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Do you know that in the past a company had all of three seconds to catch your attention using traditional advertising (print, TV, or hoardings)?
Today, a content marketer writing a blog is luckier. They get up to 15 seconds to do so!
That’s about the time it takes to read the opening sentences of your post: its introduction. If the content has not been compelling and memorable, chances are the reader will quickly move on.
So, how will you ensure they get involved and interested in what you have to say?
Here are a few of the most tried and tested ways to make that happen.
There’s intense competition for eyeballs in the digital space.
Remember that writing an introduction in today’s digital-driven world is no longer as simple as it was in the days of the printed word. All the more so now, when the primary interface we use is a small handheld device.
Just consider the following from different sources:
- There are 1.82 billion websites on the internet
- Google Search Index contains over 100,000,000 gigabytes of data.
- 2.14 billion people will shop online in 2021
- 47% of all purchases are done online
- Smartphones held a 63% share of all retail website visits
- Average time spent on social media rose from 90 mins in 2012 to 145 mins in 2020
- In Q2 2020, 31% of online sales took place on mobile devices.
Now you know why you have 15 seconds to succeed!
You clearly need an attention-grabbing introduction
The headline and accompanying visual usually appeal to the eye. If they were catchy enough, they got the reader here.
Now it’s your responsibility to keep the reader going. The introduction has to appeal to the mind, stimulate thought and prod them into action. To get them to scroll down, think of the heading and image as bait, and the introduction as the proverbial hook. It must excite one’s thought process.
Three key aspects to make sure your introduction works
The ideal opening para(s) of your post must be able to
- Consolidate and build on the headline
- Arouse interest in the main theme
- Lay out a basic framework for how the subject will be addressed
The aim is to keep the reader wanting to know more.
Some simple tools and tips for a winning intro
Let us go a bit deeper into what makes for a winning formula; or how a good introduction can build on the ‘bait’.
Get off to a flying start
The opening sentences should often be as attention-grabbing as the headline. But they should also be relevant to the theme that is being discussed.
It’s easy to achieve a snappy start. Some of the most common methods are:
- An anecdote: Nothing builds rapport better than a story, and a personal one is even better. “I clearly remember the night my first blog post was published…” The would-be blogger (reader) instantly finds a connection
- A thought-provoking quote: Sharing the opinion of an expert can be comforting to the reader. “Well-known social media influencer, ABC Smith, says ‘Experience shows that the best way to start a new post is…” It tells the reader that the author has researched the theme and is sharing knowledgeable opinions of others too
- A surprising statistic: Startle the reader into wanting to know more. “The introduction is a make or break section. According to XYZ Analytics, when a reader spends more than 5 seconds on a blog, she reads to the very end…” Would you be satisfied to stop there?
- A seemingly outrageous statement: “Over 85% of the 1.82 billion websites on the internet receive less than 50 hits a month. That’s why compelling content and attractive design are so crucial when using digital media.” Wow, is that really so? I must read on
(Disclaimer: Some of the names and facts used in this section have been ‘created’ for illustrative purposes!)
After the hook, get quickly into the main theme under discussion. Define it in a way that the reader realizes it probably has some information that will be of benefit to her.
The easiest way of achieving this is to pose a question (“How does one write a compelling introduction?”) or mention a commonly experienced problem (“Why do such a few visitors spend more than 10 seconds going through a new blog post?”). Do this right and chances are high that the reader will want to explore the answer being offered.
Present an overview
The last component of the introduction is to give a glance at the solution. Or at least outline the framework within which it is going to be discussed. In the above example, it could be as simple as “We will take a deeper look at some key ingredients that can turn an introduction into a real super hit” or “Let’s discuss what well-known and experienced bloggers have to say about how they tackled this issue”. The reader is reassured that she will learn something new if she reads to the end!
Let every introduction have your own signature
It is most important to note that these tips should not be applied as if they provide a definite winning formula. Use them as a guide to create a framework that works best for you. A really good introduction should take into account specifics like the themes you write on, audiences you write for, and the nature of your product.
Concluding in style is also important, it will get the reader to come back for more. But, that’s a separate topic and a theme for another blog post!