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Suck Your Readers In: 4 Types of Openings for “Sticky” Content

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The headline is the most important part of your content.

That’s a fact.

What’s the second most important part?

That would be your introduction.

Think of it this way: Your headline compels people to click on your post, but your intro draws them in to actually read the post.

And if you’re sick of not getting a high level of engagement on your posts, this is likely one of the main causes.

Here’s the simplest way to illustrate the effect of introductions on your content’s performance:

  • Bad headline – Low traffic
  • Good headline, bad intro – High traffic, high bounce rate, low time on page
  • Good headline, good intro – High traffic, low bounce rate, high time on page

Always aim for that third scenario.

The sad fact is that most bloggers put very little effort into their introductions. They either quickly say what they’re writing about, or they end up going on about things that don’t entice the reader to read on.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you fall into that category. What matters is that just about all bloggers could benefit from improving their introductions.

To help you do that, I’m going to show you 4 of the best types of openings that you can use in your content. You can always use at least one of these for any post you create. 

1. Embrace the fear of failure

A great introduction needs to connect with the reader emotionally.

As any copywriter knows, emotions drive action. In this case, the action we want is for the reader to continue down the page.

Fear is one of the strongest motivating emotions, and people are willing to go to great lengths to prevent that fear from coming true.

Let’s look at a few examples, and then I’ll show you how to come up with your own.

Example #1 – Use a common fear: Here’s one of my own introductions:

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The first 4 paragraphs focus on a common scenario: putting in a lot of work on a project (like a product or piece of content) and then finally releasing it.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know how terrifying this can be. Entrepreneurs have sleepless nights worrying about failing.

What if they hear “crickets” when they release their project? What if no one cares?

Anyone in, or nearing, this sort of situation is going to read the rest of the introduction at the very least.

Quickly look at that final line in the screenshot: “there is a solution…”

You use fear to grab your readers’ attention, but then you need to transition that into a solution that they will achieve by taking action.

Example #2 – Does your reader feel like a failure? This one is going to sound kind of mean, but it’s effective.

If your reader already feels like a failure, all you need to do is describe their biggest problem, evoking their fear of failure.

Here’s an example from a Smart Blogger post:

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Here, Carol Tice starts by calling out bloggers with low traffic and loyal subscribers.

If you’re a reader of that post in that situation, it hurts to read it.

You start thinking about your low number of readers and get a sinking feeling that you will never get many more.

But you feel that only until Tice offers a solution, which is the whole point of her post.

How to write your own fear-inspired introduction: This type of opening is not only effective but also fairly simple to write.

Create it in three steps:

  1. State the fear of failure (or cause of fear) – Do this in a straightforward manner. In my example, the fear was not knowing what would happen when a product was launched.
  2. Illustrate the fear – If you can describe the fear and make the reader picture it, do it. Sometimes it’s simple. The image of “crickets” is all I needed to do to make readers picture no customers, signups, or attention after the release of their product.
  3. Transition to a solution – The whole point of hooking in a reader with fear is to give them the incentive to read your content. Your content needs to offer a solution to their fear. Write about how your content will help them.

That’s all there is to it. You can start with a few notes for each part and then combine them together.

2. No one wants to be left behind

There are many ways to incorporate fear into your openings.

Fear of failure is a big one, but there’s another big fear you should be aware of: the fear of missing out.

It’s why many people buy lottery tickets, especially as a group. They don’t want to be the one who misses out if the group miraculously wins.

When it comes to most content, the fear of missing out can be applied in a few ways:

  • Fear of being left behind – In niches like SEO, if you don’t keep up with the latest information, you can become obsolete.
  • Fear of missing out on fun – No one wants to miss out on a fun event or product.
  • Fear of missing out on an opportunity – If something is only available or useful for a limited time (like content on certain topics), people will be more interested than they would be if it was always useful.

Here’s an example (note the two parts boxed in red):

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Just like in type #1, we use a similar 3-step process.

The first step is prompting the fear, which the first box begins to do. It mentions that some types of content are better than others.

In this case, marketers don’t want to miss out on the best tactics because it means they won’t get great results.

In the following two paragraphs, I amplify that fear. I explain that the content that most marketers produce isn’t as great as they think it is and that they might be closer to an average marketer.

The second box alludes to the solution—certain types of content that are guaranteed to outperform what average marketers are making. I go on to expand on my solution before starting the post.

Again, it’s the same 3-step process:

  1. State the fear (or cause of fear)
  2. Illustrate the fear
  3. Transition to your solution

3. Use AIDA to captivate visitors

You may have heard of AIDA before.

