Does Learning That Each Post Barely Lives An Average Of 10 Seconds Defeat You?

In our journey to become better bloggers, we have experienced disappointment more than once, and yes, it hurts every time.

Like all writers in our world of “content is marketing,” we believed that if we carefully planned our topics and provided valuable information that viewers would find value and read to the end. But they didn’t. Sometimes, in fact, they barely broke through the first sentence. Like Albert Einstein came to E=MC2 on a chalkboard, we developed our own equation: 0 Readers = a blog with all facts and no personality.

Our world is constantly in fast-forward. If you do not instantly grab people’s attention, they will pass you by as they skip from post to post, blissfully unaware of your existence. Good writers have high integrity in the content they produce. Great writers know how to command attention with humanistic words and create excellent content at the same time. But veteran writers create trends of their own, hypnotizing readers with words so interesting and different that people just can’t click away.

So how do writers go from good to great to veteran and powerful?

Follow These Simple Guidelines To Learn How

The 5 Second Make-or-Beak Moment

The majority of readers decide whether or not your content is worth reading based purely on your headline. They scan it, subconsciously glossing over the words and having a gut-level reaction.

In fact, a really good headline can spike your traffic by 500%, whereas a boring one may very well ensure that your post will never get read, which is why many great posts are buried with other perhaps perfectly good writing.

Since you only have seconds to make an impression, you have to trigger an anchor that’s already in place.

Use Power Words

Not all words are created equal; some are more persuasive than others.

According to research performed by Gregory Ciotti, a very influential marketer and the author of Sparring Mind, there are a few extremely persuasive words in English; you, free, because, and instantly hold more sway over our decision-making process than others.

Understanding why these words are persuasive will be immensely helpful when you are creating the most eye-catching titles.

The word “You”: The value of this word comes as no surprise, as it puts the person you are engaging with in the spotlight, which grants him or her an immediate sense of importance. That’s because it is not actually the word you that has the power of invoking the self —but the name it represents.

As it turns out, while people might like the word you, it is guaranteed that they love reading their own name much more. Scientifically speaking, research reveals that hearing one’s own name has a unique brain functioning activation. Dale Carnegie, the legendary advertiser, once said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Naturally, we become more engaged and even more trusting of a message in which our name appears. Hence, many marketers have managed to address their customers by first name in the letters and emails they send out.

While writing general web copy with name utilization in mind isn’t usually possible, directly addressing your audience by using the word “you” in the headline can grab the attention of your readers, and it’s not even a conscious decision.

The word “Free”: All of us naturally go for the lowest hanging fruit, and the word free triggers that instinct.

Dan Ariely, a researcher of behavioral economics, proved the theory on the human preference for “loss aversion” when he examined a very unusual “battle” between Lindt chocolate truffles and Hershey Kisses. When people were given the choice between a one cent Hershey Kiss or a fifteen cent Lindt Truffle, they preferred the more expensive Lindt Chocolate truffles almost 3 to 1.

But when the prices of both chocolates were lowered 1 cent and the Hershey chocolate suddenly was free of charge, the majority of people shifted their preference to Hershey. As it turns out, we really can’t pass up a steal.

Although the word free encourages people to pay attention to your message, Gregory Ciotti notes that it comes with a downside. “Having something for free will attract more people, but will most certainly include a fair share of ‘bargain hunters’ who aren’t likely to turn into the superstar customers that really grow your business.”

It is better to use the word free on a limited basis and in the right context. For example, emphasize in your call-to-action that it is FREE to sign up for newsletters and updates.

The word “because”: This incredibly persuasive word creates a causal relationship.  Robert Cialdini, the author of the bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, points out that “when we ask someone to do us a favor, we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.” Use the word because in your headline to show your audience that the post will add value to their lives. Then use the power word in the body paragraph to creative an incentive for customers to take action.

“Instantly” or “Immediately”:  If we can trigger something immediately, our brain seizes on it. More specifically, our midbrain becomes active when we envision instant rewards, as does the frontal cortex when it comes to waiting for something. According to several MRI studies, there are significant differences between preferences for smaller immediate rewards and larger delayed rewards.

Emphasizing instant rewards in either your headline or introduction may just be the stimuli you need to get your audience’s attention.

Use Power Words Wisely

As demonstrated by the multiple previously cited studies, applying so-called “power words” in the headline is, indeed, a clever move. But you have to understand why these words are persuasive and use them in the contexts that make sense for your audience. Slapping them on every piece of content you create for no apparent reason will reduce their effectiveness.

Last but not least, the following quote from Winston Churchill applies not only to headlines, but to content writing as well:

Short words are best, and old words, when short, are best of all.


What’re your thoughts on using persuasive words in your FI’s marketing content? Is it effective? Does it matter at all? Let us know in the comments below!