight into what your readers would want. This will enable you to create content that speaks to your readers. With so much valuable and targeted information, you will be more likely to hook their attention successfully.
4. Focus on informative value — not selling your product
While we are talking about value, it is important to mention that being extra “salesy” will make it difficult for you to hold your readers’ attention.
There is a time and a place for everything. If a lead has been warmed up properly, you can reach out to him via a phone call or a well-targeted email campaign to sell your product.
On the other hand, a person reading your blog post for the first time may not prefer reading about how awesome your product is. Therefore, focus on providing exceptional informative value, instead of selling your product or services.
5. Keep up with the trends
Whether you like it or not, trends do affect how people behave, interact, and engage on the internet. If you write about something that most people are thinking about, you are likely to hold their attention for a longer period of time.
However, very few websites can run the content marketing side of their businesses by only focusing on trending news. Therefore, you have to find a nice balance between evergreen content and what’s trending.
Pro tip: Make sure to keep an eye out on the relevant metrics in your Google Analytics account to see how well news-based content is performing in comparison to evergreen content. This will allow you to shape your content marketing plan and optimize your strategy accordingly.
6. Don’t forget the importance of the “downward slope”
Every element on a web page has its role. If you want to hook your readers and grab their attention from the start right to the very end, you will have to use all those elements successfully and in relation with each other.
For instance, what’s the purpose of a headline?
The purpose of a well-crafted headline is to be interesting enough to encourage the reader to read the first sentence of the article.
What’s the purpose of that first sentence then?
Yes, you guessed it right. It is to encourage the reader to read the second paragraph.
So on and so forth.
Although many will perceive this concept as obvious, how many times do we actually create a web page or a piece of content with this rule in mind?
Make sure you are utilizing every element you have — headline, subheadings, body text, images, videos, other graphical assets, etc. — to push the readers down that slope.
It’s a challenge — to hook your readers and grab their attention from the start to the very end. But with the right idea and techniques, you can achieve that.
The 6 tips that we just mentioned will help you tremendously. Over time you will get better at it and see that engagement rate jumping up.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.