It’s one of the most famous copywriting formulas there is because it just plain works. It’s incredibly versatile, and we can apply it to our openings as well.

First, what does AIDA stand for?

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

Typically, you’ll address each point in that order.

To start off, you need to grab the attention of your readers. How do you do that? Typically with a bold or surprising claim.

For example, in a post on Backlinko, Brian Dean said that he analyzed over 1 million search results. That’s a lot and pretty intriguing to most SEOs reading the post.

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If you can use numbers—great, but they’re not required. The only goal here is to catch the attention of your reader. It may be a sentence or two that seem unrelated at first to your topic.

Check out this intro from one of Jon Morrow’s best posts:

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The post is about being a better blogger, but you wouldn’t know it from that opening.

However, he grabs your attention by doing something out of the ordinary: telling you (in great detail) that he’s going to tell you something you’re not going to like.

Even though I know what’s coming (since I’ve read it before), I still have that feeling of needing to know what comes next.

Then, we move on to interest.

Interest is similar to attention, and you certainly need to maintain attention, but this is where you tie your attention-grabbing introduction to the subject of the post.

In Brian’s article about SEO ranking factors, he included two parts to accomplish this:

Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?

And…

With the help of Eric Van Buskirk and our data partners, we uncovered some interesting findings.

Brian knows that his readers want to know which ranking factors are most important. However, he doesn’t give away all the answers quite yet, saying instead they uncovered some “interesting findings.”

Next, it’s time to move on to desire.

This is where you make it really clear why your reader should care about your content, if they didn’t already know that.

Here’s an example from one of my posts:

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Here, I make it clear that if a reader follows my advice in the post, they could double their writing speed.

Remember that your reader is already interested at this point. To induce desire, all you need to do is make the benefits of your content clear.

Now, what about actionthe last part of the formula?

You can interpret and use it in two ways.

First, you could get a reader to take an action right at the end of your introduction. Maybe you want them to get a pen and paper or open a spreadsheet. Or maybe you want them to answer a question and come back to it at the end.

If this applies, go for it.

The action in this formula typically refers to the end of the content, though. So, in your conclusion, you should make it clear how a reader is supposed to apply what you just taught them.

4. Show me the money (benefit first)

Some readers just absolutely hate stories of any kind.

They want you to get to the point and do it fast.

If your audience has a lot of readers like that, consider starting off with the benefit of your content. But not just any benefit—the biggest one.

This is how you will attract attention, and if the benefit you promise is big enough, they will invest their time to read through your content.

For example, you could start an article about SEO basics by saying:

If you learn the basics of SEO, you could be making $ 3,000+ per month within 6 months.

Assuming you’ve got your audience right, they’ll be glad to dig a bit deeper to find out if your claim is true.

After that opening claim, you then want to expand on and back up your claim. To continue the example:

I know this because I’ve taught multiple students to do so. I myself am an SEO who makes over $ XXX,000 per month.

Now you have some credibility behind your solution.

Finally, you should close off your introduction by explaining how the reader will get to the solution.

In this case, something like this would work:

I’m going to show you the X SEO basics you need to know and then a step-by-step process to follow to start generating revenue.

At that point, most readers will be hooked.

To recap, the 3-step process for this type of opening is:

  1. Start with your strongest benefit.
  2. Show why your claim is credible (since the claim needs to be impressive/slightly unbelievable).
  3. Explain how you’ll help the reader achieve the benefit.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily have to look exactly like that as long as all the elements are covered.

Here’s an example of this type of opening from one of my posts:

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The sentence in the first box only implies the benefit (ranking as well as Quick Sprout). I’m counting on the reader to be familiar with my site.

Shortly after, I say that I’ll show the reader what they need to do if they want to rank like Quick Sprout. This is actually the 2nd and 3rd step all in one.

The claim is credible because I state that I’ll personally show them the solution. Of course, I’m credible in this situation since I’m the one who built the site up.

At the same time, I’ve explained that I’m going to show them what they need to do. I explain a bit more right after that part.

Don’t get hung up having a clear distinction between all parts of the opening—just make sure they are all covered in the right order.

Conclusion

Don’t put tons of hours into writing an amazing post and then just slap on a weak introduction.

If you do that, too many of your readers will never make it down to the content that has the value.

Use these 4 types of openings to craft introductions that basically force readers to give your content a chance.

From there, I hope your content delivers.

Now, I have a question for you. Have you seen any great introductions lately? If so, do you mind sharing them in a comment below?


