The internet is a very busy and distracting place, with thousands of articles being published daily, and you have a lot of competition to attract readers. Not only are you fighting against direct competitors for your readers' undivided attention, but you’re also combating YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and Reddit.
It may seem daunting to go head to head against such big entertainers for your target readers’ attention. Especially if money is tight and you can’t throw huge amounts of money at your content production. Every view is valuable and you need to do all you can to capture attention and remain memorable. By following the tips below, it’s very possible to put together a successful content marketing campaign on a limited budget and not be forgotten after your readers leave your site.
How People Read On The Internet
Part of the problem with remembering articles is because we read things differently online than we do with traditional books. Before we dedicate our very valuable attention to fully reading an article, readers use a subconscious vetting process to check the article. Typically, on any one article, less than 20% of visitors will read the article word for word.
They’ll first glance through the article, gauging how long it is, check out the pictures, and maybe even read the title. (You'd think that would be a no-brainer, but sometimes it's the SEO blurb or image that inspires that initial click.) If you pass this first look-through, then readers will take a little closer at your content. From here, they’ll start reading your subheadings, maybe your first paragraph, and an occasional phrase here and there. At this point, they’ll make the decision to invest more time into fully reading your article, or move on to somewhere else.
If, at any time, you bore your readers, they’ll leave your article for greener pastures (or at least pastures filled with kittens). Every line needs to be action packed, forcing the reader to continue devouring the article, or be left in eternal torment of not knowing what else you were going to say.
Create A Burning Need And Give the Solution
Unless you are making content strictly for entertainment, people are reading to solve a problem/answer a question, or to further educate themselves. A classic way to hook a reader into investing 10 to 15 minutes in your article is to create a need in their life and then provide a solution to it. This need should be broadcasted in your title, images, subheadlines and first few lines. Then you slowly dole out the solution bit by bit, keeping them hang off of your every word until the end.
If you don’t create an apparent need that speaks with your target audience, why should they bother reading it? This need should be a pain point for your reader, whether they are aware of it or not. By pointing it out, and maybe rubbing a little salt into the wound, you can influence your readers' emotions enough that they want to learn how to fix it.
Let Your Personality Shine
If you want to keep readers interested and be memorable, give them a person to remember. Stop coming across like a monotone robot, but an actual, breathing, thinking, imaginative person. Don’t be afraid to write with expressive imagery and write like a real person.
Go ahead and state your opinions, tell a story, do some awesome air kicks, and be yourself. Write with passion and do whatever you need to convey it. Use exclamation points to draw attention to a killer sentence, use colorful adjectives to describe your emotions and don’t be afraid to break grammar rules for emphasis.
Break The Expected Patterns
Since our youth we have been told to write in different patterns and outlines. Remember the standard “essay” format from middle school, with an introduction paragraph, a thesis, three supporting paragraphs and a conclusion?
While your middle school English teacher might have a heart attack, stop following pre-established “patterns” in your writing. Writing in a formula is easy, but it’s also predictable and boring. People want to be surprised and be part of something different. One reason people love the Game of Thrones series is because George R. R. Martin is willing to kill main characters, so anything can happen. Be the George R. R. Martin of online article writing, and do something different and shock your readers.
Connect It With Social Media
If you see something multiple times over a longer stretch of time, you’ll remember it better. This is why, in school, students are encouraged to study over the long term versus a massive cram session. The same is true for your readers. Even if they don’t read the article multiple times, simply seeing a link or a preview of it, will remind them of what you said.
When using social media, follow best practices and promote your work on a regular basis. Avoid spamming your followers, but mention different parts of your articles. Give additional value every time you post it, giving more insights and aggravate different pain points.
Have A Clear Call to Action
Giving your readers a task to do, whether it’s downloading a cheat sheet or commenting on the blog, makes them invest energy into your content. Physically doing something makes a connection in their brain between your article and whatever they do, helping them remember your article much more.
The call to action should be something they’ll actually do and is directly related to the article. Throwing a filler “Do This Thing” call to action will only make you more forgettable. The entire article should be getting the reader pumped up and excited to fix a problem in their life. It builds with each paragraph, and the perfect call to action should be a big flashing neon sign that says “Do This Action and It Will Fix Your Problem.” Or, if your goal is to get readers to engage with the blog through comments and shares, your call to action needs to ask enticing questions about their opinions.
Speaking of opinions, what are some articles that you remember and why? These articles could be related to both your professional and personal life, really anything you vividly remember.
Share with us in the comments below so we can all see great examples of articles that people remember reading.
Ben Allen is a freelance content creator and marketer who focuses on staying on the cutting edge of technology and marketing. He also writes about small businesses, leadership, and occasionally geeks out. You can read more of his writing by following him on Twitter:@allen24ben.
IMAGE CREDIT: Ilya Pavlov