Blog.

How to Grab Your Reader’s Attention

How to grab your readers’ attention is one of the most important content marketing lessons. Why?

No matter how brilliant your ideas are, you can’t even offer them to your prospect unless you’ve made her look in your direction first.

You have to get your prospect’s attention before you can turn her into a reader, let her know how wonderful you are, or sell her something.

Do I have your attention yet?

Good. Now I’ll show you how to get someone else’s.

Your reader can’t pay attention to everything

The brain is funny like that — in order to understand, the brain has to focus on specific information.

Attention helps us screen out the irrelevant and choose which information will enter, and stay, in our awareness. Our attention decides what to “pay attention to,” because human focus is limited, and we just can’t give our attention to everything.

Your reader’s minds are very selective. So we have to give them a reason to pay attention to our content instead of everything else out there they could be listening to.

There are many obstacles in the path to gaining your reader’s attention

Even if you have the best product, service, or information on the planet, it’s still difficult to get people to give you the time of day. Here are some common obstacles when learning to how grab readers’ attention:

  • The relentless proliferation of available products, services, and information
  • Increased and increasingly better competition
  • The multiplying methods of distribution
  • Buyer sophistication
  • Information overload
  • The desire for instant gratification

These are all roadblocks you face in the attention-getting game, so you’ve really got to be good at showing readers why their limited attention should be directed to you.

Try these 8 attention-grabbing techniques

Ready to strengthen your writing with attention-grabbing techniques?

These tips can supercharge your creativity so that prospects instantly see your content is worth their time.

1. Grab the reader’s attention in the first sentence

The first sentence of an article is almost like a subheadline, because it has a similar job. If your headline piqued a reader’s interest, that first sentence needs to maintain that interest.

It’s important to know your readers’ pain points, so that you can incorporate them into both your headline and opening paragraphs. Rather than lead with generic information they’d find in any article, highlight an aspect of your content that makes it unusual or different.

Make an interesting promise — such as practical ways to write articles fast without sacrificing quality — that you’ll fulfill for the reader if they check out the rest of your text. (Review the opening of this article as another example.)

2. Help them see what you see

You might be focusing on yourself when creating messages about your business, thinking that everyone sees things the way you do. But they don’t.

People won’t “hear” you, or pay attention, until they perceive what you perceive.

So you’ve got to make your position crystal clear — help them to see what you see, using storytelling, description, personal experiences, case studies, and anything that will put the prospect in the right position to understand your message.

3. Make it personal

When you make your writing personal, you make it important.

Personally interesting or perceptually meaningful information can grab attention, bring clarity, and help it slip right into your prospective client’s awareness.

You don’t have to do a lot of explaining to tell someone his house (or his hair) is on fire — because it’s so personal to him. You immediately get attention.

4. Use emotion

Emotion is a great way to bring clarity to your business messages while making them personal.

Emotion also comes with the triple bonus of adding clarity, giving clients a reason to talk about you and your business, and triggering the circuits in the brain that activate behavior and decisions — emotional benefits are much better at that than logic is.

5. Don’t take chances with attention

If you’re wondering how to grab readers’ attention, this is perhaps the most important concept to learn.

You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention, so don’t take chances with clever, cute, or insider language or visuals, which are often lost on people.

Don’t use inside jokes or industry terms, either, unless appropriate for narrow niche marketing. These tactics only tend to confuse audiences, if only for a few seconds, which is all it takes to lose them — and a confused mind does not pay attention.

6. Follow up with a strong second

Once you’ve managed to capture your reader’s attention, don’t waste it.

Getting your reader’s attention is like the first strike of a One-Two punch — if you don’t land the second part, you’re not going to knock them out (and I mean KO in the good way).

Make sure your second punch, the actual information or message for which you grabbed her attention in the first place, is worthwhile.

If it’s valuable, you’ve paved the way for easy entry into her attention with future conversation.

If it isn’t, it’ll be that much more difficult to capture her attention the next time, as your prospect’s brain has already filed your information under “not worth our attention.”

7. Use pictures to grab attention

Visual content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated.

Think of simple ways you can break up long blocks of text with images that give the reader a momentary break from your content. The trick is to make the images related to your topic, so while they pause from reading your words, you’ll still keep their attention.

If you start with an engaging image at the top of your content, you’ll immediately make your writing more dynamic and you can gradually add more images to the rest of your text, when appropriate.

8. Encourage questions from your readers

It might seem counterintuitive, but thought-provoking content keeps readers coming back to your site in the future. So, don’t be afraid of leaving your readers with some questions.

Although you want your writing to be thorough, you’ll have many opportunities in the future to dig deeper into topics that interest your readers.

Hint at subjects you might write about in the future based on their feedback or Q&As you might hold. When you give readers a way to be a part of your community, you have an opportunity to hold their attention over time, rather than for just a few minutes.

And that’s not only how you grab readers’ attention — that’s how you build the audience that builds your business.

Fields marked with an * are required

Want to understand the future of content marketing?
Get our free email series, The Killer and the Poet: