One of the biggest challenges in business blogging is how to close an article.
Typically, you see one of three tendencies:
- Forgetting the close altogether.
- Awkwardly restating the main point.
- Turning the article into a sales page and making an overt sales pitch.
Clearly, content writers aren’t sure of how to draw things to a close and end gracefully. Which means the end of an article is more of an afterthought than a destination.
So today, I want to talk about the art of the close in a business blog. In particular, we’ll talk about five ways to close your article so you can finish gracefully and encourage engagement without resorting to a sales pitch.
Full circle: Remind readers of your original promise
Over the years, I’ve discovered that if you can’t state the purpose of an article in one sentence, you don’t really know what you want to say. But if you can, writing is easy—including writing a powerful close.
All you have to do is circle back to where you started, explaining how everything you’ve talked about supports your original statement. Then add a final thought or challenge.
While this sounds easy enough, in practice, it’s hard to do. You don’t want to copy and paste your thesis. And you don’t want to tack on an unrelated idea that doesn’t add value.
You want to treat your close as a destination. In my opinion, a benefit statement is the best way to do this. And it can be as simple as Oli Gardner’s conclusion here.
In this case, it’s just a phrase that reminds people of the value of the information they’ve read: “which improves conversions.”
It tells readers of why they need this information, so they’re more likely to remember and enagage with it.
The direct approach: Ask for a response
Because content marketing is an indirect form of marketing, with the goals of engagement, relationship-building and generating interest in your product/brand, comments and social shares are a good measure of how well you’re doing.
But you don’t have to leave it to chance. You can ask for engagement. See how Sonia Simone does it in this Copyblogger article.
See how easy it is? Just ask questions and invite people to answer them in a comment.
The task list: Tell people what to do now
There are different types of content: idea-based and application-based.
The first shares information or ideas. The second goes one step further. Instead of just sharing ideas, it tells people how they can apply those ideas to their own projects or problems.
Even if you aren’t writing a how-to article, telling people what to do next or how to do it themselves can make a strong close for your content.
Like this close by Chris Hexton on Crazy Egg.
After sharing useful, detailed information, he wraps it up with a compelling close:
- He tells readers why he chose the examples they just read about.
- He gives a specific benefit of learning to do what they do.
- He shares a simple concept that adds to readers’ understanding.
- He assigns a task that will help them get started.
He could have stopped there, but he goes even further to engage readers by asking questions that encourage commenting. This is a great way to give readers a satisfying experience on your blog.
An invitation to contribute: Ask for more input
Not sure what to tell people to do next? It’s okay. As a blogger, you don’t always have to be the expert. You can be the question-asker, the researcher, or the compiler of information instead.
This is a twist on the popular “ask for comments” strategy, and it’s as easy as asking readers to add to your content or share their expertise in the comments. People love to feel smart, and this is a great way to give them that platform.
Here are two posts that do this well.
This one, from Unbounce, directly asks for input from readers:
And this one comes from ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse. It’s a little less direct, simply stating that he’s “keen to learn.”
The close + an offer: Tie it to one of your products
Content is not for selling. But let’s be honest. Your content is part of a sale funnel, and it is acceptable to talk about topics that relate to your products or services.
The key is to make sure your articles provide value all by themselves. Then post an ad below the article or make a low-key offer in the close of your post.
I like how Leo Babauta does it in this article from Zen Habits.
For all practical purposes, the post ends above the last subhead. If you want to stop reading there, you can.
But if you’re the least bit interested in learning more, Leo gives a low-pressure pitch that links to a sales page.
How do you know which close to use?
It’s up to you. The close of an article should do two things:
- Wrap up your ideas in a satisfying way.
- Create a sense of closure.
Hopefully, it will also:
- Invite engagement, such as commenting or social sharing.
- Build relationship.
- Tell people what to do next.
How you do that is up to you. But a good place to start is with one of the five closes you just read about. Any of them can help you craft an ending that’s a destination and not just an afterthought.
Now what about you? Is there a type of close that works well for you? Share your ideas in the comments below.