A massive number of social shares and page views sounds great, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your content is engaging.
Have you checked on the user’s average time on the page? And the bounce rate? What about your heatmap’s data? Check, and I am here waiting for your feedback …
Well, is everything impressive? Probably not. Because if it were, you wouldn’t be reading this sentence. Clicks are a frail metric to measure the success of your content. It’s easier to get clicks than make readers spend more time reading your content.
We write to educate people, entertain them, and convince them to buy what we offer from our businesses. If readers don’t stay longer on your site, the chances of them seeing your newsletter signup form, clicking on your affiliate link, or buying your product are as slim as a needle’s eye.
As a result, your content won’t achieve a good return on investment, ROI.
In this post I will be sharing with you 10 tips that will help you create engaging content that your readers will love reading.
So let’s delve in.
Now, every writer out there (me included) will tell you to polish up on your post’s headlines.
Which is, of course, very important. But the job never ends there. The purpose of creating a great headline is to beckon your audience and have them read your first sentence.
The rest is left to your opening paragraph. If you fail to show up as an expert, two bad things can happen. Either your reader will read your introduction and bounce back, or they will “just” read your introduction, skim through, and leave as if there was no tomorrow.
To avoid these two plagues hitting your content, a good remedy would be using the HPPT opening formula.
It’s a proven SEO-friendly introductory formula that stands for hook, problem, preview, and transitioning, and it will help you make your content engaging right off the bat.
The hook is your first opening sentence. It’s equally as important as your headline. Your hook should be eye-catching. It could be one stupid but useful question like this:
“How much traffic does your blog get?” A cliffhanger …
“Guess what?” A one-word opening sentence …
“Imagine” Or even an anecdote …
“Today, my dog almost killed me!”.
Usually, the main goal of the hook is to grab your readers’ attention as soon as they land on your blog post. Well, you have their attention now.
What follows is addressing their problem. It’s time to sink into their fears and address their pains. And that’s the first “P” in our HPPT formula.
Take a look at this awesome example:
The paragraph is enough to move the reader. For one reason, it addresses their problem. Which assures them that they are in the right place.
What’s next, is giving them a short and sweet preview of what your content will be like.
Just like how your favorite movie starts with a guy robbing the bank. You know what I mean.
This is a good example:
Then get them to adjust their glasses for the hot stuff. That is by transitioning.
Here’s a simple example:
“Let’s get started”
Join everything up, and you’ll have your introduction glowing and reader’s luring.
If you want to create engaging content right off the bat, begin by knowing how to personalize your work.
Most writers struggle with writing personalized content. Which in turn makes them victims of paraphrasing and rehashing.
What happens if you can’t personalize your content?
You get to write for the crowd, which will make your content sound too formal and as boring as an oyster. You’ll then be mixing up different tones, since you’ll be mobilizing different voices from different writers. Finally, your content will have a vague call to action (CTA).
This is how to personalize your content and make it super engaging.
Firstly, always write using a conversational tone. If you come across as though you are lecturing your readers, you’’ll be driving them away. Begin by addressing your readers as “you”. As if they’re a friend sitting across the table. Then aim at writing everything using an active voice. A tool like the Hemingway APP is good at spotting sentences written in the passive voice.
Secondly, define your content’s tone. Your tone, or how you use words to evoke emotions among your readers, is an important ingredient in your content’s recipe. If you can’t get the right tone for your content, sure enough, your content won’t make readers stay longer reading your blog post. For example, if you were writing a review on a bad experience amidst a particular company, your reader would see how angry you are with the company.
Thirdly, turn boring content engaging by using interjections. Oh really? Heck yes!
They work like a charm. Want cool examples? Here they are :-
If you want to get your readers’ attention all through your content, know their fears and strip them naked.
Fear is the master of influence. Motivational speakers address your fears to gain your attention. Marketers address what you fear to boost conversions.
Now take a look at this sub-headline from Pingdom’s website.
By just reading the sub-headline, you are ready to test your website’s speed. That fear of having your web visitors abandon your site because it’s slow is already induced to you.
Another example is from Glen’s post on SmartBlogger. He starts by telling that most freelance writers hardly get rich or earn enough.
By so doing, Glen grabs your attention. That’s because you fear remaining a poor freelancer, and therefore you’re ready to follow his tips, which would boost your online income.
Ultimately, exposing your readers to what they fear the most makes your content more engaging, as readers get convinced that you deeply understand what they are going through.
A block of text isn’t enough to get your readers glued to your blog post.
This generation hates reading more than ever. Social media, television shows, YouTube, and the rest have filled the position of reading. And over the years, the time we set for ourselves to read has been lessening.
Psychologically, visuals on your blog posts do two things. They stop a wandering eye and then create a vivid picture of the content into the reader’s mind.
Research shows a text accompanied by an image increases comprehension by 89%.
Which is why it doesn’t take you too long to understand the message from this:
Than the message from this plain text:
According to jeffbullas.com, an article with an image gets 94% more total views. Another research from Buzzsumo indicates that content of 75–100 words followed by an image gets a double share over content without an image.
Since data hardly lies, all you need is to use images wisely. It doesn’t make sense to include the stock photos all through your content just because “data says” content with images gets more engagement than that without.
Yes, the visuals are good. But then use them to improve the value of your content.
