Is your audience reading your content?
You may have loads of pages on your website and the most comprehensive blog posts to boost your SEO and visibility but a key aspect to consider is whether your audience is actually reading your content.
Writing engaging content that will keep your audience reading past the headline is harder than it looks.
Did you know that on average, 8 out of 10 people will only read the headline? That leaves 20% of your audience that will read the rest. Yes, that means crafting the right headline is key but it also means you’ve got to make the rest of the content worth it for the reader who decides to stick it out.
And making your content worth it requires a balance between what you write and how you write it. It’s an art and one that all copywriters, including myself, constantly strive to refine.
If a professional copy or content writer just isn’t in your budget right now, don’t fear. You can still write engaging content for your website and blog by implementing these simple strategies.
#1 Use content creation tools
The first step to writing engaging blog content, is to cover topics your audience will actually want to read. Sounds easy, right?
For me, not so much. When I first started writing for clients, this is something I struggled with. Why? Because I didn’t have enough client insight to understand what was relevant to them and what topics they’d be interested in reading.
Creating content can be a hit or miss, unless you follow a well-informed strategy. To generate content ideas, find out what’s relevant to your target audience.
The best way to do this is by asking them directly through a survey. If you’ve built up an email list of subscribers or social media followers, use it. Ask them what they want to see more of, what they want to see less of, what keeps them up at night and how you can help them. When you respond with highly relevant content, watch your engagement score soar!
If you’re yet to build an email list or social following, there are plenty of useful online tools available to give you the insights you need. AnswerThePublic provides search data insights to help you really understand your audience and the questions they’re asking.
Screen shot from AnswerThePublic
Keyword search tools like Ubersuggest are great for understanding search trends and generating content ideas.
If you’ve been blogging for a while now, try reviewing the analytics on previous blog posts to understand the topics which most appeal to your readers. Use your top performing posts as a springboard for future blog content to keep those readers coming back!
For more inspiration on engaging blog content, read 10 useful blog topics to attract your ideal customer.
#2 Start with a catchy headline
Knowing that only 20% of your audience is likely to read past your headline, it’s worth spending time on this one. This applies to both website and blog content.
For your website, the headline is the first thing people see. Given that most of your traffic will come from mobile devices, your headline is probably the only thing your audience will see before scrolling. That’s why inserting a call to action immediately after your headline is an effective way of capturing some of your audience (more on CTAs below).
For your blog, the headline is the deciding factor between whether a person decides to click and read more or ignore it entirely.
Your headline should:
- Be attractive – to capture attention from the right audience
- Create interest – to make the audience want to read more
- Be relevant – keep it relevant to your offering or the content to follow
- Be specific – let people know what they’ll get out of reading more
All this in a few words! The main goal for your headline is to get the first sentence on your website or blog read.
To land on an effective headline, brainstorm a few ideas and leave the final decision until the rest of the content is complete. Again, you can use an online tool (like CoSchedule Headline Analyzer) to score your headlines to help you decide on the winning headline. Keep in mind that headline analyser tools are algorithmic and not 100% accurate.
#3 Speak directly to them
No one pays attention more than when they’re being directly spoken to. It’s kind of hard to ignore someone when they’re addressing you by name. Personalisation is super effective in email marketing but it can also be used when writing website and blog content.
Though there’s limited use for dynamic content (i.e. placeholder fields for the reader’s name) on website landing pages and blogs, you can still harness the power of speaking directly to the reader.
How? Write as though you’re speaking to one person rather than to the masses. You can do this by using the word “you” as much as possible. Think of it as though you’re having a one-on-one conversation.
So, if you want to really engage your reader, avoid using “you all” and “yourselves” when addressing your audience. To hold their attention, make it all about the reader and directly address their needs and wants.
Another way to speak directly to the reader and attract the right reader, is to ask them a question to clarify a role, need, or identity, before they continue reading. For example, if your website introduces your audience to your small business consulting offering, you can use the following copy:
“Are you a small business owner? Looking to grow your business successfully? Then look no further. ABC consulting specialises in strategy and direction to take your small business to the next level.”
#4 Ask questions
There’s no better way to get a reader’s thoughts engaged with your content than through questions.
It’s hard to ignore a question! Once you read it, you can’t help but want to know the answer. Even a rhetorical question gets your mind ticking.
Use questions as much as possible, without sounding like a frequently asked questions page (unless that’s the goal) to hold your reader’s attention.
Asking a question is an effective way to introduce the problem that your offering seeks to solve. Some examples:
- For a fitness program: Looking to turn your healthy habits into a lifestyle?
- For a virtual assistant program: Not enough time to give to your business?
- For a budgeting app or solution: Struggling to keep your finances in check?
- For a wellness retreat: Tired of the daily hustle?
#5 Make it personal
Not too long ago, I was having a regular catch up with one of my clients. To help guide my writing, I asked for insights on their trends in blog views and their most popular blogs. Not surprisingly, it was the real-life stories their readers seemed to enjoy the most. So, we decided then and there to start collating these stories to use in future blog content.
Stories are an enjoyable read and relatable, the ultimate recipe for positive reader engagement. People connect with what they can relate to more than a page of just facts and information.
So, when you’re sharing blogs based on your experience or writing your business’ ‘About’ page, weave in a story where possible.
You can also use storytelling as a technique to help your reader visualise their future state as a result of your offering or following through with a specific call to action. For example, a stock image website could use the following copy to inspire and encourage uploads:
You’ve got a story to tell. Everyone does. One thing you’re good at, is telling that story by capturing moments. The world needs to see your story. Upload your own photos now to make it happen.
#6 Use calls to action
A call to action (CTA) is content that encourages the reader to perform a specific act, usually an instruction or a directive.
CTAs are a critical element of good copy for websites, blogs, emails, social media captions, etc. Without a clear CTA, your reader won’t know what to do next and you would have wasted your time writing engaging content, only to not meet your objectives.
If possible, use multiple CTAs throughout your content. This not only acts as a reminder but also provides your reader with multiple opportunities to act. Tell the reader what to do before, during and after reading your content!
Some tips for writing CTAs:
- Use direct language and verbs (e.g. click, sign up, download, call me)
- Use power words where possible (e.g. free, new, discover)
- Create urgency and immediacy (e.g. now, today)
Here are a few examples to give you direction when writing your own CTAs:
- Join us now to start your journey toward a healthier future
- Click here for a free sample
- Contact me for a 30-minute consultation
For more examples, browse the Phrased with Purpose website, you’ll see CTAs littered on every page!
The next time you sit down to update your website copy, write a blog post or develop an email campaign, implement at least one (or better yet, all) of these strategies and see what it does to your reader engagement. Leave a comment below and let me know the outcome.
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Oyelola is a freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. She works closely with entrepreneurs and businesses in financial services, consulting and education, writing quality-rich content to engage their readers and motivate action. When not writing for clients, Oyelola provides insights on writing, wealth and work on her Phrased with Purpose blog and shares her faith journey on her personal blog, He Speaks, I Write.