You will fail as a writer if you don’t capture your reader’s attention.
That’s just one key to successful writing. There are several mistakes writers make that kill their reader’s interest. This is critical because if you lose your reader, you’ve wasted your time and resources on creating content.
According to a 2015 study by Microsoft, human beings have an attention span of 8 seconds.
In fact, Crazy Egg confirms a short attention span. They found that the average time spent on a web page is 15 seconds.
Whether you’re a content writer or a marketer in charge of your content strategy, you need to know how to keep your reader’s interest.
In this article, you’ll learn 7 critical writing mistakes that kill reader interest and how you can fix them. By applying these simple tactics, you’ll ensure your readers actually consume your content, so it converts!
Let’s dive in.
Mistake #1: Forgetting WHY You’re Writing an Article
The biggest mistake writers are making with their articles is writing aimlessly. Pumping out content for the sake of 'putting something out there' is a huge mistake.
Your content needs a purpose or you’ll lose your readers. If you don’t have a clear goal with your overall content strategy, you’ll fail. And… if you don’t have a clear goal with every individual article, you’ll fail.
Start with your end goal. Why do you want people to read this particular article you’re writing?
If it’s simply to inform them of something, or teach them, you’re missing the mark.
You always need to have a purpose behind your content. You can aim to teach them, but you need to have a greater business goal which usually translates into a call to action.
Are you trying to increase your brand awareness? Grow your email list? Increase your perceived expertise in your field? Increase leads? Lead people to a product page? Make a sale? Lead people to another piece of content?
Always start with a clear goal. Not only will it help you reach those goals… it will also help you keep your article to the plumbline, making it easier to write.
Mistake #2: A Boring Headline
Remember AIDA, the copywriting formula? If you don’t, here’s a quick breakdown:
That’s the easiest copywriting framework you can follow. And it works wonders.
Start by grabbing your reader's attention, then create interest, then build desire, and call your reader to action.
You need to first start with attention before moving onto anything else. This means you need to start by creating an attention-grabbing headline. Go back to your goal. What do your readers want? Create a headline that makes it impossible for your readers to ignore.
Mistake #3: A Boring Introduction
The most important part of your article is your headline. The second most important part is your intro. You can lose your reader in the first paragraph, and especially the first sentence. Make it count.
Bonus Tip: Make your first sentence short. Short sentences and short words make it easier to read. And when your writing is easy to read, it helps keep your reader’s attention.
Mistake #4: Not Telling Your Readers Why They Should Keep Reading
Always remember the promise.
Don’t just start blabbing about something. Tell your readers exactly what they’ll get out of reading your article (especially in the intro).
Doing some copywriting practice will help you as a content writer, write better. When people are wanting to buy something, the seller needs to convince the potential buyer to hand over their cash. They do this by offering a promise of value: Quench your thirst by drinking this lemonade! You’ll feel great!
The same goes for content writers. You need to tell your reader how they’ll get value out of reading a few hundred or a few thousand words.
Why should they take the time to read your words? They’ve got a life. They’re busy. And they have a limited amount of time each and every day.
Convince them by telling them what’s in it for them (WIIFM).
If your article teaches people how to tie their shoes, then tell them, “By the end of this article, you’ll be able to tie your shoes with ease.
If your article will tell them a few key pieces of marketing information that can benefit their business, then tell them, “In this article, you’ll learn 3 marketing secrets that will change your entire business.”
The more specific, the better. For example, take the last promise and specify it, “You’ll learn 3 marketing secrets that will double your conversions with only 5 minutes of work.”
This promise is your article’s offer. An offer doesn’t just apply to selling products. Instead of convincing someone to hand over their cash, you’re asking for their precious time. Always remember the offer.
Mistake #5: Writing to a Group Rather Than a Single Person
Make it personal. The best writers in the world take their readers from their world in front of a book or computer or phone and teleport them into their world.
Making your article personal is critical. Forget groups. Forget the 3rd person. Write to 1 person. If you don’t, you’ll lose their attention.
Use the word “you”. It will work wonders.
Bonus Tip: Ask questions - it keeps your reader engaged, doesn’t it?
Mistake #6: Writing Huge Blocks of Text
Have you ever opened an article packed with thousands of words and no line breaks?
Did you feel like running away? There’s a reason for that.
Break it up!
Make your paragraphs short. Stick to writing paragraphs that are 4 lines or less. White space makes it easier for your readers.
Mistake #7: Forgetting a Call to Action
This is the biggest missed opportunity for content writers worldwide.
Remember AIDA. Attention, interest, desire, action.
Most people forget the final “A”. Don’t make this mistake. Every article should include a call to action at the bottom.
You may be fearful of sounding sales-y or pushy. Don’t worry. If you truly believe what you wrote is valuable to your reader, then your call to action is a simple way to offer even more value.
Your call to action doesn’t necessarily have to be a request to buy something. It could be as easy as “Follow us on Instagram”, “If you like this article, share it with your friends!”, or “Reach out to us today for a free consultation!”
There will always be a percentage of your audience that wants more of what you have to say or offer. Think of it this way… If you don’t offer a call to action, you’re doing a disservice to your audience.
Transform Your Readers with Your Words
Content marketing is powerful.
According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates nearly 3 times as many leads.
But… if you’re making these 7 writing mistakes, you’re wasting your time and money, while missing out on leads.
Content writers and marketing managers need to stop thinking of their content strategy as a necessary evil.
Rather than simply trying to hit a quota, they should look at their content as an opportunity to provide value to their audience, engage in a two-way relationship, and provide a launchpad for their prospects to receive even more value.
If you’re tired of seeing low click-throughs, high bounce rates, and poor engagement on your articles, then it’s time you partner with an organization that breathes content marketing.
As a content strategy leader, Rizen partners with brands across the US to create a content plan that works.
Whether you’re an established business looking to experience success with your marketing strategy, or you’re just getting started, we’ll build you a custom-tailored content strategy to reach your goals.
P.S. Want to learn the secrets behind creating content your customers crave? You can also check out our content strategy course on Udemy here!