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6 Ways to Get More Traffic to Your Webinars

Webinars are one of the ways, if not the best way, to convert traffic and subscribers into actual customers.

Even with a mediocre webinar, you can convert around 5% of your viewers into customers.

Very few other conversion tactics come even close to that.

Depending on how long you’ve followed my work, you may have seen any one of the many KISSmetrics‘ webinars.

The total number of attendees of the first 77 webinars at KISSmetrics was 74,381. And 16,394 of those converted. That’s a 22% conversion rate if you don’t want to do the math.

We had good webinars, but they weren’t anything that others couldn’t deliver.

Adobe reports a 19% conversion rate with webinars, and Buzzsumo says that 20% of their webinar attendees turn into paid customers.

If you search around, you’ll find many other businesses achieving similar results.

I’ve written before about creating high converting webinars.

But that leaves one problem: Where do you get the traffic (that turns into your viewers)?

I’ll admit, it’s not too difficult for businesses like mine. You may have seen that I hold regular webinars on NeilPatel.com:

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I have enough traffic to my blog that I get plenty of new webinar signups on a regular basis. Even if I didn’t do any extra work, I’d be fine.

But if you don’t have that traffic already, I can see why you’d be hesitant to hold webinars. After all, you don’t want to hold one with two people in the audience.

That’s where this post comes in. I’m going to show you 6 things you should do in order to get your webinar attendance to a solid level.

It might not be thousands right away, but it will give you a base to build on, and over time, if you keep doing the right thing, your audiences will grow.

Download this cheat sheet of 6 bonus ways to get more traffic to your webinars (Not included in The Content).

If you’re interested in getting more traffic to your webinars, read on… 

1. Start with the basics

If you’ve been doing any sort of marketing already, you need to start with your existing audience.

It’s cheaper and easier to convince your existing subscribers and readers than complete strangers to watch your webinar.

Let’s quickly walk through your options to make sure you don’t miss anything:

  • Your blog – You can create a dedicated post that announces your webinar so that any casual reader can see it (and those subscribed to your RSS feed)
  • Social media – Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or some other network, create a post promoting your webinar. Don’t stop there, though. Post multiple times leading up to the event.
  • Your email list – Your email list has your most active readers. This is a great place to get a lot of webinar signups. However, there’s much more to it than that, and I’ll get to it near the end of this post.
  • YouTube/Vimeo – You can create a promotional video for your webinar and post it on these major video sites. Obviously, it works best if you already have subscribers on the sites or are willing to pay to promote.

One common aspect of the above suggestions is to try to make your promo shareable.

For example, when I promote my webinars on social media, I usually create custom images:

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Not only do they get more attention, but they also get shared more.

If you create a custom video to promote the webinar, make it great. If you can get people sharing it, it can lead to thousands of views and hundreds of visits to your webinar signup page.

2. Re-design your website to focus on your webinars

Webinars are something you can’t half-commit to. You either go all in and make them your main focus or don’t do it at all.

Yes, you can test them by doing a few to start off, but if that trial run goes well, decide to commit (at least for a while).

When you commit, it’ll be worth it to spend extra time re-designing parts of your website to get your webinar offer in front of more of your readers.

The big opportunities are in your sidebar or content and your webinar landing page.

Start with the sidebar: Check out any blog post on NeilPatel.com when you get a chance.

You’ll see this attractive image in the sidebar (or something similar):

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This is one of 3 links to my webinar landing page.

These images were custom designed, but you can see that they’re not that complicated or expensive to make.

Spend a bit of time or money to get some really high quality images for your sidebar to drive traffic to your webinar from your blog posts.

Next, create a landing page: All webinars should have their own landing pages.

If you’re asking for webinar signups in a sidebar with a simple opt-in form, you’re missing out.

A good webinar is jam-packed with value, and there’s no way to explain it all in a small sidebar feature. Instead, you need a landing page where you can highlight the biggest benefits of attending the webinar:

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I took it a step further when I saw the power of webinars. If you look at the NeilPatel.com homepage, it’s actually a landing page for my webinar.

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All that organic traffic that arrives to my website from searches such as “Neil Patel” is presented with the webinar offer. I get a lot of extra signups this way.

3. Webinars make advertising highly viable

I, and most marketers, consider webinars a form of content.

The only difference is that webinars convert much higher than other types of content.

So, while you can definitely advertise content like blog posts and e-books on “cheaper” advertising networks like Facebook, you need to have a really effective sales funnel in place if you want to profit.

