5 Psychological Copywriting Tips To Transform Your Content

5 Psychological Copywriting Tips To Transform Your Content

When I talk to people about copywriting, it always surprises me. Not that some people think I work in copyright law (I’m very used to that mix up), but that a lot of people don’t consider it as a skill that requires a lot of learning to do well.

In some cases, they’re right. If you have a natural inclination towards writing, you don’t have to go through training to do it professionally. But you should. Because copywriting is about much more than making words sound good on a page. It’s about understanding how the human mind works – how to get into the head of a reader and convince them to take the action you want them to – to buy, to call, to vote.

So with that in mind, I wanted to share some of my favourite copywriting tips with you.

 

Use The Active Voice

If you write in WordPress a lot, you might be used to seeing the sad face icon in Yoast pop up in your copy, labelling something as ‘wrong’. When you hover over it, it will then tell you you’ve used the passive voice, and suggest you use the active voice instead. The difference between the two in technical terms is small at best, but the effect can be very different. Let’s look at an example phrase:

 

The passive voice would be: “Some useful copywriting tips will be discussed in today’s presentation.”

Whereas the active voice would be: “This presentation discusses some useful tips to improve your copywriting”

 

Do you see the difference? Just by flipping from the passive to the active, you are creating copy that feels more alive, more real, and more… well, active! This in turn means you are more likely to inspire emotion and action in your reader and it makes your content more meaningful. If you’re not sure if you’re writing in the passive or active voice, try pasting it into the Hemmingway Editor online, and it will highlight all uses of the passive voice for you.

 

Repeat Your Core Message, But In Different Ways

You’ve probably heard the idea that you need to make contact with a prospect multiple times before they will be ready to buy from you. The same goes for your content. Instead of just saying your core message once, you should be repeating it multiple times within your copy. But mix it up a little – as you don’t want to come across as repetitive. For example, you might say ‘I’ll help you get found on Google’ is your core message, with ‘I’ll help improve your search rankings’, and ‘I can help your customers find you on Google’ woven in there as well. Psychologically it takes a few repetitions for the message to really sink into your reader’s heads. If you’re struggling to think of a way to achieve that, try this formula:

 

Tell the audience what you’re going to say.

Say it.

Tell them what you said.

 

It’s kind of like writing an essay in school – explain the points briefly in the intro, write the main message, and then summarise it in a conclusion. This way you have more of a chance of your core message being read and remembered.

 

Use Metaphors To Make Your Point

Take a minute and think for me. How often do you see on websites words like quality, powerful or reliable? Really they’re all words that everyone uses so much now that they have almost become meaningless. Honestly, who’s going to say that their product is not quality or reliable? So rather than rely on these overused words, try using metaphor instead.  So, if you want to talk about a super soft pillow, you say it’s like laying your head on a cloud. No one’s laid their head on a cloud, but you’re painting an image in people’s minds. Just be careful not to go overboard, or it might get silly. But when done properly. Using metaphor in your copy can evoke a lot of different emotions, and inspire confidence in your products. Don’t be afraid of metaphor – be bold. Tell customers your solutions have Zeus-like power, or the strength of a lion, instead of saying your solutions are innovative, powerful or high-quality.

 

Make Concrete Claims

This tip flows nicely from the one before, as it’s important to be able to back up any claims you make in your copy – both generic and bold ones. Those same phrases like affordable, reliable, and quality still don’t mean a lot, which means when you say ‘we’ll respond to you fast’ or ‘our customers love us’, you’re likely to get a lukewarm response. But if you say ‘we’ll respond within 23 hours’ or ‘our customers love us – or at least the 572 who left Google reviews do!’, people will be more likely to believe you. Use concrete claims to back up when you’re saying, and be specific where you can. This will encourage people to actually believe what you’re saying, instead of filing away in ‘heard it all before’.

 

‘Because’

This is one of my favourite points and frankly, it’s underused in a lot of copywriting because it toes the line of being ‘bad grammar’ (see my last blog for my opinion on that!). But the word because is very powerful, mainly because it gives a chance for you to justify yourself and your claims.

