People don’t want to work too hard for their information online. It is so easy to find new sites on Google which means that users spend less time visiting individual websites. To avoid this and to increase the time visitors spend on your site, you must create a better content experience. You must make your users stick to your site. Knowing how to present your content in a compelling and easy to digest way is a valuable skill. Following are the simple yet powerful guidelines and tips on how you can create an immersive content experience, make your communication more effective and drastically increase the stickiness of your site.
Make your headline irresistible
Let’s start with the first thing first. You have to get someone to click on your link and visit your site in the first place. Your first touch point with a potential visitor is normally your article headline. This can be in search engine result pages, in emails or in social media news feeds. It is puzzling that more content creators don’t have this in mind when creating posts. Most of them think of the headline last and publish whatever comes to their mind first.
Don’t be like that. Spend time thinking of an appropriate headline for your article. Your headline determines if people will click on the post and check out the full post. A good rule I have is to try and create more than one headline for each article to force myself to think more and be more creative. Spend some time thinking of ideas and exploring different options before deciding on the final headline. Here are some more of my rules and formulas for headline writing to help you out. My favorite types of headlines are those that:
- Have numbers or top lists in them
- Are personalized with words like “You” or “Your”
- Directly address the need of the audience and problem they are solving
If your headline works and a person clicks on your link and enters your site the first 10 seconds are critical. Visitors are very skeptical as they have suffered a lot of bad content and poorly designed sites. Many bounce right away, most leave within few seconds. The probability of leaving is very high and the decision to stay or leave will be made in the first few seconds. In order to get the visitor to stay you need to establish credibility, start building trust and hook the visitor to your content.
Back button is your enemy – establish credibility and trust
Establishing credibility and building trust are very important when the visitor hits your site. The browser back button is your enemy and you have to keep your first time visitors from clicking it. Your website must be trustworthy and it should be clear who is behind the post. Many web designs look pretty amateur, they are full of pop-ups, banner ads and other irritating distractions. By being professional you can put yourself ahead of the rest and start building trust with your first time visitors.
To make your site credible make it look, feel and sound professional. Have a great looking design, high-quality pictures inside the articles and a clear and descriptive navigation menu. Make sure your content reads well, has no typos and spelling mistakes. To establish your own authority within the field you should include your personal information, your image plus links and other examples of your skills and experience.
Hook the visitor
You need to hook the visitor to make your content hold their attention for much longer after those first few seconds. Sites that are successful in making visitors linger for far longer have a clear value proposition. They tell visitors what is in store for them. So how do you communicate a value proposition? Start your content with a hook or with a conclusion in order to make him or her excited to explore the content deeper. Tell them what they are missing out on, what your content will help them with, surprise them and leave them with questions rather than answers. This helps get them hooked to explore more. Here is a list of effective hooks you can use in your content. Some of my favorite hooks are:
- Contrary hook which challenges existing ideas and encourages debate
- Indirect hook which teases the visitor by delaying to tell what the story is about
- Resource hook which is a piece of content that is full of tips and advice
- Celebrity hook which starts with a comparison to a popular name in the field
Use images to better catch the eye
An often overlooked element of immersive content is imagery. Traditionally most articles online have been based on text only. You need to get away from the text only thinking. You should aim to have visually appealing elements towards the top of your articles. Images catch the eye better than text in most situations and tell some stories more quickly. They get your visitor more involved and play a big part in holding the attention of your visitor for longer. If you have your own images include them in your posts like food or fashion bloggers do, or check this guide for using images you find online.
10 rules for content styling
Majority of people rarely read posts word by word. They scan and pick out individual words and sentences. They don’t like scrolling down the page either and rarely reach the end of the article (are you still with me?). Eye tracking studies have shown that only 20% of the time spent on site and 20% of total clicks happen below the page break. Some studies say that the longer the article is, the less time the visitor spends on it. You have to keep this attention deficit disorder in mind when creating your content. To help work with it you should employ scannable content using these ten styling rules:
- Use paragraphs. Readers are reluctant to tackle large blocks of text. Break blocks of text into paragraphs but do not write single sentences as a paragraph as too many short paragraphs in succession is distracting.
- An idea per paragraph. Concentrate on one point per paragraph. Readers skip over additional ideas in a paragraph if they are not attracted by the first few words.
- Use subheadings. Split your paragraphs with descriptive subheadings.
- Use highlighting. Highlight important parts and keywords with typeface variations and color to make them more eye-catching.
- Make lists. Format parts of your content into bulleted or numbered lists to make it easier to scan.
- Include internal links. Clicking links remains the most-used feature on a site. Including internal links within your posts helps get people stay longer and introduces them to your content archive.
- Add multimedia. Integrate images, videos and other multimedia elements into your content.
- Use definite, specific and concrete language. Post writing has to be very clear, focused and tight to arouse and hold the attention of the readers.
- Revise, rewrite and learn to edit yourself. Omit needless words to make your writing concise. This is one of the main pieces of advice from the Elements Of Style. Simple is much harder than complex so do practice perfecting this.
- Add contextual callouts. Place specific and relevant links to key places of interest at the end of the post to offer a deeper or follow-up information on the topic.
Take a look at this video that I created to show you how I style and edit a post for a better user experience:
This is how your post may look like in the post editing section of WordPress after getting the scannable treatment:
Explore the long form, multiple format posts
Even though visitors don’t like reading much and scrolling too much, it is still possible to catch their attention by creating a different type of a post instead of the traditional text based content. New trend in web content development is longer form articles that have 1,000+ words and that also contain multiple formats such as videos, charts and infographics alongside the text based content. These posts are very good at contextualizing a larger topic and cover it in depth. Some of the great examples of the long form, multiple format posts are:
- Michael Jordan has not left the building
- Snow Fall: The avalanche at Tunnel Creek
- Sean Parker: Agent of disruption
Meat on the bone
I hope this post gives you a better idea of the importance of creating a more immersive content experience for your visitors. Keep this in mind when creating your next post and do work on presenting yourself and your content in a more attractive way in order to get more engaging visitors. Your content can be of the best quality but without an appealing presentation it will not do well.
On the other hand you cannot just think of immersive content presentation only. You also need to make sure to add some substance to your content. Be an authority in your field by creating original, valuable, helpful and useful content to the members of your community. Teach people, inspire people and make their lives better. Be a resource. When put together with valuable content, immersive content presentation can make a powerful impact and will help skyrocket your site.