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Five tricks to keep ’em reading

Last month, we looked at a simple truth. Your readers are more interested in themselves than they are in you. And to keep them reading, you need to focus on them and their motivations. Big surprise, huh? This month, we’re going to look at five simple techniques you can use to encourage them to keep reading, even when they mightn’t want to.

Number one: broken lists

Everyone likes reading lists. And it’s a natural human expectation that if you promise a list of, say, three things, you’ll deliver three things. But to keep them reading, why not artificially break the list across two paragraphs? Like this…

As a subscriber to Maslen on Marketing, you gain three things. First, hot tips on the best way to sell using the written word.

Second, membership of a worldwide community of marketers who value the craft of copywriting. And third, digests of the best new ideas from around the world.

I defy you not to read the second paragraph to find out how the story ends.

Number two: teasers at paragraph ends

In fact, we could build on technique number one by encouraging them to read on to the next paragraph. Here’s a simple way of doing it…

Second, membership of a worldwide community of marketers who value the craft of copywriting. And third, digests of the best new ideas from around the world. But that’s not all.

There are plenty of other teasers like this. You could say…

And here’s why.
And there’s another reason why subscribing makes such good sense.
So why subscribe?
If you’re not already convinced, how about this?

Number three: pages ending mid-sentence

This is another great device that plays on basic human psychology—in this case, once again, the need for completion. If you have a letter that goes over the page, make sure the first page ends mid-sentence. Something like this…

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You can add a PTO if you like, but my bet is your reader just won’t be able to help themselves. They HAVE to turn over! (And do explain to any well-meaning copy-editors that you spent A LONG TIME fixing that final sentence and please don’t ‘neaten it up’ by reuniting it with its tail end.)

Number four: promises of goodies later on

Particularly appropriate for longer letters, this technique draws your reader in by weaving multiple lines into your text. There’s the narrative they’re reading right now, and there’s the narrative they’ll be reading in a moment. And you can use “in a moment” to achieve the effect. Try this…

In a moment, I am going to reveal to you the five most important errors most copywriters make on the order form. But first…

Again, you are enticing your reader and involving them in your narrative. They want to know what’s coming next and they’ll read on to find out.

Number five: the humble PTO

We just looked at sentences running over a page break, and I said you could use a PTO. Just make sure you fire up the old creative engine and write something better than ‘PTO’. How about…

Three more benefits overleaf…
Details of your free book overleaf…
Hear what your fellow engineers have to say>>>
Mrs Smith’s story follows…

And my point is?

If you know a little about the way people read, you’ll be able to draw them through your copy using specific techniques that play on simple psychological truths. Practice the five here to ensure you can incorporate them smoothly into your copy.

Categories: Marketing Copywriting and Maslen on Marketing.

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