“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” Caught your attention, didn’t we? While the context in which they are used has been continually changing, the essence of producing good writing hooks in business writing has remained the same for generations. And it’s still a powerful tool for marketers to distinguish your brand and engage users in an ever-accelerating world.
Below, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive writing guide on writing hooks for business by looking at its past, its future, and best practices for using it today.
The Origins of Hooks in Business Writing and E-Commerce
Just like business writing itself, writing hooks to make marketing campaigns more effective is nothing new. Today, we mostly think about business writing in terms of internet marketing, where the main goal is to help your business stand out from the thousands of options that consumers have at their fingertips.
However, before that, hooks were also used in other forms of media, such as radio or TV. Here, the goal is mainly to stop the person from switching radio or TV channels before listening to the whole ad. The hope is that ads are so memorable and effective that your brand or product is the first one the consumer remembers when they next have to make buying decisions.
We can trace back hooks even further to the age of printed media. The most classic and cliché example would be newsboys hawking newspapers on busy city streets by shouting slogans such as “Extra! Extra! Read all about it.”
Regardless of the context, the main goal of business writing and a hook is to grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to keep reading, watching, or listening to what you have to say. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an email, website landing page, highway billboard, or TV or radio advert.
To give you an idea of the potential of an effective hook, some have inextricably interwoven themselves with our social fabric:
- Nike “Just Do It”
- McDonalds “I’m Lovin’ It”
- Apple “Think Different”
- L’Oreal “Because You’re Worth It”
Writing Hooks in Different Genres in Business
Regardless of the medium, you’ll want to use these universal techniques when writing hooks:
- Write about what motivates and interests your audience
- Introduce an element of FOMO (Fear of missing out)
- Be brief, to the point, and make it universal
- Use strong language with emotion and urgency
- Make a clear value proposition
- Make it memorable by thinking outside the box, being surprising, or housing humour
- Make a clear call to action (CTA)
Hooks are short, so you don’t have to use all of these elements in a single hook. For example, Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan incorporated points 1, 3, 4, and 7, while McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ IT” uses 2, 3, 4, and 6.
Hooks in Emails and Memos
For business emails, the most important writing hooks will be in the subject line. 47% of recipients decide to open an email based purely on the subject line. Just personalizing the subject line can already boost open rates by 10-14%.
You should also have another hook in the intro to make sure the user continues reading after opening the email. Finally, finish it off with a strong CTA so that the reader knows what action you want them to take afterwards.
Reports and Proposals Contain Hooks
The title should clearly summarise the main point of the report and state the importance of reading it. You should then immediately make a clear problem statement and highlight the opportunities or value that can be unlocked from solving it.
Another effective strategy is to start with a question to draw the user in. For example, “how much better would your life be if your printer never jammed?” Facts and statistics are also effective at grabbing the reader’s attention and giving the report authority.
Writing Hooks for Social Media and Online Content
These channels are often fast-paced with huge amounts of content, so it’s vital that yours stands out from the crowd. The key feature is to make your hook as eye-catching as possible. That means using strong language with a sense of urgency, emotion, shock-value, surprise, or humour. If you can, incorporating visuals into the hook will also help it stand out.
The Impact of Technology on Hooks in Business Writing
As we explained above, writing hooks have been around for a long time. But, business writing has had to adapt in how it uses hooks to be more effective for different types of media and how they are consumed.
The main challenge today is that we’ve well and truly entered the age of information. Every time a consumer goes online, they can just do a Google search and have hundreds of tailored recommendations at their fingertips within seconds. If they don’t like it, they can immediately do another search and get new results. The same goes for almost any other online platform, like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
The first result on Google SERPs has an average 39.8% click-through rate, which quickly drops off to 18% for 2nd, 10.5% for 3rd, etc., etc. A good CTR is considered to be between just 1%-3%, depending on the industry.
This overload of information has not only made consumers pickier but also less patient. Many users leave a page after just 10-20 seconds if they don’t see a clear value proposition.
What Hooks Must Do
So, regardless of where you market online, there are two main things a hook must do today:
- Help you stand out from the crowd to improve CTRs, email open rates, and get more eyes on your content, products, or brand.
- Once the reader lands on your content, it should keep them there and encourage them to continue reading or exploring.
- Finally, you want the hook to lead to a CTA that inspires readers to take action before they bounce to another page.
The Future of Writing Hooks for Business
As it has done for more than a century, writing hooks for business must continue to evolve alongside changing communication channels and consumer behaviours.
While it is already highly competitive, more businesses are still joining the digital marketplace, which will only up the ante. Creating effective hooks will become grow in importance as businesses vie for consumers’ increasingly divided attention. Hooks will also need to be optimised specifically for different online and mobile platforms, such as social media, email, and mobile apps, to take full advantage of each platform’s unique characteristics.
In an impersonal online world, marketers will need to rely more on storytelling and emotional appeal to create hooks that resonate with readers on a deeper level and appeal to their sense of identity.
Technologies, such as generative AI, are not yet at the maturity to create personalised, creative, and effective hooks for all situations. However, they are already incredibly powerful tools to analyse consumer trends and behaviours to help identify keywords and topics for hooks. For now, human creativity and intuition is still an essential component in business writing, but this may change as AI continues to evolve.
Hooks are a Critical Component of Writing
Writing hooks are a critical component of business writing to reach and engage with consumers. A well-crafted hook will grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to keep reading or listening to what you have to say across any medium or channel. As access to information and the use of the internet continues to grow, hooks will be essential for brands to win the race for the end consumer’s attention.
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