From intro to CTA: How to write an article that keeps people reading

Writing an article that ranks with a title that makes people click is only half the work. Now you need them to take action, whether that’s signing up for a free trial, subscribing to a newsletter, or scheduling a call.

So how do you go about that?

By using strategies that capture the reader’s attention from the first line, keep them hooked throughout the article, and show them exactly what they need to do next.

In this post, you’ll learn how to use the following reader-engaging tactics:

  • writing according to the Pyramid Model
  • using content patterns
  • implementing an overarching story or theme
  • enriching your content
  • offering a clear conclusion
  • including call-to-actions
  • implementing copywriting best practices 

Follow the Pyramid Model

The goal of this principle is to provide the main piece of information within the introduction. In short: You want to satisfy search intent in the first paragraph.

The Pyramid Model goes back to the journalistic principle that an article should always mention the most important information before going into details.

The principle has since been applied for executive summaries for C-level executives and equally holds true for blog posts.

Depending on which study you read, it takes anywhere from a mere 50 milliseconds to 15 seconds for a user to decide whether your content  is interesting enough to read… or whether they’ll hit the back button. If your article starts with a long personal story that in no way relates to the search term that made a user find you, you’ve probably lost them before they get to the good stuff.

Here is a great and punchy intro for an executive summary:

For years, Hot Fire Shoes has shown a steady increase in yearly revenue and profitability.

This quarter, Hot Fire Shoes’ profitability unexpectedly flat lined for the first time in company history. (Quote from Jeff Kavanaugh)

You bet that the recipient will keep reading this report or newspaper article.

Now, the challenge is to create an equally punchy start to your blog articles, going more into detail as the article proceeds.

Use a content pattern

The term content pattern in this sense was coined by Shane Melaugh from Thrive Themes. He developed the model to help content creators move effortlessly from empty page with blinking cursor to cohesive fully written article.

Essentially, every article has five main parts:

  • Headline
  • Intro (using the Pyramid Principle)
  • Content pattern
  • Conclusion
  • Call to action

The middle part is where it gets interesting. Content patterns make the writing process more efficient as they provide the writer with a format to follow.

Content patterns allow you to be more creative than your generic listicle (think “22 employee engagement practices that you should implement in 2021”) without leading you into writer’s block.

An example:

You’re creating an article comparing two SaaS invoicing solutions. Each solution has a set of features, a specific price tag, its own way of offering customer service, and so on. 

The whole of the article would then look like this:

  • Headline
  • Intro
  • Content pattern
    • Person: Who is this comparison for?
    • Problem: What issues does this persona experience with invoicing tools?
    • Solution: Two common software tools – and which one is the best?
    • Feature 1: your heading specifying which feature this section discusses
      • Reviewee 1: how SaaS A performs in terms of Feature 1
      • Reviewee 2: how SaaS B performs in terms of Feature 1
      • Winner: which SaaS comes out best for Feature 1
    • Feature 2: your heading specifying which feature this section discusses
      • Reviewee 1: how SaaS A performs in terms of Feature 2
      • Reviewee 2: how SaaS B performs in terms of Feature 2
      • Winner: which SaaS comes out best for Feature 2
    • Feature 3: your heading specifying which feature this section discusses
      • Reviewee 1: how SaaS A performs in terms of Feature 1
      • Reviewee 2: how SaaS B performs in terms of Feature 1
      • Winner: which SaaS comes out best for Feature 1
  • Conclusion
  • CTA

We call this content pattern “Person, Problem, Solution”.

Instead of just listing features, you have embedded the information into a cohesive story that converts. And you did not have to come up  with this outline by yourself, you just followed the content pattern.

Thrive Themes has a great article on content patterns with even more examples.

These include the following content patterns:

  • What, why, how: A pattern to convey ideas.
  • Pros, Cons, Action​: Another option for comparing solutions and finding a winner.
  • Facts, Opinion: A pattern for thought-leadership content.

Stick to the topic

As Mackenzie Deater from Evenbound contributed to our article on Actionable Tips for Writing Content That Converts:

“Focus, focus, focus. Actionable content that converts should focus on answering just one question or target topic. In today’s era of pillar pages and long-form content, it’s easy to get carried away and answer every question you can think of that’s related to your topic. But, if conversions are your goal, it’s important to stick to answering just one question. The more concise and compelling your answer, the more likely that person is to convert.”

