Grab Your Reader
95% of content that earns no social media shares has a horrible introduction. That isn’t true, but I’m confident it’s not too far off the mark. By all accounts, we’re living in an era of content saturation. Your prospects have options in their Google search results, and if your content isn’t appealing, they might head to your competitor’s website and become a lead.
If you’ve developed amazing blog titles, there’s no excuse to phone it in on your introductory sentence. Website visitors who click through to your website from Twitter and then immediately leave your page because the first sentence is awful don’t do much for your SEO. In fact, if your bounce rate is really high, it can do terrible things for your website’s search rankings. Convinced you need to start writing amazing introductions? Great, because we’re about to tell you 10 ways you can start off each article with a big, shiny bang:
1. Shock Them
Companies who don’t have a strong Facebook fan base could go out of business in the era of social search.
Would you continue reading content that starts off with a namby-pamby, common sense opener like “Facebook fans are important”? I know I wouldn’t. You can be a little extreme, even to the point of being facetious. The point is to attract prospects already seeing 180,000,000 other Google search results so that they keep reading and click on your CTA. No lukewarm opening lines need apply!
2. Be a Little Inane
I hate Google+ so much that I wish I could have a party and invite all the social media networks except for it.
You can’t invite social media networks to your birthday party, but you can use really strange metaphors to express your thoughts and pique the interest of your prospects. Depending on your buyer personas, weird marketing messages could be just the ticket to success.
3. State a Fact
95% of blog content that earns no social media shares has a horrible introduction.
Your statistics don’t need to be real; fake facts can be a humorous way to draw in a reader. Just ensure that if you’re using a real statistic, it’s credited, fresh enough to be trustworthy, and powerful enough to inspire prospects to keep reading. And for the love of content calendars, please don’t use that tired line that “85% of statistics are made up on the spot. Including this one.”
4. Use a Quotation
If introductions don't grab your readers' attention, you wasted your time writing a post no one will likely read. - Tara Hornor
Quotations can persuade, set a stage, or inform readers. If a recognized expert has said what you’re trying to say, use his or her words as a quotation. Most experts recommend that block quotes should be no more than 40-50 words, but exceeding this limit is probably okay for extremely moving quotations.
5. Be Facetious
Most high-fiber muffins are as delicious as chocolate candy bars.
Ah, sarcasm. It’s every writer’s best friend and foe. It’s a wonderful marketing device due to the fact that most sarcastic humor is fairly non-offensive. On the other hand, it can be tricky ensuring the message can be perceived as sarcastic, rather than downright strange. To guarantee nothing is lost in translation, run your ideas by colleagues and opt for extreme sarcastic humor.
6. Be Metaphorical
Content marketing is like a marathon.
Social media is like sandwiches. SEO is your blog’s superhero sidekick. Metaphors set the scene for themed or humorous blog content, and they are a thought-provoking literary device. Alex of Blogussion has found that metaphors are most effective if they’re clearly related to the content’s title or H1 tag.
7. Use Humor
Studies have shown that teenagers statistically drop off after their 20th birthday.
Humor disrupts your reader. It disrupts them from evaluating the trustworthiness of your website, and creates an instant connection. According to Marketing Messaging expert Kathy Klotz-Guest, “Without a human connection, you can’t move your audience to a place where they actually care.” It’s no secret to marketers that using humor correctly can be really tricky, so make sure you keep it PC.
8. Reiterate Persona Problems
Isn’t it terrible that you have to choose between dry, brown grass or a sky-high water bill in the summer months?
What are your buyer personas’ pain points? What problem in their life was so insurmountable they found themselves needing to use Google or Twitter to find a solution? Identify your personas’ problems, and reference them in the opening to your content marketing. This will open the lines of communication between your organization and your prospects, positioning your website as a portal for fixing their problems.
9. Be Confessional
Creating content calendars is a lot like anaerobic exercise. It’s got to be done, but I wish I could pay someone else to do it for me.
If you’re writing content to encourage your audience towards better work habits, or covering less-than-glamorous topics, be a little empathetic: “You hate content calendars, I hate content calendars, but they’re necessary and here’s why…” Few people want to read a blog that takes a sanctimonious approach to content. Empathize with your readers and share your experience.
10. Ask Questions
Have you ever found yourself struggling to find a quotation, joke, or metaphor that fit in your introductory paragraph?
Questions are a tried-and-true literary device that can create an instant rapport with the reader when utilized correctly. According to blogger Tara Hornor, “Questions immediately engage readers and get them thinking.” Use questions to set the right tone for your blog content.
What Are Some Memorable Intro Sentences You’ve Seen or Written?