Readers will treat your content like it’s diarrhea through a short Swede…
...making the page it’s written on is about as memorable as toilet paper.
80% of your content readers will treat your copy like it’s diarrhea through a short Swede. They’ll…
Enter at the top,
Quickly skim certain parts (maybe...if you’re lucky),
And exit out the bottom without ever extracting the “nutrients” of what you had to say in the middle.
Only 20% of visitors will read content from start to finish without interruption.
This means your content needs some probiotics. You’ve got to add in some good stuff that visually binds the reader up, stopping them as they slide down the slippery slope before they get to the porcelain throne of indifference.
The Duodenum, Ilium and Cecum of Your Copy
There is a copywriting recipe for that...as old as grandma’s apple cider vinegar recipe for those rumblies in the tummy. You can actually slow down the readership diarrhea at various points in the copy where you want to emphasize a point:
The Duodenum - Sub-Headlines: Bold phrases or sentences which separate major sections will not only catch the eye and cause pause, they give you a chance to pull the reader into your message. Those short snippets create interest, and if they’re interesting enough the reader will dive into the rest of the copy.
The Ilium - Bullet Points: There’s perhaps no better way to begin highlighting the features of your product or service than with bullet points. Bullet points are easy to skim read as the visitor slides down the copy. They’re not meant to give the entire plate full of information - just enough to stop the flow momentarily. Because only once it’s stopped do you have a chance to unload.
The Cecum - The Question: Before the flow rushes on and readers are reaching for the Pepto Bismol (your competition) because of your boring copy, ask a question - in bold letters. Not only does a question stop traffic, it gives the assurance you understand the reader’s plight...their need, desire or dilemma. Your answer, in smaller print they now want to read, then gets them nodding in mental agreement with you, making the intended call to action much easier to swallow.
There is probably not a piece of content that should not include these elements and a few others. You work hard to get your value proposition, features and benefits concise, clear and written. But too often the online word or PDF comes off like reading a dictionary; boring and uninspiring. Without these probiotics, and of course good copy, it’s no wonder readers want quick relief from the diarrhea of boring content.
And when all else fails, put a cork in it.
As you move toward your call to action, add a final cork; a summary of your benefits so that those who read the headline and jump to the final paragraph will find out what’s in it for them.
This is so important. If 80% of online readers start at the headline and skip to the end, your finish needs a huge dose of gut healthy microorganisms. This is what will excite readers to find out more about your cure. Site heatmaps have proven that if you can slow down your traffic at the beginning and end, you have a better chance they will go back and begin reading in earnest. Without this, you have nothing more than diarrhea through a short Swede.
A Final Test of Your Diarrhea Medicine
Here’s a quick tip that will let you estimate the effectiveness of your copy’s stopping power before the world ever sees it; the Tabletop Test. Print your copy - your landing pages, blogs, articles, case studies and white papers. Lay the pages out on a table in order so you can see the entire content. Now skim read it. Look at your headline, your sub-headlines, bullet points and questions.
Does the storyline flow?
Could you write a compelling paragraph using just these elements that summarizes the highlights of what you are trying to say?
Can you find your product or service features and benefits?
Most importantly, does the headline tie in with the summary? Is it exciting enough to cause deeper investigation into the “nutrients” - the good stuff in the regular text - of your content?
Cleaning Out of the Internet Toilet
Most of your competitors are living in the internet toilet. Look at their content and you’ll find most of these probiotics missing. If you looked at their analytics you’d see that the average “time on page” and visitor flow suggests a real diarrhea problem - an exit at the bottom before their value proposition can be fully explored and, subsequently, no connection to a call to action.
Yes, attention spans are short, but...did you ever stop to think it might be because most online content does nothing to stop the immediate whoosh of the flush? Could it be that we've become so tired of boring copy that we've trained ourselves to quickly cut through the crap and move on?
Your content doesn’t have to contribute to the internet toilet. You can present a healthy blog, case study or email that slows the flow, keeps your readers engaged and gives them a reason to follow through with your call to action - but only if you use the cures for content diarrhea.
P.S. Content marketing efforts can quickly be wasted…”nutrients” lost...clicks can turn into flushes if you don’t give your copy a little diarrhea medicine. Talk to me...the diarrhea doctor of copywriting...for what ails your content.