Want to learn how to become a better copywriter when it comes to crafting a killer blog post?
A good place to start is with your intros.
An effective intro paragraph hooks readers and keeps them reading. This is an essential metric for whether a piece of content performs well. After all, those who find your content valuable and engaging are more likely to sign up for an email list, connect on social media, pay for a product or service, or take other actions that benefit your client.
Not only that, but as your content performs better, gains authority, and ranks better on Google, you’re more likely to get more backlinks and grow your web presence.
Two important metrics to pay attention to include:
- High total time reading (TTR). This is the total amount of time visitors stay engaged with your content.
- Low bounce rate. Bounce rate is when someone visits a webpage but quickly leaves. An effective intro can make a huge difference in bounce rate.
But the trick is to get your client’s audience invested from the opening sentence.
How to Become a Better Copywriter by Telling a Story
Think of it like this. In journalism, news articles often begin with what’s known as a lede. This first sentence or paragraph tells the reader exactly what they need to know about a given event, why it’s newsworthy, and why they should read on.
And, sure, a blog article for content marketing isn’t the same as a hard news story. Yet a good intro has the same core objective for both types of writing. That is, clearly and concisely getting to the heart of the story you’re telling is critical, period.
Where many intros fail is that they completely miss this goal by stating something obvious to the audience, are too vague or broad, or worse, say nothing at all.
When learning how to become a better copywriter, a strong intro can make or break how well your content performs. Here are some ways to make your blog intro not suck.
1. Use Statistics to Prove Your Story
Despite the bad rap statistics get for often being false or fabricated, there’s a ton of good research out there on a wide array of topics to draw on for your content intros.
When you open with precisely the right statistic, you can tell a whole story in one number. It’s not good enough to just pick any old statistic. Those who’ve learned how to be a better copywriter know to find a statistic that is profound enough to serve as a launch pad for your piece and leave the reader wanting more.
For instance, if you’re writing about the importance of cybersecurity software, you might open with a fact such as:
47% of American adults have had their personal information exposed by cybercriminals.
When drawing data from outside sources in this way, make sure those startling statistics also come from reputable sources, such as those with .gov or .edu domains, or those that come from other known, authoritative sources. Knowing how and where to find reputable and trustworthy sources is essential for knowing how to become a better copywriter.
2. Play the “Pain-Claim-Gain” Game
Say that three times fast! In all seriousness, Pain-Claim-Gain only means that you understand that reader’s needs and how to resolve them. Here’s a quick rundown.
Pain: These are the “pain points” of the potential lead reading your content. Often, this means understanding the personas of your client’s target audience—in other words, what makes them uniquely suited to be a good customer for your client’s services or products. Once you understand the customer’s issues, you can address how your client’s unique services or products solve them.
Claim: Here you need to decide what kind of claim you want to make in a way that is authoritative and persuasive. Why are you most suited to answer this reader’s questions and solve their problems? Answering this question will help readers decide whether to keep reading or choose a competitor to trust.
Gains: Gains come when readers buy into the solutions you’re offering and experience relief from their problems as a result. This instills a sense of trust and loyalty and gets them one step further along their buyer’s journey.
3. Tell a Real Story
Opening your content with a real-life anecdote can help connect you with readers on a human level. After all, your reader isn’t the only one who’s gone through the challenge you’re writing about.
Find someone who has dramatically succeeded—or failed, depending on what fits the tone of the piece—and summarize their story in your intro. One effective approach can be to use the beginning and/or end of their story, but leave the middle vague, as the rest of your piece will explicate on that journey.
Be careful, as the anecdote needs to fit your content and your audience well. It needs to really tap into their problems, dreams, and fears. It should forge a connection through storytelling without being longwinded, boring, or trite.
Check out Grammarly’s blog on anecdotes for some good examples.
4. “Start with a Quote” -Thomas Jefferson
Okay, Thomas Jefferson never said that. But the point is that a well-placed quotation in an intro can draw from real-life wisdom and connect your content with a revered voice, anyone from a historical figure to a modern expert on the topic.
If you don’t want to go with a direct quote, you can also open with a popular saying or pop culture reference that will connect with your reader on a social level.
It should be said that this can easily be done badly. The trick is to pick something that is universally known enough that anyone reading will recognize it. It has to fit your client’s voice for their brand and not come off as too cheesy or pandering.
5. Be a Contrarian
Contrary to popular advice, sometimes it pays to go against the grain. This will help your client stand out as offering a unique perspective as a “thought leader” within their industry rather than following the same tired old line.
What is the conventional industry bullshit that your piece can cut straight through? There’s plenty of marketing fluff in any industry that clouds real tactical strategy.
Catch your reader by poking holes in it.
Think about it this way. If someone can read five blogs that all say the same thing, why would they choose to read yours? Are you the Bill Shakespeare of rehashing industry bullet points? Even if you were, this approach tells the reader nothing memorable about what your client offers them.
- Talk to your client about unique internal studies they may have done that contradict competitors’ findings.
- What unique perspective does your client offer?
- Are there contentious points within the industry that get readers emotionally engaged and that you can offer insights on?
These are a few of the ways a good intro can help you learn how to become a better copywriter. But there are many more. Really, the best way to become a better copywriter is to continue applying yourself to your craft and learn from as many copywriting resources as you can.
Connor Holmes is a content writer with Content Workshop who comes from a diverse writing background. He worked as an award-winning public safety staff writer at his hometown newspaper, The Cape Coral Daily Breeze. He earned his MFA in creative writing and has professionally published fiction and poetry. He has also tutored English to students from grade school to grad school.
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