How To Write Intros: the SPEAR Framework

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Written By Jamie
Founder of increasing.com, and here to give you the info you need to either start your making money online journey, grow and improve your niche sites, and build the most meaningful and fulfilling life for you.

Intros are a microcosm of your entire article. While they might only make up 10% (or even less) of your article’s total word count, they may well account for 40% of your total read time, and for affiliate marketing SEO content, 40%+ of your conversions.

Most people gloss over introductions, but they are key to:

  • Mental commitment: Getting the reader to buy into reading the entire article
  • Trusting your authority: Trusting you as an expert whose opinions should be followed
  • Personable: Making readers identify with you and your writing

We developed the SPEAR framework to help our writers curate high-converting intros without too much thought – to make it as natural as possible. It combines all the elements and emotions we aim to incite within the reader, and spurs action and helps us to lead them down the path to solving their needs.

I’ve also included some examples – though a couple go on tangents into the main article content rather than purely within intros. I’ll update this and improve it with more intro-specific use cases when I have time.

SPEAR / EAR Framework: the key elements of strong intros

The reason the title above says SPEAR / EAR, is that if you’re struggling to get every element of the SPEAR framework into your intros, then just work on EAR first. EAR is the 80/20 of the SPEAR intro writing, but SPEAR adds another level to developing an intimate experience with your reader.

Start with EAR, and then move on to SPEAR once youโ€™ve mastered including those three in your intros. In fact, read from E first, and then cycle back to SP afterward. It’ll make more sense.

Here’s the full framework:

  • SSearch / User Intent
  • P – Pain Points
  • E – Expertise
  • A – Audience
  • R – Rapport

Here’s each element in more detail:

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S – Search / User Intent

What exactly is the user looking for? This one is similar to Audience, which is why you can opt for EAR when you just start, but with a couple of key differences.

We don’t necessarily just mean search intent from an AI / Google’s perspective, either.

Your article likely encompasses several subtopics (probably with different H2s). While you personally may have fixated on a particular aspect you find most interesting, readers come in all shapes and sizes — and they’re all interested in different parts, and likely all visited your article from different keywords.

So, always end an intro with a segue, so that the reader knows you will solve their problem:

“In this article, we’ll compare X and Y products over [feature 1], [feature 2], and [feature 3]. We’ll also cover the two main advantages in using [product category] over [other product category], the different uses for [product], and the three key tips to get the most out of your [product].”

If the reader particular cares about any of these parts of the article, for example the three tips to get the most out of this product, then they’ll mentally commit to reading the entire article. These should also go at the end of intros as they form a natural bridge to your main content. Try to make the latter-half parts of your segue as appealing as possible to glue eyeballs in the long haul.

The reader then clearly understands what they will learn, and understands you will meet their intent and needs.

And yes, it also works on a traditional SEO search intent level. Being able to articulate what you’ll teach them, in regards to the topic, requires your article actually hitting search intent in the first place, so in a way it forces you to find and adapt to Google’s search intent.

For example: if you’re writing an article to hit the keyword “best chinchilla treats”, you may assume without adequate research that this is a standard affiliate article.

But go ahead and write this article, and I promise you it won’t rank top 3.

Why? Because every article focuses on “safe” treats. The search intent isn’t to find the best products, but is a health-focused listicle keyword.

It’s not a “best for pleasure”, it’s a “what won’t kill my beloved pet” article. And Google decides this based on what it feels it knows best.

Understand your audience, but also understand the algorithm.

P – Pain Points

Kahnemann and Tverskyโ€™s Prospect Theory details how we weigh wins and losses differently. People are loss-averse: they dislike losses more than an equal win. Even if thereโ€™s a low chance of a loss, people are very risk-averse when there is a high cost of loss.

And for sales-focused writing (especially intros and titles) you can capitalize on this.

Source: dreamendstate

Mentioning (and accentuating) the negative results or effects of NOT owning a product are usually more powerful than promoting the positives of owning it.

Talking about “dirt-laden curtains and unclean floors” in a cleaning product article, and the resulting embarrassment when your friends visit, is usually more powerful than saying you’ll have sparkling clean floors.

In your titles you can do the same:

Top 5 Best [Product] For Cleaning (And 2 To Avoid!) 2022


As long as you hit Level 2, however, promoting positives can be fine:

  • Level 0: mentioning a product spec (1 hour run time)
  • Level 1: selling a product benefit (extra-long 1-hour run time for cleaning your kitchen without having to recharge)
  • Level 2: selling an experience (the ecstasy coarsing through your body as you relax on your comfy sofa, knowing your entire kitchen is clear, with the whole day remaining owing to your new vacuum’s super-quick and long-lasting run time).
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Key tip: Generally, negative emotions are more powerful than positive ones. Loss avoidance is a more powerful motivator than utility gain.

