How to Captivate an Audience of Readers

Did you know some people hate to read?

It’s scary but true. A surprising number of people don’t like to curl up in an easy chair with a good book. Why? Lots of reasons; impatience, short attention span, the want-it-now attitude, dyslexia, downright laziness…there’s an in-depth discussion about it at Goodreads.

The ironic thing is that we live in a technology and Internet-driven world where marketing is taking on the persona of intelligent copy and visual stimuli. As the younger generations grow more dependent on cyberspace, the way we do business continues to evolve.

Thousands of brands do the bulk of their business via electronic communication, never once conversing with their clients via telephone or in person. But a growing number of people hate to read. So in a time when the primary way prospective consumers will learn about and engage with your business is through content marketing, how can you captivate those word weary souls and make them want to read your copy?

Hook with Head-Turning Headings

According to Neil Patel and Joseph Putnam, headlines are worth 90% of the advertising dollar. Five times as many people read the headings of any given document versus the actual copy.

Honestly, did you actually read to this paragraph, or did the heading grab your attention as you skimmed? Chances are you did the latter.

Audiences are in a hurry. Regardless of whether they like to read or not, they’re constantly looking to cut the fluff and reap the reward. It’s part of that I-want-it-now attitude, and there’s a large portion of your audience who need it now. So cater to them.

Captivate your audience with short, punchy, and relevant headings. They should convey a single point while also triggering an emotional response. As Patel and Putnam say, use the four U’s for crafting headings:

  • Unique
  • Ultra-specific
  • Urgent
  • Useful

Tell a Specific Story

Everyone loves a good story. Stories are relatable, charming, and entertaining. They can be serious, funny, charismatic, involved, simple, anything they need to be to deliver a specific message. Note that word, specific.

Captivating an audience of less than enthusiastic readers takes a specific kind of storytelling genius, the kind that makes the most mundane or complex topics feel like a cake walk and like the audience isn’t tackling the chore of reading. A great example of this kind of storytelling is Social Triggers™.

Derek Halpern’s blogs are the pinnacle of captivation for two reasons. First, the copy is always easy to scan, enticing to really read, and decadent to digest. Each post is its own little story, and a lot of his content is complimented by a very cool way of storytelling, which brings us to our next point…

Get Visual

We process visuals way faster than text. The folks at HubSpot put together a list of 19 statistics for visual content marketing, and a couple of the standout stats highlight this fact:

  1. 90% of the information that hits our brains is visual, and we process it 60,000 times faster than text.
  2. 40% of your audience will respond better to visually presented info versus plain text.
  3. Social media posts with videos attract three times more inbound links.

There’s no denying that you need words that work to establish and maintain a strong online presence, but there’s also no discounting the use of great visuals.

Social Triggers™ again provides a fantastic example. Derek’s blogs often come with or promote a one to five-minute video. It’s the perfect duo of captivating copy plus attention demanding visuals. And it’s ideal for every audience member, from the bookworms to the I-want-it-now time balancing pros. Check out an example in FINALLY! How to Start… Anything.

Demand Action

People love to be involved. If there’s one lesson to be learned from the rise of social media, it’s that people do not want to be on the sidelines. They want a voice. They want to be heard. They want to take action, and they want people to see it. It doesn’t matter if the action is an ice bucket challenge or a retweet; if it’s an action that contributes to their passion and gives them a little limelight, game on. So tap into that!

If you demand action through all aspects of your online content, it’s a surefire way to captivate even the most reading opposed audience member and make them dig into your words. And that can lead to click throughs which lead to sales which lead to repeat customers and, well, you get the idea.

Aldous Huxley said it best, “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly—they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”

Your content, from copy to visuals, has the power to pierce. It can captivate, engage, and spur people to action if it is simply well crafted.

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