We had them by the ankles, dragging kicking and screaming against their will; it was only a matter of time, all we needed was a little patience. While this could well be the opening line to our crime thriller, it’s also a handy metaphor for just how enticing a great intro really can be: catch your readers off guard, grab them by the ankles, and they’ll be at your mercy, ready and willing to take in every one of your words.
The Purpose of an Intro
This may well be a redundant statement, but when writing an online article, the intro isn’t just to introduce the topic. That’s a large part of it, of course, but an intro is for nothing if it’s so off-putting that the reader will just click away, never to return.
But there’s no real hierarchy of what is most important: yes, an article’s opener needs to be attention grabbing, but it also needs to explain what is about to be presented and how you, as the writer, intend to answer the topic being discussed. It’s a tricky balance since it can’t be too long, either.
The Secrets of Intro Writing
Luckily writing is quite an old profession – it’s been around for at least a couple of decades or so – so there are plenty of tried-and-true formulas that can be used to make sure that an intro has the maximum efficiency:
One good strategy is to start with a broad topic, then narrow it down towards the point you want to discuss in the article. Taking clovio’s Best Reviews as an example, someone might want to write an article about how gamers can protect their digital game libraries with password managers by first talking about the enjoyment to be had when gaming before focusing down on how unsecure accounts can stop that fun in its tracks.
Directly involving the reader is a great way to grab their attention since it will seem as though the article has been written just for them. But how can you be directly pulled into our words? Well, just like that: through a rhetorical question directed at the reader. Ask something of the reader relevant to the topic and you’ll have an easy lead into the article.
“Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing,” Benjamin Franklin once said, and nowhere is that truer than with the opening line of an article. A quote automatically has a great sense of value and so long as the one being used is powerful, notable, and related to the topic at hand, then using it to open an article will create a sense of intrigue and added weight for what is about to be discussed.
Using creative writing techniques to set the scene of a related moment is very useful since it creates a vivid immediacy that the reader will want to see explored. This could be proposing the reader imagine a situation involving the topic at hand, or describing something relatable that most of us will have had to endure before. Since it uses the reader’s imagination, a well-written setup can really draw them in.
How to Capture the Reader’s Attention
Opening with a couple of lines of very factual language can come across as dry and, frankly, rather boring, and since you want to captivate the reader with an intro, this is a disaster for ensuring they’ll go on to read the full article. There’s a world of difference between show and tell, as in this example:
‘In 2007, Apple released the original iPhone, the first smartphone as we now know it. The device sold 6.1 million units and made smartphone technology commonplace by integrating numerous features into a single handheld gadget. It was first released in America, followed by the UK, France, and Germany.’
Compare the hard work that it takes to read this with a much more dynamic opening:
‘Can you remember a time before smartphones? Before apps, touchscreens, and on-the-go internet browsing? It’s been over a decade since Apple released the first iPhone and after its smash success – with over 6 million owners in its first year across the US and Europe – our lives haven’t been the same since.’
How to Adapt Your Intro
Of course, it’s important to remember that every intro has to be relevant and in keeping with the type of article being written. A fun opener with a conversational tone might not be suitable for a serious blog about how medical alert systems can help the elderly with severe illnesses cope with their struggles.
Writing an intro for one of the reviews on our Best Reviews site still requires certain information – such as what the product or company behind it is, for example – but it’s still integral to weave those facets into an intriguing intro that gets the reader interested in finding out more about the product.
An FAQ, on the other hand, should only have the bare necessities, stripping away the superfluous and creative text for something barebones that simply answers whatever the question is. Understanding the purpose of the article and therefore its audience is a significant starting point.
And remember, there’s more than just the copy under the writer’s control, too. Picking a suitable headline and a relevant, high-quality image will help prime the reader into understanding precisely what they’re going to get from an article; combine this with a well-written intro and you’ll never need to worry about bounce rate again.