Audiences are distractable. They have tons of content coming at them from every angle, every time they go online.
You only have a limited window of time to get them hooked and firmly capture their interest.
Step one is a compelling headline that piques their curiosity. But once they've clicked through to your content, there's still no guarantee they'll read through your entire page or blog post.
You need to keep them interested in what happens next.
One of the best ways to do that is a storytelling technique called an “open loop.”
A strong opening is the key to keeping them interested. With the open loop device, you're giving them something interesting but unresolved at the beginning.
At the end, you return to it, creating a loop.
Because the payoff is reserved for later, people will keep reading to find out what happens next.
You've seen Pulp Fiction, right? Remember that opening scene with “Pumpkin” and “Honey Bunny” in the diner?
That's a great example of an open loop.
The scene ends without showing you what actually happens. So for the rest of the film, in the back of your mind, you keep wondering what happened in that diner scene.
This technique is something you can use in your own copywriting and content marketing.
But how does this translate to sales copy?
A recent article from Copyblogger explains how to use the open loop narrative device to create compelling copy.
Loops that move people to act
So, how can you use an open loop in your copy to not only persuade, but also prompt action? Take a look at the copy for this radio ad written by Roy Williams for a diamond merchant called Justice Jewelers:
“Antwerp, Belgium, is no longer the diamond capital of the world.
Thirty-four hours on an airplane. One way. Thirty. Four. Hours. That’s how long it took me to get to where 80 percent of the world’s diamonds are now being cut. After 34 hours, I looked bad. I smelled bad. I wanted to go to sleep. But then I saw the diamonds.
Unbelievable. They told me I was the first retailer from North America ever to be in that office.
Only the biggest wholesalers are allowed through those doors. Fortunately, I had one of ’em with me, a lifelong friend who was doing me a favor.
Now pay attention, because what I’m about to say is really important: As of this moment, Justice Jewelers has the lowest diamond prices in America, and I’m including all the online diamond sellers in that statement.
Now you and I both know that talk is cheap. So put it to the test. Go online. Find your best deal. Not only will Justice Jewelers give you a better diamond, we’ll give you a better price, as well.
I’m Woody Justice, and I’m working really, really hard to be your jeweler. Thirty-four hours of hard travel, one way. I think you’ll be glad I did it.”
Okay, so the ad starts off by setting up an open loop. If Antwerp is no longer the diamond cutting capital of the world, which city is the new one?
But here’s the thing … we’re never told the city, or even exactly how low the prices are. To do that, you need to take action by heading over to the Justice Jewelers website, combined with a challenge to find lower prices anywhere else online.
Less artful ads would lead with the claim of the lowest prices thanks to an exclusive source of diamonds. Skepticism would naturally abound.
Here, the storytelling setup is incredibly engaging, even if you’re not in the market for diamonds. If you are in the market, the lingering open loop means the listener is more likely to retain, recall, and act on the information.
Can you see how this might work on a landing page aimed at getting an email opt-in? You open the loop, and the only way the visitor can close it is to sign up for the lead magnet.
That’s just one example of the many uses of open loops. As I mentioned earlier, you can incorporate open loops in your marketing content, your sales copy, and your live presentations, all making you inherently more engaging and persuasive.
You can learn more about implementing open loops in your own content over at Copyblogger.
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