Let’s look at some data. In 1978, a group of scientists did a study to illustrate the effect of justifying things by using the phrase ‘because’. In the study they had a group of people lined up to use a photocopier, and 3 planted people who were going to try and cut in. Plant 1 says “Excuse me, I have 5 pages, may I use the photocopier first because I’m in a rush?”. Plant 2 says “Excuse me, I have 5 pages, may I use the photocopier first?”. And Plant 3 says “Excuse me, I have 5 pages, may I use the photocopier first because I have to make copies. So you’ve got one person in a rush, one person with no ‘because’, and one person who needs to make copies. Which is what photocopiers do, you know?

But here’s the thing. 94% of people agreed to let Plant 1 who was ‘in a rush’ to go ahead of them. 93% of people agreed to let Plant 3, who had a fluff reason of ‘making copies’, to go ahead of them. But only 60% of people agreed to let Plant 2, who gave no reason, go ahead. It just goes to show that even the flimsiest justifications will get a result. In your copy, this means using ‘because’ to tie in a reason, a secondary point or advantage to justify why the reader should do something.

 

I know all of this might seem like a lot – and it is. It’s not easy to get into the head of a customer and really understand what makes them tick, and then to use that to influence their actions. But with the right copywriter, you don’t have to worry about that. And I reckon I am one such copywriter. So if you like what you see and want to be able to use it in your own business, give me a call.

5 Psychological Copywriting Tips To Transform Your Content

When I talk to people about copywriting, it always surprises me. Not that some people think I work in copyright law (I’m very used to that mix up), but that a lot of people don’t consider it as a skill that requires a lot of learning to do well. In some cases, they’re...

Let’s Talk About ‘And’…

More specifically, let’s talk about how our whole view towards this innocent little word has been completely skewed by the school system, and how we can set this right. You see, today (March 4th), is National Grammar Day. So I would be remiss if I didn’t use it to...

6 Reasons You Should Hire A Copywriter This Year

Truth time. Was creating content on your to-do list for 2018? If it was, how much of it did you actually manage? Did you start that company blog and keep it going? Refresh that website, or write that fantastic e-book that’s in...

What Is PAS, And Why Do You Need It In Your Copy?

Copywriting isn’t a paint-by-numbers process (sorry folks!). There is no secret formula for you to follow to produce magical, compelling copy just by filling in the blanks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t formula’s out there that can help you. To give you a...

What Is Cornerstone Content (And Why Does It Matter)?

Imagine for a second that a really important visitor has arrived on your website. And I mean REALLY important – someone who could mean the difference between success and failure for your business. But this person has no idea what you do, and no time to go poking...
Let’s Talk About ‘And’…

Let’s Talk About ‘And’…

More specifically, let’s talk about how our whole view towards this innocent little word has been completely skewed by the school system, and how we can set this right.

You see, today (March 4th), is National Grammar Day. So I would be remiss if I didn’t use it to tackle my biggest pet hate. The ultimate. The Big One. Starting sentences with conjunctions.

Specifically, with ‘and’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against it. In fact, I’m actively pro-starting-sentences-with-and. And yet, I have had customers come to me in the past and inform me that I ‘must not be a very good copywriter’ because I ‘don’t know this simple grammatical rule – you can’t start a sentence with and.’

And I pause.

And I grit my teeth.

And I find myself having to defend my abilities as a professional word-creator person. Which is not how I wanted to spend my Monday morning thank-you-very-much. So in honour of National Grammar Day, I’m going to explain why it’s perfectly acceptable to start sentences with prepositions, according to the keepers of the English language themselves, the OED.

What is a Conjunction?

Let’s start with the basics, because where else would you begin than at the beginning? A conjunction is  broadly known as a ‘connecting word’. Definitionally, conjunctions are words like and, but, because, while, until, although or if.  All of those are conjunctions, and they’re used to link sentences, clauses, phrases or other words. A bit like I did there. But there are two types of conjunction, and I’ve even got some wonderful screenshots from the OED to show them in action.

  • A coordinating conjunction is one that joins elements of a sentence that are equally important. This is where and, but, for, nor, so, and yet all live. They work like this:

 

 

  • A subordinating conjunction links the main clause of a sentence to a subordinate one. This basically means that the second half of the sentence doesn’t mean anything on its own – it needs the main clause to make sense. So words like until, unless, since, if and although.

