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Carly Stec

By Carly Stec

Nov 17, 2014


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How to Write Compelling Content That Demands Attention

Carly Stec

By Carly Stec

Nov 17, 2014

How to Write Compelling Content That Demands Attention

compelling content that demands attentionThink about the last time you read an article, watched a commerical, or saw a tweet that demanded your attention. 

What was it about that piece of content that you simply couldn't resist?

Did it solve a problem you've been facing? Use language that appealed to you? Empathized? 

To convince your ideal customers to take action, you need content that does more than just contribute to the clutter.

Make it memorable. 

Now this doesn't mean you should sit down and wait for a Shakespearean sonnet to flow from your fingertips, but think a lot about the person you're trying to reach. What are their interests? How can you focus your writing so that it appeals to them?

Content that takes shape with their interests and behaviors in mind will capture their attention more naturally. Here's what to consider before you get started.

Give reason

"It's time for bed." 


"Because I said so"

Pretty much everyone can relate to that scenario.

Whether you remember your mom and dad saying it like it was yesterday, or you actually said it to your kid yesterday, we've all heard it. And for whatever reason, we listened (most of the time.)

Why? Because "because" is a ridiculously powerful word when it comes to persuasion. 

The power of "because"

In Robert Cialdini's book, Influence, he details a Harvard study in which a participant was asked to attempt to cut in front of a line of people waiting to use a copy machine. 

First, the participant tried to make their way in by simply asking, "Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?" As a result, 60% of people allowed them to cut the line.

Next, the participant tried to make their way in by asking, "Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?" This time 94% of people let them go first. 

Finally, the participant tried to cut in by asking, "Excuse me. I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?" The result? 93% of people agreed.

Serving as a trigger for compliance, the word "because" increased the success rate by over 30%. 

What this means for your marketing:

Let's say you're working on a landing page for an ebook about the benefits of chicken noodle soup. The first line of your landing page goes as follows:

"Chicken soup is good for you."

Okay. Why?

"Chicken soup is good for you because it contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent the side effects of the common cold."

More persuasive, right?

Make it scannable

Do you remember the scene in I Love Lucy where Lucy and Ethel go to work in the candy factory?

Responsible for wrapping chocolates on a conveyor belt, Lucy and Ethel struggle to keep pace with the production, ultimately resulting in utter chaos.

The human brain functions much like this scene. When the amount of information you attempt to input surpasses the brain's processing power, things begin to malfunction. Details are missed, information isn't stored, and overall performance suffers.

The power of scanable content

According to Nielsen Norman Group, 79% of web users scan website content. 

To further explore the way in which people interact with web content, they conducted a study involved five different versions of the same site. They asked participants to carry out the same tasks across the different websites to turn up usability insights. 

The five variations were classified as follows:

  • Promotional writing (control)
  • Concise text
  • Scannable layout
  • Objective language
  • Combined version

The results revealed that usability was high for both the concise (58% better) and scannable (47% better) versions. However, the combined version (concise, scannable, and objective) rose above all variations boasting a 124% better usability than the control.

What this means for your marketing:

Cut your copy in half. 

We've found that overly wordy content is often a result of poor planning. To help you cut to the chase, don't neglect the outlining process. (For tips on effective outline, check this out.

Spacing will also help to ease the readability of your content. Rather than presenting a website visitor with a large block of text, look for a logical place where you can insert a space. A good rule of thumb is to read your post out loud and insert a space whenever you naturally pause to take a breath. 

Not only does it help to offset lengthy areas of text, but it also helps the reader's eye flow throughout the post.

Make it customer-centric

With new tools enabling us to provide more personalized online experiences comes an inevitable rise in consumer expectations. 

Quite simply, the more relevant the communication, the more likely a prospect will be to remain engaged. 

The power of "you"

A study from Dennis P. Carmody and Michael Lewis was conducted to explore the way the brain reacts to hearing our own name in contrast with the names of others. 

The researchers employed four English-speaking, right-handed adult males to participate in a series of auditory tests where they listened to a proctor read off blocks of names, including their own. 

According to their finding, hearing one's own name resulted in a unique brain functioning activation that was unique to the responses elicited by other people's names. 

What this means for your marketing:

Personalization eliminates the need to appeal to everyone by providing you with an opportunity to tailor content to address specific people. 

Aware that people are responsive to their own name, consider using personalization in email subject lines or on website pages to capture their attention and engage them. 

However, keep in mind that personalization doesn't have to be limited to plugging in potential (or existing) customer's names every chance that you get. 

Personalization can also extend into lead status, location, gender, age, etc. 

Consider the benefits of using website personalization to map out an experience that adapts to different stages of the buying process. 

As your visitor evolves from a stranger to a lead to a customer, personalization can be used to adjust website content so that it evolves with them in order to remain relevant.

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