Great copy deserves a sequel…

Apr 22, 2016

There is far more involved in producing effective content for your website, blog or newsletter than merely adding the right keywords and phrases. While optimisation is important to get noticed in the first place, if you want to turn ‘notice’ into ‘attention’ you must add a little bit more thought to your work. To encourage an action as a result of your message; or to influence an opinion in your reader’s mind, your copy must engage, inform, invite or maybe even evoke emotion.

Imagine going to see the latest action thriller, the final film in the trilogy (advertised to the hilt with all the thrills and spills of car chases, explosions, and special effects) only to find a storyline lifted from a Mills and Boon novel. Not what it said on the tin and not what you were looking forward to seeing? Often the highly optimised copy that PPC and SEO attract can be equally disappointing (if less dramatically so) and can fail to deliver what the keywords promised.

So the real ‘key’ is, having won your readers ‘notice’, to grab their ‘attention’ with well-written copy that delivers a strong message while building interest and possibly even incorporating a ‘call to action’. So the next time you write copy, make sure you leave your readers clicking on the ‘act now’ button, turning the page, subscribing for more, or eagerly waiting for the next instalment.


Four things to consider when building engagement:

1: Connection: Whatever your business or the message that you want to share 'your audience will always matter more'. Think about their hopes, fears, and values. Craft your story around issues that really matter to them, themes they will identify with and, most of all, values that they will care about.

Unless there is a message or some sort of meaning that your readers can connect with (on a human level) it will not have any impact at all. Think about the brands that you love and the way their stories make you feel.

2: Intrigue: A great place to start a story is often in the middle or at a moment of drama in the narrative. If you did a deal with Google make that the hook and work backwards; or namedrop a celebrity then retell the lead up to the endorsement; maybe you came back from the brink, were inspired by a tragedy, changed the face of your marketplace, created a revolution or simply made a customer’s dream come true.

We are curious by nature; it is in our DNA, and it is why stories have kept the world turning for millennia. See if you can create a sense of anticipation, layout a treasure map to follow or involve your audience in a ‘need to know’ scenario. Always finish with a strong conclusion, but subtly leave them wanting more…

3: Heroes: Every good story needs a hero! It can be an underdog come good, a brave act that saves the day, the customer whose life was changed or an act of kindness from a passing stranger. No one is so self-secure, confident or obsessed with themselves that they don’t look for inspiration in others. So, a key element of engagement in storytelling is to introduce your reader to people that they can identify with and actions they can aspire to engage with or emulate.

The most popular stories on the planet are full of celebrity lives, amazing exploits, everyday human interest and tales of survival against the odds.

4: Attractive: Make your story real and relevant by carefully crafting its content. Wherever possible, write ‘in the moment’ to make the person reading it feel like they were actually there, witnessing the event. Don’t use exponentially exorbitant expressions just for the sake of it (wink), but don’t use overly common and boring words either. Try to create a flowing, interesting narrative that matches your passion and enthusiasm for your story. And remember, the best way to portray honesty is simply by being honest!

A sneaky Ninja Trick for colouring your copy is to write it in full and then, as you read it back, right-click a few ordinary words and replace them with more creative synonyms. But don’t overdo it!

Category: Storytelling

About The Author

Martin Gladish