Tips for Writing Engaging Articles to Captivate Your Target Audience

Simply writing articles 'for' a target audience will fail if you cannot 'engage' them by knowing what they want to hear and how they want to hear it. This requires a comprehensive understanding of their needs and background. It also means understanding what your audience really wants to know and get from your article.

Writing compelling and engaging articles and motivating readers to read right through your article is the key to being a successful online writer. The reader will refer your article to others and they are more likely to click on ads and earn money for the writer.

Reader engagement is one metric that Google and other search engine providers are looking for when choosing articles to list in their search engine results.

The aim is to satisfy the needs of the reader and to deliver and what they want in the way they want to hear it by reading the article and having their query addressed, or question answered.

This article discusses how to write articles that really engage your reader.

Source
Source
Source
Source

What is Engagement and How do You Measure it?

The problem with engagement is that it is a "heart" or emotional response that we can only really measure with "head" data. It can also be described as a "Wow" response. The users say to themselves: "This is fabulous." "Just what I was looking for." "I never knew that." The response to the article changes from casual reading or even 'skimming' to fully focused intense reading if the article. This is really what engagement is about, but you can only measure the reaction of the reader from the responses they make. And many of these responses cannot be measured. The reader may click a link to another page, but they may also add the URL to the favorites and links, or share your page in ways you cannot measure. This may be the time they spend on the site, their reactions in completing polls, clicking on internal links that go to related pages of the site and similar outcomes. We cannot measure the emotions, and many of the metrics may be misleading.

Time taken reading may signify a frustrated reader having to wade through lots of stuff they are not interested in, to find the answers they want. Another reader may leave quickly because they get the information quickly, because the article is well designed. So that they can skim through the headings to the part that provides the answers. The site may engage them well, despite the short time they spend reading the article.

Each business or topic you write about is unique. Each article or web page is trying to do something unique and different. It is therefore, very hard to generalize and this compounds the problem of developing a consistent way of measuring engagement. Unlike visits, conversions, clicks, hits, return visits, recency, click on links and ads, it is hard to know what engagement is and how to measure it.

Let's Look a Some Social Media Measures of 'Engagement'

.

The Formula used for Facebook Post Engagement

The Engagement Rate on Facebook aims to determine how well your Fans interact with your content. The Facebook formula averages the average number of Comments, Likes and Shares of the post. The formula is shown below. The index is multiplied by 100 to express it as a percentage:

Engagement Rate = (Number of Likes + Number of Comments + Shares on a given day) x 100 / Total number of fans on a given day

.

The Tweet Engagement Rate Formula

This index uses the number of Retweets and Replies for the Tweet as an average of the total number of Followers to date. Once again the index is multiplied by 100 and expressed as a percentage. The formula is:

Engagement Rate = ( Number of replies + Retweets) x 100 / Number of followers

What Features of Customer Engagement can Web Analytics Provide?

Google and Bing Web analytics measure, analyse and report on user interaction with a websites and metrics, primarily to help the site owner optimize user 'engagement' with the website, page or article. It is primarily about the commercial aspects of a site:

  • users who stay longer,
  • have return visits
  • or who visit other pages on the site

are more likely to be 'happy' with the site and will be more likely to buy what is being sold, click on the ads and respond in other ways through the 'actions' built into the site.

These metrics measure traffic and popularity, but also provide a market research tool to assess and improve the effectiveness of a web site.

Lets look at some of the metrics provided by Google and Bing analytics and how they relate to user engagement.

Unique Visits / Percent of New Visits: Shows how many people visit your page for the first time. Low numbers of repeat visits may be a sign that few of your users come back for more. However this depends on your topic and objectives. A good site may satiate users with a single visit.

Percent Returning Visitors: If the site is designed as a reference site, that people will keep coming back to, then this may be a sign that the site is working. Some sites are nor designed for repeat visits.

Bounce Rate: This is one of the key metrics for multi-page sites. If the user opens your page, and then goes to one of your other pages, their visit is prolonged. If a user enters, stays reading the page, and then exists, this is called a bounce. So if 100 people enter a website on the landing page and 40 of them go through to another page and the same site, the bounce rate is 60%. Bounce rates vary greatly depending on the content of the page, for example: blog posts generally have a very high bounce rates as the topic is covered on a single long page. Similarly if you do not provide links to your related pages the user has no way of staying for a while on your site. Product pages for online stores tends to have a low bounce rates because users will skim through the list of products, choose an external link and be gone. The average bounce rate is usually about 50% for a multi-page site with good links. The bounce rate values should be considered simultaneously with the average time on the page. If the time spend is high this may offset the negative aspects of a high bounce rate. Similarly low time on the page may be countered by a low bounce rate as users have been navigating to other pages to get the detailed information they are after.

Frequency of Visits: This obviously depends on the time frame. A person who has visited the site 5 times in the last fortnight is more engaged that someone who has visited the site 20 times over the last 12 months.

Recency of Visit: This metric assesses the recency of our customers' last engagement. It is usually measured as Days Since Last Visit. The interpretation of this metric depends on the design and purpose of the page. If you expect visitors to return and don’t – this is a sign that the site is not meeting their requirements. There are seasonal aspects and some sites that provide information may not be expected to have repeat visits.

Pages per Visit / Depth of Visit: show how many pages your user visits, but the kind of engagement is unknown as a frustrated user may plough through many pages trying to get what they are after.

Average Visit Duration / Time Spent on Site: Time spent on the site correlates with the extent of engagement, but does not discriminate between the quality of the engagement. You user may simply be frustrated trying to get what they are really after.

