By Neil Patel
How many people are actually reading your blog posts?
It is reported 43% of readers say they skim through posts.
If you want people to consume the content you’re writing, get them hooked during the introduction.
Take a second to think about the goal of each article you publish.
Are you just trying to get page views?
I see businesses and bloggers make this mistake all the time.
They’re happy just to get page views on their blogs and don’t care whether people are reading them.
But that strategy is very inefficient.
Yes, getting people to click on your post is half the battle.
You need to take the proper steps to market it correctly and promote it through all your distribution channels.
Your blog is the perfect opportunity to promote more content associated with your website or brand and engage with your readers.
But this can’t happen if they don’t actually read it.
You could be getting even more clicks and page views by utilizing internal links throughout your post.
Maybe you can make some money by including some affiliate links as well.
Here’s something else to consider.
How long does it take you to write each post?
As you can see from the data, the average blog post takes over three hours to write.
That number is steadily on the rise, so you can expect it to take you even more time in the future.
It’d be a shame for all that hard work to get skimmed over and not read.
As an experienced blog writer and expert in this industry, I know what it takes to write successful posts.
It all starts with the introduction—literally.
I’ll show you how to write blog post introductions that capture the attention of your readers and get them to read your entire post.
Start with a strong hook
The hook is the opening line of your introduction, and you have a few options to consider.
Your hook could be a full sentence, single word, question, or phrase.
In case you forgot, I’ll remind you I got your attention in this post by starting it with a question.
After you come up with a winning opening line, you need to lead the reader into a transition.
The transition line or lines should provide some sort of clarification about the direction and content of your article.
Your content should be relatable, and the intro should reflect that.
Include a somewhat obvious statement that will get your readers to agree with you.
Speak directly to the reader. Talk about a situation they might be in that brought them to your post in the first place.
Address their problem, which you’ll eventually offer a solution to.
But keep it general—you don’t want to narrow it down too much and alienate the rest of your audience.
Here is a recent blog post I wrote about customer acquisition strategies as an example:
Let’s break this down:
Sentence A is an obvious statement the reader can agree with.
Sentence B is a transition to show what the post is going to cover.
Sentence C is addressing a problem the reader might be having.
Sentence D speaks directly to the audience.
Remember, you want to keep these points general enough to reach a wide audience but specific enough to make the reader feel you’re speaking directly to their situation.
Look back at a little trick I used in the example above.
First I said “new businesses,” but a couple of lines later, I said “companies that have been in business for a while.”
This covers all my bases and speaks to the majority of possible readers.
Include facts to back up your claims
If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you know I like to include lots of statistics and data to back up what I’m saying.
I do this throughout my posts, but I include it in the introduction too if it fits.
Scroll back up to the top of this post to see what I mean.
Including recent data from high quality and reputable sources shows you’re credible.
The reader will know that while you may be giving your opinion or taking a certain stance on a topic, you’re at least showing facts to support it.
This sets up the rest of your blog post.
If you’ve got statistics in the introduction, the reader can assume you’ll include additional facts throughout the rest of the content (which you should).
Numbers, in general, seem to speak to people.
Before you can get someone to read your introduction, you need to get them to click on your post in the first place.
Take a look at the starting headlines of the most engaging blog posts:
Half of the top 20 headlines start with a number.
You can capture the attention of a reader with numbers in your headline, then draw them in even further with statistical information in your introduction.
You don’t have to wait to add images
As you can see, I’m a huge advocate of using pictures, graphs, infographics, and other images throughout blog posts.
It’s a great way to break up your content and make it easier for readers to skim through—a very common way for people to read blog posts.
But that doesn’t mean you need to wait until the middle of your post to start including images.
I’m not saying you need to put a picture after your opening line, but you can absolutely use photos in your introduction.
You can even add a photo to separate the title and the first line of your introduction.
Here’s an example of how I implemented this strategy on my blog.
Notice the opening lines of my introduction here as well.
It fits the criteria of hooking the reader with a question, which I discussed above.
I used an image earlier in this post. It’s a visual representation of the amount of time it takes people to write a blog post, also making a point that you’re wasting time if nobody is reading it.
We just talked about the importance of using data in your introductions, which is why I used a statistical graph earlier.
