You’ve mastered the irresistible headline.
You’re driving visits!
But that’s not enough.
You need conversions. You don’t make the sale on brilliant headlines alone.
That’s where the lead paragraph (“lede paragraph” to you journos out there) comes in. You must craft a first paragraph that compels readers to continue.
That’s the only way to get them to take the next step and make a purchase.
How do you write the perfect lead?
Here are examples of leads using techniques you can tailor to your audience.
Get Right to the Point
Selling a big-ticket item that’s not fun to read about? Get right to a cost-saving benefit statement, like GE does on its washing machine category page:
GE knows its customers are most concerned with money, so they’re nipping those concerns in the bud before moving on to any other points.
Now cost-concerned customers can read on without worry.
James Altucher is a master of intrigue. Here’s the lead of a recent LinkedIn article he wrote:
I dare you not to go read that article!
Leading with something that piques curiosity almost forces prospects to keep reading. If you pull this tactic, just make sure you make it worth their time and suspense (of course, as an ISOOSI reader, you already know that).
Give ‘em an Ego Boost
See what I did up there?! I made an important point, but didn’t insult your intelligence. You also know that when giving an ego boost, it should be genuine. You really do know not to pull a bait-and-switch with your content. I wouldn’t just say that to make you feel good.
Here’s an example from Roger Dooley’s Neuromarketing blog:
John Carvalho acknowledges the knowledge of the readers of this site. If he were writing this post on any other marketing site, he probably wouldn’t lead with that statement because those readers really wouldn’t be familiar with the idea of fluency, and he might offend them. Used here, it’s a nod to the readers’ psychology smarts.
Get in their head
Ask a question, then answer it (Oh snap, I just did it!)
One writing technique that Joe Vitale teaches in Hypnotic Writing is to anticipate a question your readers might have—at the exact moment they’re thinking it. Then answer that question. It’s a hypnotic suggestion that builds trust.
Here’s an example from Jaguar’s British Villains campaign:
They start off with an irresistible headline, then ask, “Now, do we have your full attention?”
As you’re thinking, “Yes,” you see they reply, “Excellent.”
You’re like, “Whoa!” and continue reading.
This works well when writing product copy.
After writing the basic copy, reread it and note where you’d have a question if you were reading this as a customer. Then add that question to the copy. Then address that question.
Make a Statement
You know your readers. Let them know that you know what they’re going through.
State the very problem that led them to read your copy.
ISOOSI does a great job of this on its homepage.
ISOOSI knows what its customers want. You’re constantly browsing the web and need a faster and easier way to find what you’re looking for. ISOOSI gets it. ISOOSI gets you.
With that understanding established, you’ve bonded with the company and are more likely to read on and use the research engine.
Give a Command
There are hypnotic words. They include, “discover,” “imagine” and “because,” among many others.
If your copy can get someone to take action early, that person is more likely to take further action.
Leading off with a command is powerful.
Here’s an example from a post by Heather Lloyd-Martin on the SEO Copywriting Blog. (Bias alert! I’m the blog editor over there.)
For a freelance writer, that’s a pretty scary thought.
It makes you think of your biggest client, then imagine that client leaving. It makes you wonder what would happen to your business and you start to develop feelings around that thought.
You realize that what she has to say is important and you’d better keep reading.
Those are my top tips for how to write a lead paragraph that compels your potential customers toward the end goal.
Now, go forth, write leads, create and convert!
What are some other compelling lead writing tactics? Share ‘em in the comments below!