034 5 Ways to Create the Perfect Ending that Your Content Deserves

The end of your article is one last final opportunity to catch and keep the attention of a reader. Don’t screw it up.

The sad thing is is that the close of an article, sales letter, or an email is usually an afterthought. It’s something we writers rush to get to, and wipe our hands clean when we write that last word.

That’s unfortunate, because your close is the one last opportunity you have to flag down a reader barreling through your article.

In this 8-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • The two phenomena of memory that get thrown around (we only care about the 2nd one)
  • Why asking your readers to end world hunger is a terrible way to close an article
  • The easy closing trick developed from eye-tracking studies
  • How asking the right kind of question is a great way to end
  • The absolutely perfect ending (and how it’s related to your opening)

The Show Notes

5 Ways to Create the Perfect Ending that Your Content Deserves

Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, a digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.

Demian Farnworth: Howdy friend, and welcome to another episode of Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I am Demian Farnworth, your host, your muse, your digital recluse, and the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media.

And guess what? We’ve made it to episode 34. And if you haven’t listened to the previous thirty three, jump back when you get a chance. You know, like this evening when you’ve got nothing else to do … except put the kids to bed, shove the dishes in the trash and the trash in the dishwasher …

Each episode is only 4 to 12 minutes a piece. So if you started around 10 PM, and listened straight through without stop, without getting up for the restroom or a snack or a drink, you’d be done by, eh, 2 or 3 AM. Just in time to wake up for work.

Maybe perhaps that’s not such a great idea to do it in one sitting … so .. let me just say this … While all the episodes before now are not essential to follow along with today’s episode, it is helpful for you as a web writer in the long run. Lots of great resources there for you whenever you get a chance.

Now today we are going to close out our series on essential on-page elements … where we’ve talked about headlines, bullets, white space, transitional words, and so on and so on … and now we are going to close it all out by talking about closers.

Or how to close an article.

The sad thing is is that the close of an article, sales letter, or an email is usually an afterthought. It’s something we writers rush to get to, and wipe our hands clean when we write that last word.

That’s unfortunate, because your close is one last opportunity to flag down a reader barrelling through your article. He swept through based upon the headline. He’s eyed your subheadlines, bullet points, and links.

Now he is eyeing your close. Particularly that last sentence. Yeah, there are people who do that. Just like people who read the end of a book first.

These scanners?! What are they doing?

What that means is the close, that last sentence, shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be a striking statement that gets your reader to cock their head and say, “Wait, did I just miss something? Did I just miss something good?”

The Two Phenomena of Memory that Get Thrown Around (We Only Care About the 2nd One

Here’s the thing: there are two phenomenons about memory that get thrown around a lot in psychology and sociology circles, and you’ve probably heard of them.

One is called the primacy effect, and it’s basically just this idea that people tend to remember beginnings better than the middle. They remember the beginnings of lists of numbers or names or facts rather than the middle.

But the other one, the one we care about today is called the recency effect, meaning people tend to remember endings more than the middle.

In other words, what you say first and last matters. People will remember your openings. And they will remember your endings, too. The middle? Sorry. Not so much.

This is like something Sacha Molitorisz said in an 2003 article: “When a film resolves itself well audiences leave satisfied and content even if the preceding 90 minutes have been uninspiring. If, however, the climax is forced or implausible, the preceding scenes will be stripped of any poignancy.”

So lesson one: nail the ending. So how do you do that? Fortunately, I’ve got five tips for you.

1. Why Asking Your Readers to End World Hunger Is a Terrible Way to Close an Article

One. “Shrink the change,” this is an idea introduced by one of our contributing writers, Henneke. And what she means when she says “shrink the change” is kind of this idea of one small step can change your life … in a manageable call to action.

So instead of asking your audience to end world hunger, which is big and vague and nebulous and impossible, much better to simply say, “Start buying an extra canned good every time you go shopping and take it to your nearest food drive.”

Simple, easy to do. That’s shrinking the change …

2. The Easy Closing Trick Developed From Eye-Tracking Studies

Another great way to end an article is to summarize the conclusion. See, when people read — we know this again from just eye tracking studies — that people will read the headline, and then people will scan the article, and then read the ending because they’re looking and hoping for that summary.

Give them a summary of what you just wrote.

3. Ending with a Cliffhanger

Three, end with a cliffhanger. You know your ending, where your keeping something away from the reader. You initiate an action, you drive the car off the cliff. But then you end the article or the episode right there. And in order to relieve that tension, they have to see the next episode or read the next article.

4. How Asking the Right Kind of Question Is a Great Way to End

Four, end with a question. A contemplative question. You want to send the reader away feeling like they may not be as smart as they think they are, but perhaps they are missing something. So your last sentence is of the “Is this really as important as we think it is” variety.

5. The Absolutely Perfect Ending (and How It’s Related To Your Opening)

Finally, the ending of a good article feels like the click of a box shutting, so that there’s closure to it. And what I mean by that is you’ve referred back to something you mentioned in the beginning. So you come full circle.

Let’s say you opened the article with a story about a character named Ingrid. In the middle you launch into the crux of the problem you are addressing, and then once the audience has completely forgotten about the opening and Ingrid, during the close you trot Ingrid back into the picture, meshing the opening and the middle idea into a new whole thing that springs a new whole thought into the head of the reader — one that makes him say, “Aha.”

This makes the article feel like one long connected idea. Fluid, seamless. Coherent.

So that’s five ways to close an article or sales letter or email. Anything you write … or anything you record for the matter, including podcasts.

In the meantime, take care.