I’ve read a ton of articles about asking questions in the headline of a blog article, a web page, or the cover of a brochure. But asking questions within marketing content can be a powerful technique that helps you build a stronger connection with your audience.
We ask questions during everyday conversation all the time. We do it to show people we’re interested. To listen. To learn. To show we care about someone else’s viewpoints. To make the conversation less one-sided. To pique someone’s curiosity.
When you think about it, you can learn a lot about a person (or a company) by the questions they ask, and the questions they don’t ask.
As a general rule, if something works in a real-world conversation, it will work in your marketing content, not just the headline. Because good marketing content should sound like people talk.
Asking questions within your marketing content gets people thinking. It allows them to pause, even if only for a split second, to reflect and respond silently to themselves. It slows down the pace so they do less skimming and more reading. It gets them more involved in what you’re talking about.
All these things make people become less passive and more active in the “conversation.” Asking questions can keep people engaged and deepen that engagement.
To Answer or Not to Answer?
In some cases, asking a question is simply a preview. It tells people that helpful information is on the way. You’re asking a question that people want answered, so they keep reading.
In other cases, you ask a question because you want the reader to answer it for themselves. The answer could very well be an admission by the reader that a problem or need exists.
Ideally, your content would then convey to the reader, without being overtly salesy, why your company is the right choice to solve that problem or fill that need. It would also help them understand the results you deliver.
If the reader admits a problem or need exists and has a sense of how you can help them address it, they’ll be more likely to consider your organization as the solution.
And take action.
Asking the Right Questions
Asking questions for the sake of asking questions is silly. Asking a question with an obvious answer isn’t particularly interesting. It can also make people think you’re not capable of asking or answering hard questions.
Just like any other marketing or content writing technique, using questions should be done strategically and for a specific purpose.
As I mentioned, questions should pique someone’s curiosity and signal that helpful information is coming, or get people to admit that a problem exists. Open-ended questions that explain why and how are typically most effective.
Using a “yes” or “no” question is generally thought to be a bad idea, especially if the answer is “no.” Many experts believe these types of questions give the impression that you don’t have any information of value to share.
That may be true most of the time. But not always. For example:
“If you die tomorrow, will your family be financially secure?”
If I’m a retirement planner, I’m looking for people who say “no.” At the very least, I’m looking for people who aren’t sure.
“Is obesity keeping you from enjoying life?
If I’m a nutritionist or some other health and wellness practitioner, I’m looking for people who say “yes.”
In a recent article I wrote about writing your own content, I asked the following questions:
“Even if you write your content after business hours and it doesn’t eat into “work time”, is that what you really want to be doing? If you’re going to put in extra hours, wouldn’t you rather use that time to improve your business strategy and take care of your customers?”
I want the first answer to be “no” and the second answer to be “yes.”
A question can have a simple “yes” or “no” answer and still be thought-provoking. People who provide the answer you want are more likely to keep reading. Those who would answer the opposite aren’t your target audience, so it doesn’t matter if they keep reading.
The Real Question
The real question to ask before you start asking questions is, “Will the reader be more likely or less likely to keep reading if I ask this question?”
Just like the job of the headline is to get people to start reading your content, the goal of the first paragraph is to get them to read the second paragraph. And so on.
Asking questions within your marketing content is just one more content writing technique at your disposal. Use carefully worded, purpose-driven questions to make your content more engaging and build stronger connections with your readers.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? Why?