Other Types of Engagement Requiring an Active Response from the User

These are perhaps the most useful metrics because the user must take an action to confirm their engagement. Some examples of this are:

  • Brand Recognition
  • Printing or downloading a piece of content
  • User submissions or contributions
  • Rating or bookmarking the content
  • Feedback (comments, likes, complaints, enquiries, etc)
  • Registering
  • Polls
  • Subscribing (feed, email, newsletter)
  • Degree of Engagement

Conclusion - User Engagement is very Hard to Measure

Derivation of the kind or engagement (positive or negative) is not possible using web analytics alone. All that can be measured is the degree of engagement and the type has to be inferred from the responses the user makes on the site by opening other pages or by completing questionnaires or adding comments.

Tips for Boosting Engagement and Getting the WOW Response

There are a number of general things you can do to get the user more engaged with your article or website:

Make Use of Power and 'Muscle' Words and Calls to Action

Engage your audience by referring them as "you" and "your" and use active voice rather than passive.

Instead of: "In order to become a successful artist, one must practice as much as possible in your free time."
Power Word Text: "Do you aim to become a good and respected artist? Practice when you have some free time to help you meet your goals!"

Use 'calls to action' and muscle words throughout your article to guide visitors to links and keep them interested. Embed text links in your text as sign posts to make your site dynamic.

See examples of 'call to action' words in the table below.

Action Words that Help Engage Your Reader

absolute
distinctive
low-priced
reminiscent
acclaim
durable
luxurious
research
approved
economical
luxury
results
drive
efficient
magic
revealing
endorsed
evaluate
magical
review
propel
everyday events
muscle
sale
proven
exclusive
museum-quality
seasonal
rebuild
expert
natural
secrets
recommended
exquisite
new
special occasions
remake
extensive
nostalgic
state-of-the-art
start over
extraordinary
one of a kind
strategies
transact
extreme
opinion
study
acclaim
fate
optional
stunning
adaptable
favorite
organic
succeed
advantages
feature-packed
outrageous
successful
affordable
findings
overwhelming
suggest
all-new
flair
patriotic
summary
analysis
flawless
phenomenal
superb
antique
flexible
piece of art
system
appalling
forge
plan
thrifty
astounding
free
policy
tips
authentic
genuine
portable
trusted
beacon
guaranteed
powerful
unbreakable
benefit
guaranteed
practical
unequaled
bold
half-priced
precision
unique
brand-new
handy
preliminary
unprecedented
breakthrough
helpful
presentation
unsurpassed
classic
high-quality
privilege
updated
clever
honorable
problem
venture
compact
how-to
procedure
versatile
convenient
in a class by itself
productive
vibrant
critique
indulge
professional
vintage
custom-made
inexpensive
profitable
vivid
daring
influential
projections
warranted
dazzling
informative
proposal
waterproof
delightful
ingenious
protect
wholesale
dependable
innovative
radical
win
destiny
invaluable
rapid-action
worth
discount
investigation
rebate
you
discussion
lead
recommendations
your

Appeal to The Reader's Emotions

Desire, hope, wanting to succeed, fear of failure and flattery are great examples of common appeals to the reader's emotional appeals. Wanting to succeed is a great example to keep in mind when writing. Readers are searching for information and you need to know what they are looking for and how they want it presented.

Make Good Use of Repetition to Emphasise the Key Points

Repetition is often the key to successful engagement, especially when you are telling them what they want to hear. Use it as reinforcement and do it wisely to stop the users being bored.

Answer Both the Obvious, the Potential Questions and Give the Reader some Unexpected Surprises (WOWs)

This includes questions and answers, "What ifs" and the full gambit of potential queries you believe your reader wants to know. This will garner trust and showcase your credibility and an authority on the topic.

Keep the Article Concise, Well-structured with Sections and Headings

Many readers will skim through your article to find the bits they are really interested in. Long unstructured paragraphs become overpowering and many readers won't be bothered to wade through them. Be concise, succinct, but thorough and comprehensive at the same time.

Content Really Is the 'King'

If you want to fully engage your readers, then write good, well-researched, well-written content that meets your reader's needs and is presented in a well-structured layout.

Get your Readers Responding to the Content

Design you article so that it has built in ways that the reader can respond to the content via comments and polls. Always answer the comments to get a flow of ideas started - that others will follow.

Tricks to Grabbing Your Reader’s Attention

  • Begin with a sensational statistic. Many readers get shocked by the facts and want to read more
  • Include stories and personal experiences. This grabs the reader's attention and baits them so they want to reader more to find out what happened.
  • Always make sure that the opening one or two paragraphs and well written and have many baits and incentives for the reader to read more.

Social Networks and Web Analytics

There a number of ways to track how your engagement is progressing. Below is a good way to get a summary about the Key Social Networks - just key in your URL

Click the Image to follow the link.
Click the Image to follow the link. | Source

Do you believe that Reader Engagement is Important

  • YES
  • NO
See results without voting

© 2013 Dr. John Anderson

More by this Author


Comments 2 comments

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Well, this is certainly full of info to consider. I am bookmarking it to come back to later as it definitely will require more than one read.

thanks for sharing.

Sending Angels your way :) ps


Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Well, Janderson99, you grabbed and kept this reader! You describe the difference between writing for a target market and engaging a target market, very well. I suspect that my writing style and the topics I choose for articles don't usually match the "best" target markets out there. Also, it would appear I need to write many more articles and more articles on topics that appeal to a certain target market. Then link the articles to keep people moving from one (good) article to the next.

Thanks for the great hub!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working