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The content landscape gets more complex and competitive every day. That means it’s more important than ever for content marketers to do everything they can to capture their audience’s attention.
Writing effective, attention-capturing content means knowing how to truly engage the reader. Driving that reader to respond to your content clearly shows you’ve achieved that goal. By following the six tips below, you can improve your ability to connect with consumers – and do it in a way that compels them to take action immediately.
Why is driving an immediate response important?
It’s no secret that engaging your audience is critical for content marketing success. But, not all engagement is created equal, and your objective should be to elicit a meaningful, timely response – whether that’s by subscribing to your email list, buying a product, or sharing your content with friends.
Why is timely action so important? Here are a few key reasons:
- It helps you get your content seen by more people. When your audience acts on your content – for example, by sharing it with their friends – it increases your brand’s visibility and helps get your content in front of more consumers. On many content platforms, including search and social media, the speed at which you can get your audience to share or react to your content directly impacts your potential reach.
- It helps you build stronger audience relationships. When someone responds to your content, they aren’t just consuming it – they’re interacting with it. It creates a connection with your brand that you can measure — and reinforce by sharing additional content that might interest them. This can lead to more consistent engagement and help establish your brand as a trusted voice in your industry.
- It helps you achieve your content and business goals. Whether you’re looking to increase sales, generate leads, or build brand awareness, driving an immediate response from your audience is key to achieving those goals. For example, your article may compel a prospect to comment, which puts them on your sales team’s radar as a potential lead. Or your thought leadership piece may get shared in a new online community, generating brand awareness among that target vertical.
It’s hard enough to get a reader’s attention once, let alone twice, so don’t let the opportunity go to waste. Capitalize on that moment of attention with copy that encourages readers to act promptly.
What does it take to write that copy? These six tips will point you in the right direction.
Tip #1: Write a compelling headline
Your headline is the first – and sometimes only – chance you’ll get to grab a reader’s attention. A compelling headline can mean the difference between taking the time to read your piece or quickly moving on to something else.
There are a few key elements that make up a great headline:
- It should be attention-grabbing. A headline that doesn’t immediately grab the reader’s attention is likely to be passed over in favor of something more interesting. Consider why you created the content and why your audience should care. Are you challenging the status quo? Providing actionable tips? Sharing stories about a well-known brand? Be sure to include these details so your headline stands out.
- It should be relevant. If your headline doesn’t accurately reflect what’s in the article, you risk losing the reader’s trust once they realize they’ve been misled. Remember, you’re not just looking to get clicks. You also want to drive your readers to take action – something they’ll be less likely to do if they feel like you’ve deliberately misinformed them.
- It should be clear. A headline that’s unclear or too difficult to understand will likely be passed over in favor of something easier to digest. You want to be specific and concise, removing any unnecessary filler words. If your content includes steps or a list, add clarity by putting a specific number in the title. Another way to add clarity is to use brackets that indicate more about what the reader can expect, such as [infographic] or [interview].
- It should be length appropriate. A headline that’s too long or too short is less effective than one that’s just right. It’s recommended to stay around 80 characters for your headline, with 100 characters being the maximum.
Tip #2: Write to a specific person
Content should be more like a conversation than a broadcasted message. When you write to a specific person, you create a personal connection that makes readers more likely to listen and respond.
Think about it this way: If you were at a party, and someone started shouting at everyone in the crowd, would you stop to talk to them? Probably not. But if that same person approached you personally and started chatting, you’d be more open to engaging in a conversation with them.
Here are a few tips for writing to a specific person:
- Picture an actual person. While researching and writing, hold a customer persona or specific member of your community or audience in mind. Would Jordan, a content strategist at an enterprise B2B SaaS company, find this compelling? What about Jesse, a UX writer at a mid-market consumer technology company? Be sure to pick or design a persona based on your goals for the piece.
- Use personal pronouns. Using personal pronouns (e.g., “I,” “you,” “me,” “we,” “us”) makes your writing more relatable. In particular, the second-person pronoun “you” makes your writing feel more like a conversation between the writer and the reader.
- Be specific. The more specific you are, the more you’ll be able to connect with your reader. When making a point, support it with specific examples so your reader can better understand how the idea works in theory and practice.
