Articles and newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your network, but how do you get people to read them? Try writing in list format, it's easier than it sounds and makes a world of difference. Here's why:
1. We've Got Shrinking Attention Spans
Many of us have an obsessive need to check our phone and email constantly, and the distractions online make is difficult for us to focus sometimes. Feels like we've all got ADD! When there's a list, at least we know we'll get the basics even if we get distracted before we finish the article.
2. We Want Easy Answers
Who doesn't? Sometimes the only way to attack a difficult challenge is to make a list of simple steps, and likewise when we are faced with a challenge, we find it comforting to see that there are really only X number of things we need to think about to fix it. Breaking it down so it's easier to digest is a sure way to get people reading.
3. Lists Immediately Tell the Reader How Long The Commitment is Going to Be
Ever notice when you're taking a survey that they usually let you know the page you are on and how many pages there are total? This practice is common across many forms of communication from websites to books. That's because it's been proven that when one doesn't know how long a process is going to take, we bail sooner and out of frustration. If you want someone to finish a survey, or look through a slideshow, or read through an article, letting them know at the beginning how long it's going to be actually encourages them to stay to the end.
4. We Don't Read Linearly Anymore
At least, not online. Our eye scans and jumps around to get the gist before we commit. Studies show that the way an email is read is as follows:
1) Read the subject, decide it's worth opening.
2) Read the intro line, decide it's worth moving forward
3) scan the headlines (or list titles, in this example), see if you want more info
4) read the paragraphs of the headlines that intrigue you
5) Maybe read the conclusion (step 4 might be eliminated for the super-time crunched)
So if you want to get a point across, make the bolded headlines the most important points.
5. Easier to remember
We've got information overload, so a list is a great way to have the main points stick in your head. It's valuable to actually read the information about each topic, but the topic itself will help you recall that information more quickly.
Want people to read your carefully crafted article chock-full of valuable information? Try breaking your points into list form, at least once in awhile. More people will open it purely out of curiosity to see what your believe those 5 most important blah blah blahs are. (You clicked on this one didn't you?)