Blogs with relevant images have 94% more views than posts with just text.
That number is astonishing.
It shows people want illustrations of points they are reading about.
Don’t make them wait. Give them what they want right away, and add an image to your introductions.
Be direct, but don’t give it all away
There’s a certain art to this.
You don’t want to talk in circles during your introduction.
Make direct statements.
But you also don’t want to sum up your entire article either.
I’ve had bloggers tell me they write the body of their content first, then go back and sum it up in the introduction.
I don’t agree with that strategy.
Your introduction shouldn’t serve the same purpose as the executive summary of a business plan.
It should signal what the rest of the post is about to get people to read the whole thing.
Save your summary for the concluding paragraphs.
Instead, try to hint at what’s to come.
Tease the reader to pique their curiosity.
Let’s look at an example.
Here’s a snippet from the introduction of a blog post discussing whether mobile app developers should launch their apps on the Apple or Android platform first:
Look at how the author sets this up.
They do a fantastic job of stimulating curiosity.
The three underlined sentences all basically say the developer needs to decide between Apple and Android.
But right before the introduction ends, the author throws a tease, saying there is a way to launch on both platforms at the same time—without giving the answer of how to do it.
It’s implied the solution will be offered in the post, so the viewer will have to continue reading if they want to find out what to do.
You can implement the same technique in your introductions.
Bring up a topic the reader wants to learn about, saying something like “but we’ll get to that later on.”
It’s more effective than saying “this is how you do X, Y, and Z.”
Now the reader has no reason to continue because they already have all the information they came for.
Preview your introductions when you’re promoting the content
Think about how you’re driving readers to your blog.
Are you sending out a link that includes only the title?
Add the beginning of your introduction to these promotions as well.
Take a look at how Conversion XL does this with their Facebook posts:
The opening lines of the introduction can entice their Facebook followers to click on the article.
It’s more effective than using the title only.
If you visit their website, they do the same thing here:
Now they’ve included even more of the introduction.
The reader has seen enough now to be intrigued to continue reading the entire article.
This strategy illustrates the points we discussed earlier: a strong opening hook, piquing curiosity.
I recommend using this method whenever you’re emailing your post to subscribers as well.
The preview text can give them that extra incentive to click on the full article and read the entire post.
Write a long introduction, but not too long
You shouldn’t feel restricted while you’re writing an introduction.
Choose your words carefully, but don’t think your intro needs to be limited to just a few lines or a paragraph.
While the opening few lines may be the most important, you can still hook the reader with the rest of your introduction.
Talk about your personal experience, and explain what qualifies you to be an expert on a particular topic.
Nobody wants to hear about ways to start a business from scratch from someone who has never done it before.
If you’ve been part of ten successful startup companies, now is your chance to brag about it (if it’s relevant to the topic).
Your blog posts should be long.
Take a look at how the length of your post impacts social shares:
Aim for at least 2,000 words on every blog post, but try to get over 2,500 if you can.
The word count also affects your search ranking on Google’s algorithm.
You’re limiting yourself if you keep the introduction to just 50 words.
It’ll be much more difficult for you to reach the desired word count that way.
Don’t be afraid to write an introduction that’s up to 300 words, but don’t ramble for 500 words.
I’d say, all your intros should be at least 150 words or so.
Driving traffic to your blog is great, but it’s not enough.
To fully engage with your audience and promote more content, you should be trying to get people to read through your entire blog posts.
After all, you spend so much time and effort writing them. Why let all of that meaty content go to waste?
While it’s inevitable that people will skim through your posts, your introduction can entice them to read more.
Start off with a strong hook. Get your readers to agree with your stance on the topic.
Speak directly to them by explaining a scenario or problem they may be currently experiencing.
Use data to show your blogs are informative and credible.
You can include an image in your introduction as well.
Let readers know what the rest of the post will discuss, and hint at a solution without giving the answer.
This will stimulate their curiosity and get more people to continue reading.
Preview your introductions when you’re promoting blogs on your website, social media pages, email campaigns, or any other distribution channel.
Don’t be afraid to write a long introduction.
Follow these tips, and you’ll increase the number of people who actually read your blogs.
What hooks do you use in an introduction to capture the attention of your readers?