 

What Are The Rules?

 

Pretty much exactly what’s in the bullet points above. A coordinating conjunction is used when both clauses in the sentence have equal value, and a subordination conjunction is used when the clauses are unequal. With me so far?

Good.

But if you look at the example of subordinating conjunctions a bit closer, you’ll see that the conjunction is actually at the beginning of the sentence, which is where it’s perfectly right in being, and where it’s breaking no rules. Because there is absolutely no rule about not starting a sentence with a conjunction, as long as the sentence still makes sense.

 

The Root Of The Problem

Here we get to the root of the problem. All through school, from the moment we pick up a pen, you have been taught that you can’t start a sentence with ‘and’. You must not. It’s against the rules and a big no-no. You’ll fail at life if you do this.

Which is absolute rubbish. For a start, English is such a flexible and quickly-evolving language that a rule like that wouldn’t stand a chance. But more importantly, starting a sentence with ‘and’ is a stylistic choice, not a grammatical one.

But there is a good reason you’re taught it in schools. It just has nothing to do with grammar. It’s because when you were 5 years old, every time you wanted to tell a story, you started your sentences with ‘and’. Every. Single. One. Anyone who’s spent 5 minutes asking a child how their day at school was knows how true this is.

‘I went into school early. And Alfie was there because his mummy had work. And then Hannah showed up. And then the bell rang so we went in. And then we had maths…’

And so on. This is bad storytelling, bad communication and all round just not that great to listen to. But it’s the way children process the world. To break the habit and force them to actively think about the way they told stories and structured sentences, teachers had the brilliant idea of telling them that starting a sentence with ‘and’ was against the rules. And they stuck to it. And it works. When children stop starting all their sentences with ‘and’, they can start to really think about what they’re trying to say and how to structure it in a linear way. It’s a great tool for developing language.

But you’re a grown up, perfectly capable of all that and more besides. And yet we still hold on to the belief that starting a sentence with ‘and’ is against the rules.

Why Start Sentences With A Conjunction?

 

I want to answer this in the form of a challenge. Go out and find someone to have a conversation with. A co-worker, a friend, a family member, a complete stranger. Hell even your dog would work here. Have a conversation with them about anything in the world. Tell them about your day, or this cool thing you learned last week. Ask them about their plans for the weekend, or just talk about the weather. I am willing to bet cold hard cash that you can’t make it through that conversation without using a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence.

Because here’s the thing. It’s natural to start sentences with and, but and because. It’s a pattern that suits our speech, the way our minds work and the way we well stories. If you’re writing copy with the aim of being friendly, familiar, comforting or even like a human being wrote it, then starting sentences with ‘and’ actually helps you achieve that goal.

So, go off into the world in the knowledge that you can use ‘and’, or any other conjunction at the beginning of any sentence you choose, without breaking any rules whatsoever.

Just don’t go overboard, otherwise people might start thinking your business is secretly run by a 5-year old in a tiny suit, just like Boss Baby.

To find out more about what I do, check out my copywriting services or just get in touch and arrange a chat over coffee and biscuits.

What Is PAS, And Why Do You Need It In Your Copy?

What Is PAS, And Why Do You Need It In Your Copy?

Copywriting isn’t a paint-by-numbers process (sorry folks!). There is no secret formula for you to follow to produce magical, compelling copy just by filling in the blanks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t formula’s out there that can help you. To give you a starting point, and an idea of how to position and craft your content to do the heavy lifting for you. That’s what’s amazing about copywriting. There’s always something new to explore, and while many businesses focus on technology, copywriting is still all about people. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about the PAS formula of copywriting, and how it can help you understand how to connect with your customers.

Problem 

This is the first and most important element of any copywriting job. Start with the problem (that’s what the P is for). And not your problem – your customer’s problem. If you’re not sure what that is, start with your solution and work backwards, until you understand how your product or service makes your customers life better. Understanding the problem your customers face is critical to writing good copy – good here meaning’ something that gets a response’. Once you know what that problem is, describe it as vividly as you can without simple ‘telling’ them what the problem is. Paint them a picture with words, describing their situation and making them empathise with it.

