Roughly how many articles do you think you’ve read about writing better headlines, subheads, or even opening sentences, for that matter?
A ton of ’em, I bet. After all, smart marketers know those are all valuable lessons.
But here’s the thing:
Don’t assume that copywriting techniques can only improve your content by helping you grab people’s attention.
There’s a smorgasbord of content-writing tips that can be borrowed from sales copywriting that go beyond crafting headlines and subheads.
Here are three lesser-known copywriting tactics designed to not only snatch your audience’s attention, but to also keep them gobbling up your every word.
- Qualify your readers (they’ll love you for it)
I bet you’ve heard this adage before:
“If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.”
Yet, a lot of bloggers — especially those writing for multiple personas — don’t always qualify their readers for specific types of content.
By that, I mean:
Make it clear who your content is for — and who it is not for.
Why’s it important to do this?
You’ll create a stronger bond with your target audience. People will be more likely to keep reading if they feel confident that what you have to say is tailored to folks just like them. We’re naturally more inclined to consume content that is highly relevant to our situation or how we see ourselves.
You won’t frustrate readers who aren’t interested. Readers may feel misled if they read 500 words only to realize the post doesn’t apply to them.
It’s pretty easy to qualify your audience, too.
Copywriters use “ideal for” statements to let prospects know they’ve got an offer that’s perfect for them, and they work just as well in content.
Don’t be shy about pinpointing who will benefit most from your content.
- Agitate your reader’s pain — in a good way
As copywriting legend Dan Kennedy put it:
“… people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain.”
That’s why the copywriting formula Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) is so powerful:
Problem: Identify the reader’s problem.
Agitate: Stir up all the painful emotions connected with the problem.
Solve: Give them a solution.
It gives you a surefire way to craft targeted, emotional copy that pulls in the right audience.
Now, a lot of content marketers are great at bringing up the problem and delivering the solution. But it’s the agitating part that’s often overlooked.
So, how do you “agitate?”
Rather than jumping right into the solution, first paint a picture that shows the full consequences of your reader’s problem. Make ’em feel it on a raw, visceral level.
That way, they’ll fully understand why they must keep reading your content. And that’s good for them and for you.
Now, the trick is figuring out how much to agitate the problem.
You may be able to make the reader’s pain feel visceral with a sentence or two. Or, sometimes it could take more time to ensure the audience really understands the scope of their struggle — but once they do, you’ll have their unwavering attention when you trot out the solution in your content.
- Plant “seeds” to keep the pace
This one’s fantastic if you write long-form content.
Every writer is bound to have a few slow spots in their content where the reader’s attention might wane a little. Why’s that a problem?
Because the moment that your pace “lets up” in your writing, there’s a risk that your reader will get distracted and abandon your post. Probably forever. But there’s a simple way to fix this.
By using what copywriting legend Joe Sugarman calls “seeds of curiosity,” you’re able to give readers an incentive to keep going.
Here’s how it works:
Add a short line at the end of a paragraph that entices the reader to continue on to the next paragraph.
You can be very explicit with your “seed” by using phrases like:
Let me explain.
Stay with me here.
Read on to find out.
… or you can take a more subtle approach instead.
A few ideas:
End with a question
I planted a “seed” in the second paragraph of this section by asking: “Why’s that a problem?”
This encourages folks to keep reading because when we see a question, our brains naturally want to know the answer. It works particularly well when you want to transition into an explanation.
Here are some more examples:
Why do I say this?
What does this mean for you?
Why should you care?
Hint at a benefit or solution
Folks will keep reading if they know there’s a payoff coming.
For example, I set up a problem at the beginning of this section and then hinted at a solution with the line: “But there’s a simple way to fix this.”
You can also try these:
It’s easier than you think.
Here’s the secret:
But there is a solution.
Warn of a threat
The human brain is hardwired to respond to threats. Even the slightest hint of danger snatches our attention.
You could write:
A word of caution:
And it gets worse.
But there’s a problem with this.
Those are just a few ideas to get you started.
The important thing to remember when using this technique is that your “seeds” should always feel natural — never forced. Their job is to quietly transition the reader from one sentence to the next.
The intersection of copywriting and content marketing
There are loads of other direct response copywriting tactics that’ll keep your readers glued to your content.
But no matter which techniques you use — whether you’re writing a blog post, sales page, or an ebook — you first need to understand your target audience.
Know their problems. Their fears. Their dreams.
That rule is essential for both content marketing and copywriting.
Which copywriting techniques do you use when writing content? Tell us about them in the comments below.