And glue the reader to the screen.
How do scriptwriters get us to binge on series?
By piquing our curiosity.
At the end of an episode they leave a huge door open so that we can’t do anything else (not even go to the toilet) until we know what’s behind it.
You need to do the same when you write copy.
Sometimes you’ll need to write long copy, since you have to state all the reasons why the person who has landed on your website needs to buy your product or hire your services.
You’ll also need to write long copy if you are aiming to write a blog to attract organic traffic.
And if you want people to read your copy and be convinced that what you offer is exactly what they need, you should make reading you entertaining.
Almost like a Netflix series, but not as convoluted as Dark!
Today I’m going to talk about 3 copywriting techniques to make the reader stay glued to their mobile or pc screen.
Are you staying?
Here we go.
I first knew about them in Joe Sugarman’s Copywriting Handbook. They are expressions of the type:
– And that’s not all.
– Wait because there’s more
– And this is what happened
– We’ll look at this in the next section
– I know what you’re thinking… But let me explain.
You see the kind of formula they follow?
They plant a curiosity seed in the reader’s mind to keep them reading.
You can use them after a slightly longer paragraph where you explained some aspect of your product or service that’s a bit more complicated.
Or when you hint at the benefit your prospects will get if they do what you want them to do (in most cases buy).
Let’s look at an example.
“What you are about to discover next also surprised me the first time. But let me tell you how it all started….”
“Mobile scanning software technology has proven to be the main competitive advantage for 75% of the retailers surveyed, as it has increased the speed of performing routine tasks such as inventory management, price checking or picking.
Let’s see how it works in real life”.
After reading this last sentence the prospect wants to know how that previous long sentence with a lot of information in it applies to their work, so they better understand the real benefit.
Your copy needs to be entertaining and interesting enough (no matter what it talks about, be it software or a travel article) to make the reader want to keep reading.
Curiosity seeds help you keep the reader from wandering off and willing to know what’s coming next.
Sugarman always said that the purpose of the sentence you are writing is to get the reader read the next one and so on, because your ultimate goal is to get your prospects to read the entire copy.
He called this concept the slippery slide.
For him, the most important thing was to make the reader want to know more after reading the headline, then the first sentence and then the rest of the lead, after that the reader had no choice but to continue reading as if they were on a slippery slide where you can only go down.
Curiosity seeds help you grease the slide so the reader easily slides down to the end.
Sugarman made a lot of money writing copy in the 1970s and 1980s, when there was no internet, and they sold millions of products with ads in newspapers and magazines and sales letters mailed directly to prospects.
In the age of the internet and social media it’s even harder to get people read a whole page of 500+ words.
We live in the age of too much content, so you need to do it right, because among all that content there’s a lot of rubbish.
But if you know how to write and keep your reader’s attention, it’s possible.
As Howard Gossage said,
“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad”.Plant curiosity seeds in your copy and glue the reader to the screen. Click To Tweet
Have you ever wondered what would happen if one day you woke up and there was no more running water?
What do you really want to do with your life?
Have you ever stopped to wonder if you know everything about the person sleeping next to you?
Asking questions makes the reader feel involved in your copy, it makes them stop and think.
The fact that you have posed such a relevant question will increase their curiosity because you are possibly giving them a new angle on something they are interested in.
Remember, people are selfish and we are only interested in topics that speak directly to us, either because they satisfy our curiosity or because we sense we’ll get something out of it.
You may say to me, Elena, but not everyone is selfish, I donate to Unicef.
I also give money to Unicef and it’s a very laudable thing to do, but if you think about it, in reality we do it for 2 reasons:
1. Because we feel bad for those children who are suffering from cold and hunger in the refugee camps.
2. To appease our conscience about not doing more, for example, leaving everything behind and going to help those children in the camps in Greece.
So there’s some selfishness in that, I’m sorry to put it brutally like that.
But let’s go back to the copy.
What does this slightly malicious comment of mine have to do with writing copy?
Because I want to show you how important it is to always write with the reader in mind and appeal to what they are interested in.
Let’s look at more ways to increase the reader’s curiosity.
To show you how important storytelling is to increase the reader’s curiosity and keep them reading, I’m going to tell you a story. This is like being inside the Matrix.
A couple of months ago I went back to Spain to help my mother move house. She wanted to move to Barcelona to be closer to my sister.
I helped her with the preparations in Madrid, collecting and boxing up all the decorations, knick-knacks, clothes and books she has and handling all the paperwork for the sale of her flat.
At the same time my sister was helping in Barcelona with the paperwork for the purchase of the apartment where my mother was going to move.
I can’t tell you how stressful it was!
Everything needed to be coordinated so that the sale coincided with the purchase and we didn’t have to rent a depot to store the furniture before we could get the keys to the new flat.
On the day of the signing of the sale, my mother and I were a bug of nerves, if things didn’t go well we would lose the opportunity to buy the flat in Barcelona for which we had already put down a lot of money.Plant curiosity seeds in your copy and glue the reader to the screen. Click To Tweet
In the middle of the signing something went wrong, the buyers, a nice young couple, lost patience with the director of the bank that was going to grant them the mortgage.
Apparently there were some mistakes in the contract, and from what we heard it wasn’t the first time the bank had made a mistake in drafting the conditions they had agreed to.
I squeezed my mother’s hand under the table because I knew she was as nervous as I was, I could almost hear her gasping for breath, if we didn’t sign that day, we were basically in deep shit.
Then the prospective buyer gave us an exemplary demonstration of how to tell a story that made us all forget we were alive and just listen to her.
In just a few sentences she was able to express the agony they had been going through during the weeks they had been negotiating with the bank, without dramatising but with all the details.
The bank manager was sinking deeper and deeper into her chair with the embarrassment she was going through because the way the young woman explained the situation chronologically was so clear and so detailed that she could only agree with her.
In the end they signed the purchase since the manager promised to change the errors in the contract as soon as she arrived at the office.
When they had signed all the pages and the flat was finally theirs, my mother and I breathed a sigh of relief. I had no doubt that thanks to the woman’s storytelling skills, everything was sorted out since the bank manager, who until then had had no contact with the couple and who clearly had no idea of the conditions they had agreed with another employee, understood the situation perfectly and was able to find a quick solution.
So yes, knowing how to explaining things is really important, not only in copywriting but also in life.
Because it will save you time and trouble and it will also make people listen to you.
And for that, you need to read books. I’m sorry, but there is no other way. With series and films you don’t learn to express yourself well, with books you do.
Knowing how to generate curiosity will bring you a lot of joy, because it will help you make people read and listen to whatever you have to say.
This is the only way to convince them to do what you want them to.
Practice these 3 techniques:
– include curiosity seeds in your long copy but don’t overdo it, because like with every trick in life, if you overdo it, it doesn’t work anymore.
– ask powerful questions to your prospects
– tell them a story they can relate to and want to know what happens next.
And if you’ve read my story about selling my mother’s flat and you’re wondering whether I prefer Madrid or Barcelona I’m sorry but I can’t answer that question 😉
Take care and see you around!