A few months ago, I was researching a book for a client about copywriting. I came across a passage about the Zeigarnik Effect – the psychological principle showing that human beings can’t help but want to know what happens next.
It applies to just about everything. Cliffhanger endings. Soap opera style storytelling. Half finished photographs.
If you give someone half an image, they will bend over backwards to find the other half, assuming it’s available.
Marketers have been using this to their advantage for a long time, and it’s impressive to see what they are able to generate because of it.
It’s an incredibly powerful psychological trigger and even when we know someone is using it against us, we respond as they expect.
And for this reason, it NEEDS to be a part of how you tell stories on your blog, in your videos and on your Facebook Page.
Telling a Good Story
Storytelling is a different topic entirely – it’s so fundamental to the way you connect with your audience that without it your content will fall all too flat.
For years on my personal blog, AnthonyChatfield.com, I would write content in a professional tone, using it to promote myself to prospective clients. When I started telling stories about your life, readership doubled and comments tripled. People LOVE to read about other people and the stories you tell can resonate so much better than just another list of facts.
But even with a great story, you’re dropping the ball when you don’t use the natural curiosity of your audience to great effect.
Here’s an example.
A few years ago I stumbled upon a secret strategy that was allowing one of my clients to get free traffic from the biggest ad network in the world. He didn’t even realize he was doing it.
After researching the implications, experimenting with a handful of applications and testing it in new campaigns, I was convinced – this was a winning strategy.
But then something happened that changed everything…
Don’t you want to read what happens next?
I made this up, so you can relax – there is no secret strategy to get free ads from Google (that I know of), but the cliffhanger in that story would have convinced a high percentage of readers to click on any link I presented them with.
Whether for an opt-in download or a sales page related to a product selling that secret.
The same can be true of your blog if you play things right.
Creating Natural Cliffhangers
Artificial suspense can be distracting, and at times a little bit annoying. So it needs to feel natural and follow the flow of your story. Here are some tips for creating natural curiosity in your readers that doesn’t feel (too) contrived.
- Cross Media – Start in one form of media and transition to another. Video to text. Text to video. Facebook to blog. You get the idea – get people to follow a trail that makes them stick to one or more of your platforms.
- Run a Series – Run a series of posts or videos that play on each other. Tell a longer story than a single post can contain while teaching valuable lessons and encourage people to come back the next day and the day after for more.
- Get an Opt-In – Whether for an email list or a member’s area, get people to login so they can access the next layer of your story or advice.
If you create a strong and compelling story, lead someone to a specific action you want them to perform and then cut off, I guarantee they will want more than anything else to see what’s behind the next curtain.
It’s not a surefire path to selling, but it will create a relationship that be leveraged into a sale down the line.