They clicked. How Do You KEEP Their Attention?
Okay, you've spent hooooouuuurs crafting the perfect headline. It's intriguing but hasn't crossed the line into click-bait. It's even got a touch of your signature sense of humour. Then you spent DAAAAAAYS coming up with a killer hook. Showcasing your wit & your style & your knowledge. Obviously, you want the person reading to stay with you aaaaallllll the way to the end. So, how do you KEEP their attention without resorting to those gimmicks that we all hate?
You know the ones I mean (nudges with elbow & nods knowingly) the...
"Stay tuned until the end of this webinar & I'll tell you my #1 secret for xyz." (Read: after you listen to all my other bullsh*t)
"I'll give a free gift to the first 10 people who reply back & share with a friend!" (Read: increase my reach & I'll give you something useless)
"ONLY ONE MORE SPOT LEFT!!!!!!!" (Geez stop shouting, I get it already)
"[insert giant countdown timer] Only hours left before the price DOUBLES!!!!" (Read: I know people are suckers for FOMO & I'm betting you're one of them)
Can you add to this list?
Now, raise your hand if you've encountered any of those & wanted to cry/scream/ throw up in your mouth a little? Yep, me too.
I know you don't EVER want to use tactics that leave someone feeling like they've been slimed. And yet...when you see SO many people using them (sometimes even "big" names) you start to wonder if that's what it takes to sell these days Do you need these bribes *ahem incentives* to keep the interest of people who supposedly have the attention span of a goldfish? (thanks social media)
You DO need to understand a thing or two about curiosity.
Humans are insatiably curious creatures. And in some ways these tactics acknowledge that "stay tuned to find out the #1 secret" makes us wonder what that is. So does the unspecified "free gift". But there are other, less scam-y ways to use curiosity to your advantage that don't feel gross.
Think about the novels you can't put down? The shows you binge watch because you can't wait to see the next episode? Even the blogs you NEVER miss opening? What do they have in common?
1. They don't give it all away in the first sentence.
It's not about teasing with "the #1 secret revealed at the end". It's about carefully presenting the information so that you reveal one thing at a time. Like presenting a 5-course meal each dish is gorgeously plated, a delight to all the senses, provides nourishment & they can't wait to see what you've got coming next.
As opposed to a buffet where you shove all the food out at once & cross your fingers they come back for seconds so you're not left with a pile of leftovers.
How can you arrange your information so that they always want to know the next thing? And every bit of info you're giving them is full of value so the interest for more is genuine, not manipulated.
2. They make you think.
Great books/shows/blogs engage the reader/viewer. They ask questions, post problems that may not have obvious, clear-cut answers & ask you to guess what the answer is. On TV, the hero is often presented with a new obstacle right before it cuts to commercial break, leaving you wondering how will he solve it? How would I solve it? How many TV shows can you name that follow the format of a mystery? We LOVE mysteries because they make us think. (It was the parlour maid in the kitchen with the iron) Other ways to engage the reader is directly asking how they would solve the problem? Or what they would do in this situation? Especially if there's more than one answer. The goal is to make them wonder. That turns them into an active participant & gets their creative juices flowing.
As opposed to giving answers that sound like there's no room for thought. As opposed to preaching. A passive experience becomes about trying to absorb information instead of an engaged experience of wondering about the solution.
3. They tell damn good stories.
Remember a story doesn't have to be long. You don't have to become a novelist. We all instinctively tell stories. When you tell someone about your day you probably don't list out the order of events from your Google calendar. You tell stories. You relate anecdotes. A story can be a paragraph. Hell, a story can be a single, well-crafted sentence. Stories humanize what you're saying & draw the reader in - naturally. Just make sure your story is relevant to your message. ;)
Let's all raise our right hand & solemnly swear to engage curiosity responsibly. To never, ever stoop to bribes, screaming in all caps about soon-to-be missed opportunities, countdown timers that take up the entire screen or "but wait there's more!" slimy sales tactics engineered to keep eyeballs on the screen.
Instead, let's vow to get better at telling our stories so they WANT to be read.