You’ve written your awesome headline and have successfully captured your reader. Now you need to keep them here.
What happens next is vital if you want to retain this reader. Remember there is about 3 seconds (sometimes even less) to make a good enough impression to get them to stay.
Blogging is also a bit like gambling. You place your bet, and if the odds fall in your favour, you win.
So the beginning of your post needs to reveal the winning number that dishes out the fortune. And your reader needs to be tempted into taking up that bet.
This Infographic explains how to write a proper introduction for your perfect post that could win the day for both you and your reader:
And here’s some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
There are two hooks in a post
Blogging is also like fishing. The awesome headline acts like the fly to attract passing potential readers, and the post’s first paragraphs reel the wriggling reader into your waiting catching net.
Two hooks at work. And it’s necessary in today’s world. There is so much content flying about that could distract a reader, a blogger has to work really hard to convince them to give your post a try, and then once there to make them realise it is worth reading.
Apart from the headline, the next thing your reader will read will be the first sentence. If this is unable to work its magic, there is a big chance they will move on never to be seen again.
Make them move down
A lot of scanning readers are first attracted by the awesome headline, and that is where they make their first decision. Quite a lot of them will only read the headline and nothing else. This is a waste of all the hard work the blogger has taken to write the post.
This is why a perfect post needs a proper introduction. It needs to attract the busy and time-poor reader away from the headline and make them read a bit more. This is quite a wrench for them, like venturing into the unknown.
The headline is a safe environment. It is large and welcoming. The first paragraphs of a post demand a commitment from the reader, which can be unnerving. They also need to be as welcoming and accommodating as the headline, and not drive your reader away.
How clear are you?
Ambiguity does not win the day. This is true for both the headline and the introduction. If the reader doesn’t immediately understand the subject or the motive of the post, you’ve lost.
Sometimes a headline will need clarification. After all, it is only a single sentence, how much can you pack into it? A proper introduction should perform that role with gusto. The second thing a reader reads should explain exactly what’s going on, even if it is only a reassurance they are reading the right post.
Comprehension is vital to aid retention. A confused reader will never stay. It is vital that readers really understand the subject, how it can affect them and whether they will benefit from it. This is all part of the split second subconscious decision whether to continue reading or not.
Don’t waste their time
Today’s reader is always short on time. And this is aggravated by being bombarded with too much information from every direction.
A proper introduction will succeed if it plays the convincing game for immediate effect. It requires being succinct, waffle-free, clear of confusion, devoid of clutter that could hinder a decision or put a reader off. It needs to pack a punch right in the solar plexus of the reader, wake them up and want them to read on.
I read somewhere it is the first 100 words that make all the difference. If you haven’t created a suitable impact by then, you’re never going to. This is a very difficult thing to do, and I’m sure my first 100 words often fail to do this. But it is worth considering that these first few words are the ones that could make or break a post.
Tell them what’s happening
A reader needs an extremely good reason to want to read your post. In fact it almost needs to be a burning desire.
This phenomenon can be obtained by letting them know what they are to expect from reading your post in advance. It’s almost like those film trailers that artfully convince watchers this is an unmissable movie. In that short, entertaining and fast-moving episode, enough of the film is included to reveal the subject, style, characters, story-line and much more.
Never assume a summary will kill a reader’s expectations. You’re not going to lose by giving too much away. A proper introduction that summarises the content strengthens the reason why the reader needs to read on, and shows them what they would be missing if they didn’t.
Are they fully prepared?
Reassurance can have quite an impact on decision making. If a reader feels happy about this post and the information it contains, they are much more likely to stop, sit down and read it – even right to the end!
A proper introduction acts a friend. It shows the reader how they can benefit from reading the rest of the content, what impact it will have on their lives, how this knowledge will improve them better than they were before.
It is also important to be able to relate to your reader to convince them. This comes from creating a proper profile of your ideal reader, so that you truly understand their motives for wanting to read on. And the kind of language you use should reflect this as well.
There is a phenomenal amount of blog posts being churned out every day. This is why people scan posts to make an instant decision whether it is worth reading or not, if the subject is interesting, and whether to read it right now or bookmark it for later.
So it is important the post’s first paragraphs are geared up for skim-readers. Both the headline and the introduction need to make an impact right from the beginning, without wasting time with chit-chat or irrelevant material. This sort of thing may be suitable for your loyal readership, but not if you want to capture a bigger audience.
How easy is it for a time-poor reader to make a decision regarding your post? If they scan the first few words within a second, how much information is available to them? What special content is there that could entice them to carry on?
Know, like, trust and believe
This may be a strange concept to get your head around, but actually a blogger wants to form a relationship with their readers right from the first time they land on their post.
Considering the extremely little time available to make a suitable impression, it is imperative that how the post (and the blog) comes across to a new reader. This is where a proper introduction can rise to the occasion. If the content it offers matches the expectations, clarifies the situation and promises enough, this will result in the start of the reader trusting the writer and believing what they have to say.
Once you’ve managed to entice a new reader across that hurdle, the chances of rest of the post being read are much increased.
Get a move on!
As I said earlier, you have an extremely short time to persuade your reader to read the rest of your post. The usual amount banded about is three seconds, but actually I think it is much less than that.
The brain works really fast. So you need to write in a way that is fast reading as well. This time-constraint means you can’t offer a long-winded and convoluted introduction, it needs to be short and concise.
And this means the sentences should be equally short and snappy. Hit the reader between the eyes. Bombard them from the beginning. Make them sit up and take notice. And above all, use the same words your ideal reader would use. This makes your first words far more relatable and easy to understand.
Such a tease!
There is always a need for an incentive to get someone to do something. The majority of people put themselves first, so they require a really good reason to want to read all of a post.
If you add in a delectable and enticing hint within your introductory paragraphs of how your readers are going to benefit from the information your post contains, this will surely fire up their desire to find out more. It is only human nature. This can also be a good alternative to providing a summary, especially if you don’t want to give everything away.
A proper introduction can successfully entice a reader to continue reading by suggesting there is a fantastic solution to a problem or the answer to a totally elusive question somewhere within the post. Then they have to read on to find it!
Now it’s your turn
As always, let me know what you think in the comments below, or share this post on social media and comment about it there.
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