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Imagine for a moment that a prospect has found one of your blog’s articles via an organic search. He or she clicks on the Google SERP link, checks out the headline, and reads the first paragraph. What do you want that prospect to do next? Read on, of course! And that’s where your copy’s hook comes in. A hook is an invitation to read on. It’s the first part of your copy, and it’s designed to engage the reader.
A hook matters regardless of the type of copy you create, from blog posts and emails to landing pages and infographics. Learning about the different types of hooks and why they work can help your content marketing become more efficient.
Image via Flickr by Virtual EyeSee
Questions are consistently enticing. They inspire readers to consider the potential answers. Plus, if they’re active learners, they’ll want to read on to find out what answer you’ll supply.
Let’s say, for instance, that you’re writing a blog post about choosing the best running shoes. You could start with a question hook like one of these:
These questions help you connect with your readers based on a shared experience.
People often love numbers. They’re specific and sometimes shocking. If you come across a particularly persuasive or surprising statistic, use it at the beginning of your copy. Websites, like Statista, offer readers instant access to statistics and facts regarding subjects they’re interested in. They can also search any number of educational or government websites to find accurate, relevant statistics.
Continuing with our example about running shoes, your hook might look like one of these:
From these hooks, you can then move on to the meat of your copy.
There’s nothing wrong with generating a bit of controversy every now and again. If your opinion on a specific topic deviates from the norm, use it as a hook for your next piece of content. If you don’t have a controversial opinion, you could use a statement that might arouse your reader’s curiosity. Even if it’s not true, website visitors will want to know what you have to say on the topic.
For example, you might use one of the following opening statements in your blog about ill-fitting running shoes:
This article began with a storytelling or anecdotal hook. It’s one of the most effective types of hooks because it encourages the reader to identify with the author. When we share experiences, we feel connected to one another. You can relay a true or fictional story as long as you don’t mislead the reader in any way. Set up a scenario, tell a true story from a personal experience, or relate a story someone else has told you. The point is to engage your readers on a mental and emotional level.
If you’re writing an article about choosing the right running shoe, you could share a story about how you suffered an injury or setback because of ill-fitting shoes.
Types of hooks sometimes blend together. The dilemma hook is closely related to the storytelling hook but with a specific feature. You want to show that you understand a problem or predicament your reader currently faces.
Back to our running shoe example, you might start with one of these hooks:
These types of hooks set the stage for helping the reader solve a problem related to their running shoes.
There’s a reason many speakers open with jokes. Comedy softens the audience and establishes a connection between the presenter and the group. You can do the same thing in your copy. Tell a joke, relate a humorous anecdote, set up an implausible situation, or poke tasteful fun at a common problem. If you can make your readers laugh, you might win them over for good — and convince them to buy from you.
These types of hooks are like the opening montage of a dramatic movie. For instance, if you’re writing about choosing the best running shoes, you could describe a scene in which a runner is setting off for a jog. Evoke as many senses as possible. What does she hear? What does he smell? How does she feel? What can he see? If you can successfully help readers imagine the scene you’re describing, you’ll have them hooked.
Descriptive hooks work particularly well when you’re writing introductory copy for data visualization. For instance, if you’ve created an infographic, you’ll want to lay the groundwork for the data and imagery to follow.
Never underestimate the power of an inspirational or revealing quote. Consumers love to hear from experts, so consider hooking your audience with a particularly illuminating quote from a professional in the industry or a well-known public figure.
For instance, in your blog about running shoes, you could lead with the following quote from track and field star, Jim Ryun: “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
Regardless of the kinds of hooks you can use to engage your audience, make sure you choose the right hook based on your type of content. If you can convince your reader to continue beyond the opening paragraph, you have a better shot at persuading him or her toward your offer.