Enrich your content

Humans are storytelling creatures and so you’re not likely to create an article in which every sentence has a purely literal meaning. However, a good article needs more than a bit of figurative speech to come to life, and it needs a lot more to keep the easily-distracted online reader engaged.

Here are a few tactics that not only keep users scrolling but also help you get your point across.

Use metaphors, examples, and personal stories

Metaphors, examples, and anecdotes clarify what you’re explaining. 

Metaphors do this by comparing abstract concepts and theoretical strategies to something the reader already knows, while examples and anecdotes place them in real-life situations, helping the reader understand how they could be of use to them. 

A personal story, finally, makes your article more relatable. I remember writing a test article for a blog about people management. It was my first foray in this niche and I spent hours researching and sourcing authoritative content to link to. It was probably the longest I’d ever worked on an article for a new client, yet when the overall positive comments came back, all I could focus on was their requests for more statistics.

Using statistics is another way you can enrich your blog posts and the better you know the niche, the brand, and the audience you’re SEO writing for, the easier it will be to know which techniques to use when.

Embed quotes

Quotes often serve a double purpose within an article. 

By quoting an expert, you establish a connection between what you’re saying and that expert, giving your article more authority. By quoting a happy customer, you’re building trust and social proof.

At the same time, you can use quotes to break up the text visually by giving them their own paragraph and styling. You can bold them, put them in italic, or put a colored background behind them. 

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Andy Brennan, IBIS World

Include visuals

Another way to break up a long text is by adding visuals like images, videos, infographics, or even GIFs. 

Visuals can

  • explain in a different way what’s also in the text to help clarify a concept.
  • add additional information that’s better shown than told.
  • be purely decorative.

Add links and resources

Link to sources to back up your statements and show users where you got your data from. If you’re active in the YMYL niche, you may want to go even a step further and provide a list of sources at the bottom of your article or mention the sources explicitly whenever you link to them.

Aside from linking to sources, you’ll want to include links to industry blogs and related articles on authoritative sites. This isn’t just beneficial for SEO purposes, it also helps the reader become knowledgeable and see your blog as a valuable source of information.

Just make sure to make external links open in a new tab so that users can easily find their way back to your article.

Offer a clear conclusion or summary

You’ve done it! You’ve managed to keep your reader hooked until the end of the article. Thank them for sticking around by summarizing all they’ve just read and sharing the big takeaway. 

If you don’t do this, they might click away feeling overwhelmed and not taking any action at all – not on your article, and not on the CTA that follows.

Include CTAs in the right places

While longer articles sometimes allow for more, good practice is to place one call-to-action at the top of your article, right below the intro where you’ve given them the most important information, and one at the bottom, below the conclusion.

If you decide to use a button rather than text, create it in contrasting colors to make it stand out and check whether its design works both on mobile and desktop.

The content of your CTA should be enticing and relevant to the topic of the article. If the main goal for the blog is to get people to sign up for a free trial, point out what users can do with that trial that relates to what they just read about.

While it may be tempting to automatically insert the same CTA at the bottom of each post, it won’t perform as well as when you adjust its copy to the content of the article.

Implement copywriting best practices

While content writing and copywriting are two different things, a well-converting article will always make use of some copywriting best practices. This is especially the case when creating the CTA. 

A few questions to ask are:

  • What stage of awareness is the reader of this article in? How likely is it that they knew about our offer before reading the article?  
  • What language does our target customer use? How can you implement that throughout the article and in the CTAs?
  • Are the paragraphs short enough? Is the text broken up by headings and visual elements?

Summary: Don’t save the best for last, enrich as you go, and end in action.

There are various techniques you can use to capture a user’s attention and guide them smoothly through your content until they reach your final call to action. Choose which one works best for you based on the topic of your article and your writing style, but make sure to always:

  • share the most important information first
  • end with a clear summary

… and don’t forget your call-to-actions!

If you’d like more guidance on how to create articles that both rank and convert, get in touch with Flow SEO.

Author: Sofie Couwenbergh

Sofie is an SEO-savvy content strategist, consultant, and writer. She helps brands generate more leads and keep customers engaged through clear, no-fluff website copy and in-depth articles like the one you’ve just read.