 

Agitate

Once you have them on the hook and invested in finding the solution to their problem, it’s time to wiggle the fish hooks a bit. The next stage ins PAS stands for ‘Agitate’, and this is where you make the pain point more painful. Hammer home what the effect of the problems is, and why it’s a problem at all. Remind them of how difficult it is, and how much they wish it could be different. The trick here is to make sure you don’t agitate too much. Don’t wallow in the pain here. Instead choose a few carefully crafted sentences to make it hit home, then show them the light at the end of the tunnel.

Solution

S of course stands for ‘Solution’, and this is where you show your reader how you can help. How you can jump in and make everything better for them. Here, you reveal your solution, and how it works to take away that pain caused by the problem. But don’t turn it into a big long sales pitch. Instead, stay focused on the advantages and give them just enough information to want to reach out and find out more.

 

And For Good Measure…

Add in some proof! Nothing convinces prospects that your solution works more than real proof. This will usually be in the form of a testimonial or quote, but can be really powerful if put in the right place within your copy.

  

See PAS In Action 

Of course, this can all be a bit difficult to imagine if you’re not used to writing in it. So let’s look at a practical example. This is some basic PAS driven copy for a fictional mattress company, broken down into parts so you can see what it looks like:

Problem: When was the last time you had a really good, deep night’s sleep? You know, the kind where you wake up feeling refreshed, invigorated and genuinely excited to get out of bed? 

Agitation: A bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling like someone stuffed your skull full of cotton wool and nails, then gave it a good shake. You can’t concentrate, you feel irritable, and no amount of coffee seems to clear the fog and wake you up.

Solution: If this sounds like your normal day, then you need to know about our new therapeutic mattress. You won’t be sleeping, you’ll be floating on a soft, woolly cloud, with perfect support all night long.

Remember, no one likes being sold to. The PAS formula exists to work around the direct selling route many businesses take, and instead help you focus on the emotions around the buying process for your customers. Using the PAS system, you will see higher conversion rates and a bigger buy-in – with customers who ready your content thinking ‘that’s exactly how I feel!’. If you’re not sure how to use the PAS formula in your content, we’d love to help. Just get in touch to chat with us about it today.

5 Psychological Copywriting Tips To Transform Your Content

When I talk to people about copywriting, it always surprises me. Not that some people think I work in copyright law (I’m very used to that mix up), but that a lot of people don’t consider it as a skill that requires a lot of learning to do well. In some cases, they’re...

Let’s Talk About ‘And’…

More specifically, let’s talk about how our whole view towards this innocent little word has been completely skewed by the school system, and how we can set this right. You see, today (March 4th), is National Grammar Day. So I would be remiss if I didn’t use it to...

6 Reasons You Should Hire A Copywriter This Year

Truth time. Was creating content on your to-do list for 2018? If it was, how much of it did you actually manage? Did you start that company blog and keep it going? Refresh that website, or write that fantastic e-book that’s in...

What Is PAS, And Why Do You Need It In Your Copy?

Copywriting isn’t a paint-by-numbers process (sorry folks!). There is no secret formula for you to follow to produce magical, compelling copy just by filling in the blanks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t formula’s out there that can help you. To give you a...

What Is Cornerstone Content (And Why Does It Matter)?

Imagine for a second that a really important visitor has arrived on your website. And I mean REALLY important – someone who could mean the difference between success and failure for your business. But this person has no idea what you do, and no time to go poking...
What Is Cornerstone Content (And Why Does It Matter)?

What Is Cornerstone Content (And Why Does It Matter)?

Imagine for a second that a really important visitor has arrived on your website. And I mean REALLY important – someone who could mean the difference between success and failure for your business. But this person has no idea what you do, and no time to go poking around your website, reading all of your different pages and blog posts. So instead, they pick up the phone and demand to know what you do. What do you tell them?   Odds are, you’ll explain by giving them the essentials of your business, what you do, how you help your customers and why you perfectly meet their needs. Right? And you’ll probably want to put on your best confident tone, and in the most compelling fashion you can, given what riding on this deal.   That’s what cornerstone content is, and that’s exactly why you should be creating it.  