Tip #3: Make it easy to read
It’s important to make your content easy to read if you want to generate an immediate response from your reader. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Use short sentences and paragraphs. Shorter paragraphs are easier to parse, especially if you limit each paragraph to one idea. Another factor is that content is increasingly consumed on mobile browsers with narrow screens. What looks like a short paragraph on desktop might actually look like a long paragraph on mobile, so aim to have your paragraphs be no more than five lines long and no more than 100 words long.
- Use bullet points or numbers when possible. If you are conveying a series of related ideas, try formatting them in a bulleted or numbered list. List formatting helps the reader identify key takeaways more easily.
- Use simple words and language. When you write in clear and simple language, you make it easier for your reader to find the information they need and understand that information when they find it. Additionally, writing in plain language means that your content will be more accessible to less fluent readers.
- Highlight important information. Use formatting elements, like pull quotes or bold text, to emphasize the most important information for the reader – like your key brand messages or the specific actions you recommend taking.
Tip #4: Use active voice
Writing in an active voice makes your content more engaging and easier to understand. It also helps your brand sound more authoritative, which helps to gain your audience’s attention and trust.
To encourage your reader to act, you need to make it clear what action you want them to take. Because active voice emphasizes the action a subject performs, it’s better suited to content marketing than passive voice, which emphasizes the recipient of the subject’s actions.
Many of advertising’s most famous slogans, like Nike’s “Just do it,” Apple’s “Think different,” or Burger King’s “Have it your way” all urge the customer to take action. For example, when Nike says, “Just do it,” it puts the decision to act into the customer’s hands.
Active voice is particularly important when writing headlines. In fact, if you look at blog posts from companies like Buffer, HubSpot, and Intercom, you’ll notice that nearly every headline is written in an active voice.
Yet, there are times when passive voice can be used effectively, as well. For example, this CMI article, 4 Metrics Not To Be Missed in Your Next Content Audit, uses the passive voice to emphasize the metrics rather than the potential act of missing the metrics.
Tip #5: Add visual interest
To capture even more attention, consider using images, infographics, and video to add visual interest. These visual elements break up the text while also reinforcing the message you are trying to communicate. This approach also helps to engage visual learners with written content pieces.
Follow these tips to add visual interest in a way that drives an immediate response:
- Choose images that are relevant and relatable. A well-chosen image can illustrate a point or create an emotional connection that goes beyond what you can accomplish with text alone. A common use case for images would be to show examples of the subject being discussed – for example, including images of actual newsletters in an article about newsletter best practices.
- Make sure your infographics are clear and easy to understand. An infographic can be highly effective at helping your audience digest any data discussed in your content. Try to use simple charts and graphs, then provide support text to help explain how the reader should interpret the information.
- Keep videos brief and to the point. To maximize engagement, aim for your videos to be less than 30 seconds in length. You can also break up longer videos into smaller snippets, if necessary. Also, make sure to caption your videos so they’re accessible for everyone, including viewers who may not want to use audio at the time. Don’t forget to add your CTA at the end of the video, as well.
Tip #6: Create a sense of urgency
Driving your reader to take action is only half of the equation – you need the reader to take action now. Otherwise, they might get distracted and forget to return to complete the action.
Creating a sense of urgency is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this. Here are some tips to try:
- Highlight the consequences of not taking action. For example, you could write about how not taking action could lead to missed opportunities or negative consequences.
- Use language to imply the time-sensitivity of the action. For example, you could use phrases like “don’t wait to improve your ROI” or “the end of the quarter is quickly approaching.”
- Offer a limited-time offer. This could be a discount, a freebie, or access to a one-time event that’s happening very soon.
Write with engagement in mind
For great content marketing that performs, you need to know how to write to engage your audience. By following the six tips outlined above, you can improve your writing and compel your readers to respond when it matters most.
So, what are you waiting for? Put these tips into practice and see how they can help you drive better results with your content marketing efforts.
Writer is the leading AI writing platform for teams. Writer empowers GTM leaders to build a consistent brand across every customer touchpoint. Automated language generation and writing suggestions make it possible for teams to accelerate content, align with their brand, and empower more writers across all types of content and communications.
Writer recently launched CoWrite, which helps you produce high-quality, on-brand first drafts in a fraction of the time, using AI that is custom-trained on your best content. You can learn more about CoWrite on our product page: CoWrite.