Webinars are different.

You can sell high-priced products with high profit margins through webinars at an incredible conversion rate.

Say you were selling a product priced at $ 300 with a $ 100 profit margin, and you managed to get a 10% conversion rate from your webinars. (That’s a pretty conservative example, by the way.)

That means you could spend $ 10 to acquire a single webinar viewer and still break even.

With a good landing page and a decently run AdWords campaign, you can convert visitors to webinar signups easily at the rate of over 30% (usually much more).

Accounting for 40% of signups not actually showing up for the event, you can still spend up to $ 1.8 per click if my math is indeed correct.

That’s not a hard target to hit on an expensive advertising network like AdWords, and you can easily achieve it on most others as well.

And remember, that’s a conservative case. If you have a really effective webinar, you could spend 3-4 times that and still profit.

So, while you probably don’t go too crazy advertising your other content, you can get a quick and healthy return advertising your webinars.

4. Encourage sharing with your promotion

People share content all the time.

Let me rephrase that…people share great content all the time.

The great thing about webinars is that your audience already likely values them higher than any written content you create.

And it’s generally true. They get an hour or so of your time to not only learn something valuable but also ask you questions live.

That means that people will share webinars.

Some will do this automatically, but others need prompting.

Start by making a thank-you page for your visitors after they register for the webinar.

On this page, you can put a lot of important information, but one of the elements should be a sharing section, complete with sharing buttons for all the major social networks.

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On top of that, when you send a confirmation email about the webinar, you can add another call to action to share it.

If your niche isn’t particularly social, provide a direct link to the registration page to share. Ask them to share it with their co-workers, employees, and friends.

5. Don’t send a single email

Email is very important to running successful webinars.

The worst thing you can do is send a single email to ask if anyone wants to subscribe and a single email to let them know when the webinar is (after they’ve signed up).

I’m going to divide this into 2 main subsections: pre-signup and post-signup.

Emailing before the signup: Here, you’re emailing subscribers on your existing email lists to get registrations.

There are a few key factors here:

  • Send more than one email
  • Be compelling
  • Split test (if possible)

Starting from the top, you need to plan ahead and send at least 2-3 emails in the weeks leading up to the webinar (if it’s not a frequent occurrence).

These emails should not just say “sign up for my webinar.”

Instead, approach them like any other serious piece of copy.

Here’s an example of a promotional email Tim Soulo of Ahrefs sent to his list:

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Notice that he came up not only with a good, benefit-driven headline but also with 3 more specific benefits that he knows his subscribers are interested in.

Just like any other good email would have, this one also has clear calls to action on their own lines.

Finally, he takes it one step further by limiting the number of viewers to 250 to leverage the power of scarcity.

If you send a single email, make it like this one.

If possible, treat your webinar like a product launch, and send a few emails beforehand to build anticipation (e.g., “we’ll be showing you soon how we do things behind the scenes—live…stay tuned”).

Emailing after the signup: These emails are just as important, if not more important, than the pre-signup emails.

You’ll never get 100% of people who signed up for your webinar to show up for it.

A decent chunk of them, say 20%, just plain can’t make it due to scheduling issues.

Then, another chunk will simply forget about the webinar. That’s usually another 20-40%.

You can reduce this percentage significantly by sending reminders about the webinar. An effective default schedule is:

  • 1 day before
  • The morning of
  • 1 hour before
  • Just as it’s starting

This ensures that very few people who sign up forget about it.

You can also follow Gael Breton’s lead and send a final email the day before to the rest of your list (that didn’t sign up) to see if they want to join at the last minute:

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6. Make use of your thank-you page

One final way that is really effective to get more webinar signups is to create a custom thank-you page for new email subscribers.

On top of your typical thank-you message for new email signups, you need to highlight your next webinar and include a call to action that lets them register for it.

This is something Tim Paige from LeadPages did with great success (example below):

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He was able to double the number of his webinar attendees by making this one simple change.

In addition, it’s great for starting a relationship because you’re giving away something of high value right away to your new subscribers.

Conclusion

I really hope that if you haven’t yet given webinars a try, you will now.

While you might be afraid you won’t have enough viewers, if you use the tactics in this post, you’ll be able to get 50-100 at a minimum.

That’s enough to get some practice with webinars and still make anywhere from 5-15 sales in most cases.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to use every single one of these tactics. Instead, pick a few that fit your business, and get really good at them.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with webinars and the most effective ways for you to drive traffic to them. Please share them in the comments below—I’ll be waiting!


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