Your headline is the single most important part of your web copy. It’s what your readers see first, it’s your first (and only) chance to capture their imagination, and if it doesn’t do its job, the odds of them reading anything else on the page are slim to none. But what’s the second most important part of your copy?
The first sentence of the first paragraph, of course.
The first sentence of your body copy needs to build on the momentum you created in the headline. If you create a fantastic headline, only to follow it with a lacklustre, irrelevant or boring first sentence, it’s going to be a huge disappointment. So here are a few tips for creating an effective first sentence:
Start with a question
By asking the reader a question you’re forcing them to sub-consciously respond, and thereby engage with your copy. Simple yet effective.
Use a shocking or thought-provoking statistic
We all love facts and statistics – especially when they’re shocking or unexpected, so what better way to open your first paragraph? Statistics are a great way of invoking a little bit of fear or concern in your readers as well. “Did you know that over half of Britain’s drivers don’t check their tyre pressure regularly?” or “4 out of 5 women are wearing the wrong size bra” will immediately get people thinking.
Tell a story
Using an anecdote is a great way to get your reader engaged – especially if it’s a scenario they can relate to. Using “we” and “you” (as in “We’ve all been there…) also creates a feeling of camaraderie, making your reader feel that you and your company are just like them, and therefore know what they need.
Paint a mental picture
The imagination is a powerful tool. If you can create a picture in your reader’s mind, they’re far more likely to engage with your copy and really understand the benefits that you could offer them. Make use of phrases like “Picture the scene…” and “Imagine this…”