Small business owners understand that attention-getting content is essential but getting there is challenging. Their most valuable commodity is time. Money is vital but it’s their time that’s limited, time isn’t elastic, it doesn’t expand and contract with day-to-day requirements. It takes, on average, 3.5 hours to write a blog post. Few small business owners have the time.
Broadly, compelling content has three parts: part one, tell them what you plan to tell them; part two, tell them; and part three, tell them what you told them. This approach works for blog posts, white papers, presentations, almost any form of business communication can be crafted using this strategy.
If this is the strategy, how is the content constructed?
Start with the Title
“five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy”.
David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man (1963)
Things haven’t changed much since 1963. Today the title is even more critical. CXL did a study that shows the 97% read the title, 98% skimmed the subheads, and only 60% read the entire article, and it was only 300 words long.
An effective title incorporates three things: it attracts the target audience, it communicates the benefit, how the content will help them, and what makes it unique, what makes it worth their time.
The title for this post started as “How to write a blog post in five steps.” When I considered the target audience for this post, small business owners, I immediately thought about their biggest problem, time. They see the value in fresh content, but they don’t have time.
The title became, “How to quickly write effective, attention-getting content in six steps.” Small business owners need to get the job done fast, and they aren’t bloggers, so I used the word ‘content,’ a word that’s less likely to be misinterpreted, it doesn’t have the baggage that ‘blog’ has. They want their efforts to be effective so ‘effective, attention-getting,’ and when I worked through the steps, it became clear that there are six not five.
Write an Introduction
The introduction is where you tell them what you will be telling them. Make it interesting, perhaps even provocative. Use a bold claim to pay off what’s in the title. Build out the benefit. Establish why reading on will be worth the reader’s time. This is the pivot point, the fulcrum you use to tip readers into the content. Make them want to read on, or at least skim the subheads.
Tell them what you will be telling them. Make it exciting.
Attention-Getting Content is Easy to Scan
Include subheads in the body. Subheads help readers navigate, they let them jump to what most interests them.
Keep it short, 5 – 6 sentences max per paragraph.
Do you frequently see posts made up of single sentence paragraphs? There’s a reason for this. It’s easier to read a column of thoughts than it is to read a wall of copy.
This is where you tell them.
Include links. Links out and links in. Links give you authority. They create value. The reader sees where you got the information you are sharing. Internal links help readers find more, in-depth information on topics that interest them. Internal links also help the search bots understand why your site is a source for useful information, information that’s important to searchers.
Write a Conclusion
The Conclusion is where you tell them what you told them. Reinforce the main points, the takeaways that you want to leave with readers. Don’t be shy about it. Call it a conclusion. Put this in the subhead. It should be complete. Scanners will read the title, scan the subheads and read the Conclusion. You want to tell your story briefly, but completely in the Conclusion. If they are interested, they will return to the body and read the entire article, but don’t count on it. Get your point across in the Conclusion.
End with a Call to Action
Including Call to Action is where five became six. I had planned to finish with ‘Conclusion’ but if your readers have invested their time getting to the end, give them something to do. Ask them a question. Give them a task. Encourage them to engage with you. Finishing with a CTA makes your content more valuable, which makes it more effective.
Effective, attention-getting content can be created quickly and efficiently by following six steps:
- Write an effective title
- Start with an introduction – tell them what you will be telling them
- Tell them – use subheads and easily read copy blocks
- Include links to outside sources and content within your site
- End with a conclusion that tells them what you told them
- Follow the conclusion with an action
It may sound formulaic, it is, but it works. Using this approach lets you focus on what you want to tell your readers not on how to tell them. The result will be useful, attention-getting content that will create value for your business and your customers.
Tell us about the content you’ve created using this approach. Describe your experiences in the comments.