So What Is Cornerstone Content?

  Going by the dictionary definition (because we love a good dictionary), a cornerstone is: ‘An important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based’. So in the real world, a cornerstone is that really important, critical thing that holds everything together. In the content world, cornerstone has a slightly different meaning. According to Yoast (the go to SEO plugin people), cornerstone content is:   “Cornerstone content pieces are those articles on your website you’re most proud of. They reflect your business, communicate your mission and are extremely well written. These are the articles you would like to rank high in the search engines. Cornerstone articles are usually explainers; these articles combine insights from different blog posts.”   So basically, a cornerstone article is a long, meaty piece of content that explains what your business does and how it helps your customers. It’s your flagship piece of content to direct people who are new to your business to. It could be a tutorial, an article about the benefits of the thing you do, or just a walkthrough of how to do something. We’ve written some great ones for clients about how to set up certain kinds of businesses, how to write cashflow forecasts and more. Whatever it is, your cornerstone content should cover something that’s basic, essential, indispensable and the main foundation of all that you do.   It’s as simple as that. Pour what you do, why you do it and why it benefits your customers onto a page, and you’ve got yourself some bona fide cornerstone content.  

Why Should I Write Cornerstone Content?

  If you’re coming from an SEO perspective because Google really wants you to write it! In fact, if you’re using WordPress or any other mainstream website, there is a little check box on the post pages that you can tick to say, ‘this is cornerstone content’. Clicking that makes it an actual page in itself – not just another blog post – and signals to Google that you are invested in your website and providing information. It also helps you with your keywords. It can be hard to rank for some of the more popular search terms, and cornerstone content helps you be more competitive online. Marking such an article as cornerstone means you are signalling to Google which of your articles is most important, and help it understand where to place you in the rankings. It also provides you with an internal linking system – yet another way of boosting your SEO.   If you’re coming from a user’s perspective – it’s all about giving information. Potential buyers want to know as much about you as they can before they contact you, and it’s your job to provide that information. Cornerstone content allows you to really explore the issues your services solve and explain things to your customers. This means not focussing on getting people to buy your products and services – that’s what your web pages are for. It should be focussing on providing information and solving problems. If you’re willing to give out information for free, you will see huge results.   Every business should have at least one piece of cornerstone content on their website. One essential page that explains the single most common issues your clients face, and provide them with the solutions and information they need. But it can be a really, really time-consuming thing to write. Your average piece of cornerstone content is between 1000 and 6000 words long, which is a significant time investment in terms of writing. Many business owners are too busy running their business to actually create it. That’s where I come in. I work with businesses to create those essential cornerstone pieces for them, so that they can spend their valuable time doing their job, and still see the benefits of cornerstone content. For more information, you can view our packages here or get in touch.   

5 Psychological Copywriting Tips To Transform Your Content

When I talk to people about copywriting, it always surprises me. Not that some people think I work in copyright law (I’m very used to that mix up), but that a lot of people don’t consider it as a skill that requires a lot of learning to do well. In some cases, they’re...

Let’s Talk About ‘And’…

More specifically, let’s talk about how our whole view towards this innocent little word has been completely skewed by the school system, and how we can set this right. You see, today (March 4th), is National Grammar Day. So I would be remiss if I didn’t use it to...

6 Reasons You Should Hire A Copywriter This Year

Truth time. Was creating content on your to-do list for 2018? If it was, how much of it did you actually manage? Did you start that company blog and keep it going? Refresh that website, or write that fantastic e-book that’s in...

What Is PAS, And Why Do You Need It In Your Copy?

Copywriting isn’t a paint-by-numbers process (sorry folks!). There is no secret formula for you to follow to produce magical, compelling copy just by filling in the blanks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t formula’s out there that can help you. To give you a...

What Is Cornerstone Content (And Why Does It Matter)?

