Editor’s note: This post was submitted by Muhammad Saleem.
Before you can start writing easily retainable content, you need to understand the kinds of people that will be reading your content.
Active, Reflective, Visual, and Verbal Readers
There are four main kinds of readers that we will be optimizing for.
Active readers are those that will understand and retain your content most when they are actively engaged. These readers prefer the opportunity to see things in context, in action, and the ability to discuss the content with others. They make up most of your commenters.
Reflective readers, on the other hand, prefer to take their time with what they are reading and like to ponder it on their own before (if at all) participating in a discussion.
Additionally, visual readers are ones that are instantly attracted to pictures, charts, graphs, and so on, while placing secondary importance to the rest of the content, and verbal readers focus more on words and their explanation.
All readers are a combination of these traits and in fact we are all partially visual and partially verbal readers. Here are steps to help you write for all these readers and help them retain your content with minimal effort:
1. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
If you want your readers to retain content you write, it is a good idea to repeat key points you make. Every time a reader re-reads a point you have made, that point gets reinforced in the reader’s head and will be easily recalled later.
Repetition also makes sure that your reader will not get lost half-way through an article and will not have to re-read the article to understand it or to memorize the important points.
2. Brevity is Key
While certain points are worth repeating, don’t linger too long on any point and try not to digress. You want to stick as close to the point of your article as possible while ensuring comprehensiveness. The quicker you get to the point, the less fluff there is in your content and it will be easier, faster to read and remember.
3. Please Add a Human Element
If possible, write from experience. No one wants to read a mechanically written post. When you bring yourself into your content, it adds a human element to the text and instantly makes it more memorable. One of the reasons why CopyBlogger is so great is because all of the writers write not only based on current trends/phenomena but they also write based on their past experiences and project forward.
4. Present Opinions and Invoke an Emotional Response
Just like the previous point, it is important that your content invokes an emotional response. Doesn’t matter if the response is positive or negative. As long as you can get your readers to react, you have created memorable content.
I don’t doubt for a second that Ann Coulter doesn’t want people to hate her. In fact I’m certain that all the hate she’s engendered is simply a marketing gimmick that not only makes people pay attention to her but also rabidly respond to her.
5. Use Visual Cues and Formatting
Visual cues will most often be the first thing a read is attracted to and the easiest to remember and recall. Use them wisely to supplement your content and make it stand out. Visual cues aren’t limited to pictures, charts, and graphs, but include any kind of formatting that signals importance of certain pieces of content over other or creates a hierarchy within your content.
6. Keep it Simple
People will be reading your content at all times of the day, and often when they’re tired and taking some downtime. If your content comes across as too complex (unnecessarily convoluted) it will likely be overlooked. Just as important as brevity is simplicity. Keep it short and keep it simple so I can understand what you’re saying even when im exhasuted.
One of the worst things you can do is throw around useless buzzwords to sound important. Write the way you talk, just omit all the filler words like ‘um’, ‘er’, and ‘like’.
An opinionated piece with a human element [3,4] should give any active reader more than enough to participate in a discussion while simplicity and brevity [2,6] will appease the most reflective of readers. Furthermore, while visual cues and formatting  will attract the visual ‘readers’, retainability through repetition and simplicity [1,6] should draw the verbal readers to your content.
Muhammad is a social media consultant and is currently ranked #3 on Digg.