Otherwise, you will be paying an extra dollar for hosting without accrued benefits, since images are heavy files and can lead to a slow website.
Do you love stories? Yes, you do love them.
That is why back in high school, you dearly loved the lessons from a teacher who incorporated a story while teaching.
Stories are what make us watch a movie for two hours or more. That’s because good stories are sweet. They make us feel and relate, and they draw us nearer to the narrator.
It’s no different in content writing. When you want to awaken the sleepy reader or slow down the speedy skimmer, tell them a story.
Henneke of Enchanting Marketing is good at using stories in their content. From one of her blog posts ( Tone in writing ), she hooks you with a story that exactly relates to your problem:
And you can’t resist reading it.
Stories also build the credibility of your content. They tell your readers that you have undergone the same, and you know their problems very well.
Start telling your readers short, sweet stories and they’ll spend more time reading your blog content.
As your readers paddle in the sea of words, you risk losing them any moment and at any second.
But here’s one good technique to slow them down: Use the Bucket Brigades.
The Bucket Brigades are used to lure your readers to continue reading your content. What they do is that they create a mentality in a reader that something ahead is interesting. Then they will read the next sentence. And another and another. Before they realize it they would’ve read quite a huge percentage of your content.
Apart from seducing your readers, the Bucket Brigades also shout to the abandoning readers by telling them “Hey before you leave, there is another amazing tip here. Wanna check it out?”
Here are examples of phrases that make great bucket brigades:
How many times have you been told to make sure that your content is actionable?
As often as when you come across any digital marketing blog. Surely enough, no reader will stay for vague and overly exhausted tips. Great content is practical. It stands out.
Sometimes, you need to think beyond your competitors, doing something more than just searching on Google and slapping words together to make an article. Or hiring a cheap freelancer who will do nothing but rehashing other people’s content.
Readers need different and truly practical tips. They are tired of the same advice being repeated over and over. Instead of relying on other people’s experiments, why don’t you get your hands greasy and collect data too. Simple experiments or writing from your own experience sets your content apart from the others.
For example, let’s assume you want to write a post on how to make money online.
Chances are, you will talk about blogging, affiliate marketing, freelancing, and so on. I agree they’re good sources of income, but these methods have been mentioned again and again.
Instead, what if you did something a little bit creative, like, for instance, interviewing different marketers and asking them about the secrets to their online success? Then you can merge up their ideas and write a killer blog post?
Such a task could be intensive, though it would be worth your time, and you’d earn credit from your readers for your efforts.
You want to write an amazing piece that Google will rank, right? Then do you consider writing to fulfill the search intent? Search intent is the main reason a person has in mind while searching for anything on Google.
If you can’t provide the information that users are searching for, they will avoid your content like the plague.
For example, when a user Googles for “buy an HP laptop,” they are searching for a place to buy an HP laptop. They don’t want a blog post showing them which laptop to buy or what to consider before buying an HP laptop.
Their intent is buying. Period.
Which is why you’ll see e-commerce websites like Amazon or any other online store ranking high for that keyword.
What if the user searches for “Best Laptops To Buy?” Obviously, then, they are looking for information suggesting which laptops they should buy.
People will now read your content, since it gives them what they want.
As a result, before you hit on the publish button, make sure that your content gives readers what they need in order to pass the user’s intent test.
Have you ever written a blog post, quickly edited it, and then posted it, all on the same day? Then after some time, or probably already the next day, when you go through your piece, it sounds weird and crappy.
It’s not because you’re a horrible editor or proofreader but because you did it wrongly.
Actually, content editing is more than running it through the Hemingway App Editor and Grammarly.
That is why I recommend you edit your work when you are as cold as ice.
Once done writing, give yourself a break. Go for a walk; stretch; and meet your friends, and grab a cup of coffee together. Then after that, get back to your work fresh and ready to snap those mistakes hiding in the dark corners.
Read everything aloud to see if your tone resonates. You can turn on the Read Aloud feature if you are using Microsoft Office and ta-dah! You now can discover where the tone drastically shifts or note some mistakes that you could hardly catch by just reading.
If you aren’t good at editing, hiring an editor or an editing agency would be a wise decision.
After doing all that I’ve shown you, you might think that your content now engages your readers like crazy. Well, not until you track it down and see how users interact with your piece.
How long they spend reading your content, their scrolling speed, scrolling depth, and places they click most often.
After all, you write content to generate leads and improve your business’s credibility. Whether you run ads on your site or sell a service, you need your content to get a good return on investment.
And if your blog posts aren’t engaging, they’ll probably not get a good ROI.
Now, how do you know that readers engage with your content? The tips below will help you measure your content’s engagement:
With these data, you’ll have a clue about what your readers want from your blog posts, and so you’ll know about your content performance.
Writing engaging content on a regular basis can be hard. I hope this guide gives you tips to make your content actionable and worth reading for your readers.
Content that makes readers stick around would mean more organic traffic and higher credibility, thereby more sales. That’s what separates awesome content marketing efforts from bad ones.
From that point, follow the information, don’t get mixed up in the corporate language, and soon enough, your content will captivate your audience in a manner you’ve never seen.
James Njoya is a brand story teller. He narrates sweet stories to readers which moves them to read your blog posts, buy, signup for your newsletter and so on. Should you need him to tell your audience a story, the easiest way is finding him on twitter.