Again, you need to understand what your reader needs, so you need to hit search intent. And then weaponize that to capitalize off of loss-avoidance to sell a solution — along with evocative, visual imagery and based on scenarios the reader can identify with and traverse across the article’s story with you, landing on the best solution for them.

Articulating a reader’s pain points is also a trust-builder as if you can name someone’s problem via the pain points, they’ll assume you have the solution. This articulation makes them trust you — also building rapport.

E – Expertise

Expertise is the narcissistic act of subtly telling people how great you are, without them overtly knowing.

It’s an art; it requires ascension above impostor syndrome; and it’s key to making sales. Also, if you want to believe it’s actually a non-zero factor in content, consider the EAT benefits.

Mention anything that infers expert knowledge in the reader’s mind. Show, don’t tell.

By show, don’t tell, I mean that it’s more impactful if you don’t need to ram anything down anyone’s throat. If someone discovers how important you are, it’s more impressive than someone insisting that you, in fact, are important.

Some examples:

“Since testing 15 of the best-selling vacuums, I’ve found that…”

or:

“During my 8 years in the industry, I discovered that…”

S.A.S — Stats Are Support

If you don’t have expertise, or don’t feel comfortable imposing yourself as an authority, you can use stats.

Back up your point with quotable stats, names, etc — they’re a quick and easy way to boost perceived authority, as though you’re just taking data from elsewhere, you’ll be associated with knowledgable third-party entities.

Confident value judgments

If you’re able to make a confident value judgment early on, you cement yourself as an expert. People who don’t know exactly what they’re talking about make vague claims, as they’re more easily disproven.

Imagine a police interrogation, but you’re guilty.

“Where were you at 9:30pm last night?” “What were you doing at X location with Y friend?”

Say anything detailed and you’ll get holes punched in your story. Because you actually did the crime, so you’re lying.

But if you didn’t do it, you can say exactly where you were, who you were with, and what time you did it.

If you really know your niche, you can make these high-level value judgments with full confidence, because you have intimate experience with the products and subject matter in question. The reader understands this, and trusts any specifics you can say.

A – Audience

  • Who are your readers?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What are they NOT looking for?
  • What is their problem they want you to solve?
  • What particular language will they respond to?

Audience is the precursor to search intent. Rather than the intent itself, what can you write concisely in your intro to make your reader think:

“Yes! Finally! This person understands me!

And as we’ve been over, if you can vocalize someone’s problem, they’ll assume you have the solution.

Writing for your audience, and even better, each segment in your audience, reassures them they’re in the right place.

Round-ups like:

  • Product 1: best overall
  • Product 2: best for professionals
  • Product 3: best budget pick

Target each segment of your audience when the keyword encompasses several customer segments. E.g. best vacuum.

But for more concrete articles such as “best cheap vacuums”, you can tweak your copy to focus on getting them their best bargain, informing them of the likely features they’ll have to give up in each price range, etc. You can even target sub-segments within “cheap” (under $50, under $100, under $150, etc).

Use niche-specific language they’ll respond to, and also cater your scenarios and stories to problems that your audience really faces — and around the problem they want to solve.

If your audience for this topic doesn’t have money (“best cheap vacuums”) then don’t recommend the big industrial stuff.

Likewise, for “best professional vacuums”, talk up the industrial-level product specs and put the big ticket items in front of them, and use different scenarios — how effective it is for pest control, rather than your home tile and grout — that your buying segment will more strongly identify with.

Rapport

Again, if you can name someone’s problem, they’ll trust that you have the answer.

But beyond that, how else can you be personable and likeable, yet not too casual that they still trust your expertise?

It’s important to build rapport before you ever try to sell. Nobody wants to feel like the product in your funnel, or the victim, they want to feel like the winner from the exchange. They’ll be turned off if they feel like you’re only there to push them product.

Instead, use scenarios (based on your knowledge of your audience, their pain points, and their search intent, as well as your expertise (while being likeable), to build the rapport that ensures your product recommendations are not taken offensively.

Bring in any personal experience that you can (expertise and rapport), and don’t be scared of making a confident value judgment informing readers NOT to think a certain way about the product, or telling them that a certain factor is a myth and not actually important (expertise), as this presents you as the trusty friend who they can take advice from — like they’ve got the insider info.

Rapport is a key point in its own right, but it is heavily inspired by the other elements within SPEAR.

If you can put all these together, you’ll be able to write intros (and content) that converts with ease.

Best of luck implementing SPEAR, and for more content writing, SEO, and affiliate marketing tips and tricks, sign up to my email newsletter below ๐Ÿ™‚

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Photo of author
Jamie
Founder of increasing.com, and here to give you the info you need to either start your making money online journey, grow and improve your niche sites, and build the most meaningful and fulfilling life for you.

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