Bullet points make you a stronger content marketer?
Absolutely, if you’re good at writing them. In fact, being a master at writing exceptional bullet points is one of the most important copywriting skills around, second only to headline writing.
The goal of strategic bullet points is primarily to keep people reading. You’re highlighting easily digestible bits of important information, which keeps your reader’s attention focused and breaks up dense pools of text.
The downside is that if you write weak, boring bullet points, you give the reader an express invitation to leave. People scan content to decide if they want to keep reading, but also as a way to justify not reading.
So let’s write some better bullet points.
1. External fascinations
These types of fascinating bullet points are usually found in sales copy for information products and membership sites, and they function like headlines that prompt a purchase or other action.
Also known as “blind” bullets, they hint at the content of a product or service and create curiosity without revealing the actual substance.
You can also use these bullets to prompt an opt-in or subscription tied to a free report, audio, or video.
Here’s an oft-cited example from ace copywriter John Carlton:
“The amazing ‘Towel Hanging’ trick that increases the strength of your erection … plus your lovemaking stamina … allowing you to supercharge your love life in a very short time! (You have to experience these kinds of ‘rocket-burst’ orgasms to believe they’re possible! See page 139.)”
I don’t know about you, but that got my attention.
2. Internal fascinations
Internal fascinations are pretty much identical to external, except they’re designed to persuade people to continue reading the content they’re currently reading.
If you have a long article that you want to sell people on reading all the way through, you might lead with some teaser bullet points that captivate the imagination.
By reading this article you’ll learn:
- 3 counterintuitive activities that will improve your business
- How to turn your process into a product you can sell
- Why you’re not normal, and why that’s a good thing
3. Bullet chunking
Extracting bullets out of compound sentences helps you drive home a point while also increasing the usability of your content. Attention spans are short for sure, and reading dense paragraphs of text on a computer screen is still nowhere as easy as in print.
Don’t forget to begin each bullet point with the same part of speech and maintain the same grammatical form.
Here’s an example.
Fascinating bullet points are great for:
- Drawing people back into the copy they skimmed
- Prompting the download of a free offer
- Causing the click of a link
- Driving subscriptions to your website
- Triggering the purchase of your digital product
- Initiating a new client relationship
4. Authority bullets
Authority bullets are used to recite the data and proof that support your argument.
You want this information strongly presented in order to bolster the credibility of your content and your level of authority as a subject matter expert. As with all bullet points, try to turn dry, factual information into interesting reading if at all possible.
Here’s one approach.
Don’t believe me when I say reading is an uncommon activity? Check these facts:
- 58 percent of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school
- 42 percent of college graduates never read another book
- 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year
- 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years
- 57 percent of new books are not read to completion
Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.
5. Cliffhanger bullets
Cliffhanger bullets tease and foreshadow what’s coming up next or in the near future.
You can close an installment in a content series with a cluster of teasers that have people looking forward to the next installment, which can also spur subscriptions. You can also use cliffhanger bullets to lay the groundwork for an upcoming promotion, launch, or special content event.
Check this one out …
Next week on Copyblogger:
- Discover how to ruthlessly cut words from your copy to make more sales
- Learn two essential elements of irresistible content that can dramatically transform your website
- Find out three simple questions you can ask yourself to craft better headlines
See you then?
Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on July 14, 2008.