Imagine for a second that a really important visitor has arrived on your website. And I mean REALLY important – someone who could mean the difference between success and failure for your business. But this person has no idea what you do, and no time to go poking...
7 Reasons Your Business Should Be Blogging

7 Reasons Your Business Should Be Blogging

Every business should be blogging.   There really isn’t a question about it anymore. Blogging isn’t some new-fangled form of marketing with no proof behind it. They’re been around a fair while, and they’re here to stay. By now, all the savvy businesses are blogging regularly about what they do, and many others are hovering on the fence, not sure whether they can keep up with the commitment. But if you’re one of the few who doesn’t see the value in it, I have 9 reasons you should be giving blogging the old college try.  
  1. 60% Of Marketers Say Blogs Are Their Top Inbound Marketing Priority
  Creating blog content is becoming more and more important, as marketing companies realise it is fuel for everything they do. Without a solid bank of content, there is nothing to share on social media, nothing to hook in readers and make them click on newsletter links, and nothing to fall back on when they’re talking about their business. Blogs are the foundation of any solid marketing strategy.  
  1. 80% Of Companies Consider Their Blogs ‘Useful’, ‘Important’ Or ‘Critical’
  Blog content isn’t just useful for social media. Your blogs are a way of communicating with your prospects and your clients, and a way of sharing ideas, information and yes, even selling to them. That’s why so many people think they are important. For some businesses, content is the lifeblood that keeps them going, while in others it’s a convenient marketing tool that backs up everything they say in their other messaging.  
  1. Once You Write 21-54 Blog Posts, Blog Traffic Generation Increases By Up To 30%
  It’s true what they (I mean we) say, you’ve got to keep it up! So many companies blog for a little while, and then they run out of time, or motivation, and they stop. 9 times out of 10, they stop before they’ve managed to hit that critical mass of blogs, between 21 and 54. But the thing is, when you have that much content on your site, Google starts to take notice. And that’s when the rankings start to climb, the traffic starts to increase and your blogs can even help with your direct sales. So don’t give up, whatever you do!  
  1. Small Businesses Who Blog Get 126% More Lead Growth Than Those Who Don’t
  Small businesses have to fight for every lead and every prospect that comes their way. That takes up a lot of time and energy, and sometimes spreads the owner pretty thing. But one thing that takes up minimal time and provides maximum results is blogging. A regular blog will increase your online visibility and send your lead growth through the ceiling. There’s no downside there.  
  1. 346 Million People Read Blogs All Over The World
  People read blogs. You’re reading one now. Blogs are the things that people read to learn, to better themselves, to research and even to kill some time before the day ends. Whatever the reason, 346 million people worldwide read blogs on a regular basis. And if they’re not reading yours, they’re reading your competitors.  
  1. Websites With A Blog Tend To Have 434% More Indexed Pages
  Google loves content. And Google indexes all of the pages on your website, and gives them a ranking. So it makes sense that the more content you have, the more pages you have, and therefore the more pages available to be indexed. And the more pages you have indexed with Google, the more likely you are to come up in a search. Blogs are a great way of creating indexable pages for your website without having to constantly update your web copy.  
  1. Blogs Have Been Rated As One Of The Top Five Most Trusted Sources For Information Online
  This is what I think is one of the most important reasons for businesses to blog. Blogs are ranked up there as one of the most trusted resources for information on the internet. That means that when people want information, to research products and services, they turn to blogs to find the answers. Blogs allow you to present that information to prospects and convince them that you’re the right person for the job – without being overtly salesy about it.   If you’re not blogging yet, you should be. No matter what industry you’re in, there are people out there who want to know about what you do. Rather than assuming no one else in your sector will give them what they want, you need to make sure you are there when they ask those questions. Get yourself out there as a source of information enough, and you will be the first person they think of when they’re ready to buy.   But blogging takes time and energy, and a lot of business owners just can’t manage it. That’s ok – that’s what people like us are here for. All we do, all day every day is write blogs for businesses like yours. We help support your marketing efforts, get you found online and provide the information your customers need to make their buying decisions. Our packages start from just £75 a month – so why not give blogging a try? Find out more about our services here, or just give us a call to arrange a chat.  

5 Psychological Copywriting Tips To Transform Your Content

When I talk to people about copywriting, it always surprises me. Not that some people think I work in copyright law (I’m very used to that mix up), but that a lot of people don’t consider it as a skill that requires a lot of learning to do well. In some cases, they’re...

