The power of an attention-grabbing introduction
The scenario has been played out by millions of individuals on online dating sites: When one of us finds a promising match, we reach out and strike up a conversation. This usually sounds something like, “Hi, how are you doing today?” and might be followed by, “So what do you do for a living?” The conversation quickly peters out, and we move on to the next prospect.
Some say there was no spark, a lack of chemistry in these conversations. I say there was a lack of creative communication.
In the world of online dating, first words count. Fifteen percent of American adults have reported using an online dating site or mobile dating app, according to Pew Research Center, and while we singles aren’t competing with all 40 million individuals, we’re competing with every local signed up in our city. Cheesy pickup lines get eye rolls (flattery does not get you everywhere when it’s over-the-top), while safe, general questions make it difficult to get noticed at all.
Content marketers are facing the same problems as everyone on online dating sites — we are drowning in competition. For every piece of content we produce, millions more out there are created to get clicked on, read and shared. How do we make our writing stand out? The same way users get noticed on dating apps, by grabbing the reader’s attention with a killer introduction.
Headlines encourage online users to click on an article, but it’s the introduction that convinces them to stick around. Just like in dating, a general opener causes a person to lose interest fast. The introduction is an opportunity to get creative. Hook the reader with your words and prove you’re worth their time.
Here are five ideas to inspire your next attention-getting introduction.
The anecdote or story
You search Google for information on pet training and pull up three articles that appear almost identical. Why? Because they lack personality. People are storytellers and we tend to connect with those who share their best, most unique stories. A short, punchy anecdote or slightly longer story can be a great way to inject your unique voice into a piece of content. It can be funny, heartwarming, shocking or even sad — just make sure it’s relevant to your thesis.
“How often do you wash your sheets? Monthly? Whenever you remember? It’s possible you’re sleeping with bed bugs each night.”
A question is an easy way to engage readers right off the bat. Depending on the question, it can force readers to answer with a simple “yes” or “no” or cause the reader to sit and ponder. Most importantly, it entices your audience to keep reading to learn whether or not their answer aligns with yours.
(In case you’re now wondering about bed bugs, it’s best to wash your sheets once a week!)
“You are 64 percent more likely to climb Mount Everest than click on a banner ad.”
This stat, taken from Jozef Toth’s “13 mind-blowing statistics on user experience,” could be a great way to introduce an article about advertising, the decline in banner ads and the rise of other forms of marketing (like content marketing!). By comparing clicking on banner ads to climbing Mount Everest, this stat doesn’t just tell you that banner ads are ineffective. It paints a picture of users who would rather exert every effort to climb a mountain than simply press their finger down to click on a banner ad.
The common trait
In online dating, researching a prospect’s profile and using the introduction to highlight common interests can be a great way to connect with someone. In content marketing, you can bond with your audience by stating a commonality as well.
“We all know eating clean and exercising regularly is good for our health, but that doesn’t mean any of us find it easy.”
This example creates a sense of “we’re all in this together.” I’m not talking down to my audience. Instead, I’m sharing how I too find it difficult to form healthy habits, highlighting a common trait shared by many Americans today.
“In 2015, a man was hospitalized with critical injuries after his e-cigarette exploded in his face. Another victim suffered severe burns on his hands, a hole in his tongue, and knocked-out teeth. Here’s why and how e-cigarettes can literally blow up on you, and what you can do to minimize your risk.”
I don’t smoke e-cigarettes, but this introduction written by Stephanie Lee in “Why e-cigarettes explode, and how you can vape safely” still convinced me to read the entire article. The first line shocks the reader, and by the end of the introduction, I wanted to know more.
One last thought for leaving an impression
From online dating to content marketing, interesting introductions are essential to standing out and getting attention. Use these tips and examples to produce fresh, one-of-a-kind introductions in every article, and always remember to follow the most critical rule: never be boring.