This is a guest post from Niki Tibble. Niki is a content writer, copywriter, and all-around wordsmith at Away With Words and Blogon. When she’s not writing about eCommerce, rum, or recruitment, she can be found eating Ben & Jerrys, never running a marathon ever again, and drinking tea.
Three seconds. That’s it. You have just three seconds to grab your audience’s attention – compelling them to read on and take action. But, an attention-worthy hook is only as good as the content that follows – is yours up-to-scratch?
Find out exactly how it’s done and how you can get to the heart of deep-dive research without losing your audience in these eight simple steps…just don’t get lost along the way.
Know Become your audience
Blog after blog (after blog) says that to engage your audience, you need to know your audience. Scrap that. To engage your audience until the final full stop, you need to become your audience – bringing your knowledge, attention span, and interests to their level, so that you know exactly what will awe and what will bore.
2. Become interested
Passion comes across in your writing. Real enthusiasm shines through the words you use, the tips you give, and the stories you tell. It’s lively, enthusiastic, and, most importantly, infectious – keeping your audience captivated until the very end. What if your deep-dive research is about how quickly paint takes to dry? Become interested in your audience’s interest (see step #1).
3. Tell a story
Once upon a time, we’d read fairytales that would take us down a path of love, friendship, trouble, and turmoil – and we wouldn’t stop reading until we reached “The End.” Steal the ingredients of a fairytale story by:
- Using the beginning to introduce the main characters of your topic and create a setting for your discussion;
- Filling the middle with cliffhangers to draw your audience to the next chapter, and pictures to inspire imagination; and
- Building the story up to a pivotal point, that then comes to a happy (and summative) ending.
4. Signpost the way
Speaking of fairytales, how did Hansel and Gretel mark their way through the forest? They left a trail*. Getting to the heart of deep-dive research without losing your audience requires signposts that direct your audience to the information they want to read about. Use a table of contents for long-form copy, insert headings to summarize a paragraph’s contents, and highlight basic information that can be skipped if necessary.
5. Keep it simple
Keeping it simple doesn’t mean dumbing it down. It means competing with Facebook, emails, WhatsApp, and coffee by making your research easy to read, simple to follow, and enjoyable to finish. Use clear words, active verbs, and headings; cut out the jargon; and talk like a human being.
Simple tip: keep a thesaurus or online tool (such as Grammarly) at hand.
6. Have a conversation
How many people wander off when you’re halfway through speaking? Hopefully not many, and this is because conversations are two-way – your writing should be no different. Involve your audience in a conversation by asking questions, igniting queries, and provoking discussion (this means picking a side!) And, make it real by using different sentence lengths, ignoring out-dated grammar rules, and writing with personality.
The problem with the internet is that blogs, articles, and deep-dive research is, well, all the same. Someone’s a quarter of the way into your long-form content, and they’ve read it all before. Shake it up. Inject ‘wows’ by using fascinating details, add surprise by using different words, and stop with shock by highlighting important information.
8. Save best until last
Just as applicable to deep-dive research as it is to chocolates – save your best information until the end, using the above tips to draw your audience in, build up anticipation, and mesmerize the mind.
Getting to the heart of a topic – final thoughts
Writing compelling copy is hard work – especially when deep-dive research is involved. The art of getting it right? Practice. Become your audience, engage in conversation, be interesting, and show personality – you’re writing for people just like you, enjoy it.
*Oh, and don’t leave a trail of bread!