Let’s Talk About ‘And’…

More specifically, let’s talk about how our whole view towards this innocent little word has been completely skewed by the school system, and how we can set this right. You see, today (March 4th), is National Grammar Day. So I would be remiss if I didn’t use it to...

6 Reasons You Should Hire A Copywriter This Year

Truth time. Was creating content on your to-do list for 2018? If it was, how much of it did you actually manage? Did you start that company blog and keep it going? Refresh that website, or write that fantastic e-book that’s in...

What Is PAS, And Why Do You Need It In Your Copy?

Copywriting isn’t a paint-by-numbers process (sorry folks!). There is no secret formula for you to follow to produce magical, compelling copy just by filling in the blanks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t formula’s out there that can help you. To give you a...

What Is Cornerstone Content (And Why Does It Matter)?

Imagine for a second that a really important visitor has arrived on your website. And I mean REALLY important – someone who could mean the difference between success and failure for your business. But this person has no idea what you do, and no time to go poking...
The F Word (And Why Your Content Needs More F’s)

The F Word (And Why Your Content Needs More F’s)

Relax, I’m not here to deliver some big sermon on swearing, or tell you that you need to pump your copy full of expletives in order to be noticed. Nothing like that. Today, I want to talk about a whole different type of ‘F’. You see, people don’t read in straight lines on the internet. They don’t go from left to right, reading every single word in the line before going down to the next line. Instead, we read in a distinct ‘F’ pattern – and you should be using that to design your website and its content.  

What Is The ‘F‘ Pattern?

  To sum it up, the ‘F’ pattern is the most common eye scanning pattern of people reading blocks of content online. To go a bit deeper (because you didn’t come here for summaries), it’s how your users read your content. In just a few seconds, their eyes whizz across your content in a distinct F pattern. We know this because there have been studies done using heat mapping, which shows us exactly where readers eyes go, and how long they stay there. Honestly, it’s pretty cool. It’s made up of 3 components:  
  • Users read in a horizontal movement first across the upper part of the content area. This forms the top bar of the F.
 
  • Next, they scan in a vertical line down the left-hand side of the screen, looking for headings and points of interest in the paragraphs initial few sentences. When they find something they like they read across in a second horizontal movement, typically covering a shorter area than the previous one. This is the second, lower bar of the F.
 
  • Finally, the users scan the content’s left side in another vertical movement and scan across the full lines when they find something interesting, in smaller, off shooting F’s.
  For more visual people, it looks like this:     It’s pretty much the ‘go to’ layout choice for text-heavy websites, like blogs and news sites. So if any of your pages are a bit text heavy, then the F pattern is perfect. It’s also the most comfortable layout for Western readers, who have been reading top to bottom, left to right their entire lives.  

How To Use The F Pattern In Your Content

Prioritize Your Content – When you’re creating a page or post, pick out your 3 most important pieces of information, and make sure they fit into that reading line. Once you’ve identified what you consider important and what your users will be most interested in, it’s simply a matter of making sure they hit those ‘hot spots’.   Set Initial Expectations – Your first two paragraphs are the most important – so get your key messages at the top. On pages, make sure your important content is at the top of the page, level with the navigation bar if you can. From there, use the F pattern to place your sub headings and other important areas.   Design For Scanning, Not Reading – Too many people write content assuming they’re going to be read word for word. With so many pressures on our time, people tend to speed read most things, which is code for scanning. So rather than hope you’re the exception, design your pages and content for scanning. Start your paragraphs with enticing keywords to catch the attention of time poor readers. Cover only one idea per paragraph, and use bullet points regularly. Make your content as easy to san as possible.   Utilise Your Side Bar – Sidebars exist to get users involved on a deeper level. So use it! Feature anything you want users to see in this side bar – such as a list of ‘related articles’, a search function to help people find specific things, or a social media widget.   And there you have it. If you want more engagement, you need more F’s. And if you’re not sure how to structure your content to fit that pattern, then call someone who does. At Eleven Eight, we specialise in helping businesses create compelling and engaging content, which means we know a little something about reader psychology! To find out more, just get in touch with us, or book a consultation here.   Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to drop a few ‘F’ bombs in your content when they’re needed too!

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