insights

How to keep people reading your written content

How to keep people reading your written content
author
Peter-John Lewis

Too many businesses - in their blog posts, emails and other written content - lose their readers’ attention because they take too long to articulate their core message.

I recently saw the website of a large management consulting firm. An explanation at the top of the home page said:

As the global digital revolution takes hold, organisations are facing a business climate which is more competitive and more likely to be subject to disruptive change than at any time in modern history. Organisations today are facing business challenges and assessing opportunities that previously they may not have encountered or considered.

This was followed by many other, similar paragraphs until, way down the page below the fold, I finally learnt that the firm offers strategic reviews to assess their clients’ financial wellbeing.

This was the key message, but I wouldn’t have known if I’d stopped reading before the eighth paragraph.

In journalism, it’s called ‘burying the lead’ – with the ‘lead’ (traditionally spelled ‘lede’) being the story’s main idea or argument. The lead is almost always best stated, clearly, in the opening paragraph. If your lead isn’t the first thing a reader sees, you’ve buried it and are likely to lose their attention.

In digital marketing, burying the lead is an even bigger problem than in newspaper articles. Readers of websites, blogs, emails and social media updates have a lower tolerance to waffle than readers of print.

To engage your target audiences, and to hold their attention beyond the headline, state your primary message as quickly as you can. Make it clear and make it compelling.

Everything that follows in your written content item – such as quotes, examples and descriptions – should then support this main message.

Burying the lead gives the impression that your business lacks confidence or may even have something to hide. It also shows disrespect for your readers’ time and intelligence.

Being clear, from the first sentence, demonstrates that you’re confident – about your message, your product, your service and yourself.

 

Do you want to find out more about improving your business’ written content? Contact Momentum Connect to see how we can help.

How to keep people reading your written content
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