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:
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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):
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:
- State the fear (or cause of fear)
- Illustrate the fear
- 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?
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.
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:
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?
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:
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 action—the 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:
- Start with your strongest benefit.
- Show why your claim is credible (since the claim needs to be impressive/slightly unbelievable).
- 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:
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.
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.