What is the number one thing that gets clicks to your blog? Headlines. What is the written content that pops up when your blog gets posted on social media? Headlines.
You get the point. Headlines matter!
According to CopyBlogger, “8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest."
One of people's biggest complaints about content marketing is that often times the content is confusing. To avoid this negative reaction, write your content as you would a press release. Make sure your purpose is clear, and arrange your content in a logical, simple manner.
And, be sure your headline entices the reader to open the email. Subject lines seem like a small part of your job, but in actuality, they matter more than anything else!
Read on to learn how to create winning subject and headlines.
20 Tips to Writing Headlines
A subject line or headline is the thing people see when they receive a pitch. It’s crucial for all subjects to make readers think and entice them to open the email. They need to hint at the story but never fully give it away.
While there is no specific formula for the perfect blog title, research has shown that there are a few techniques that prove successful. Thanks to Startup Moon for these research-based tips!
- Use words commonly found in viral posts: surprising, science, history, hacks, huge/big, and critical.
- Use social network names. Posts with social network names in their headlines get shared the most (for instance, ‘What Facebook Doesn’t Want You to Know’.)
- People want to learn. Use learning words like ‘Introduction’, ‘The Beginners’ Guide’ and ‘DIY’ in post titles.
- Keep your headlines short and concise. The goal of your headline is to simply catch the attention of your readers, not to convey the entire content of your post!
- List posts are still popular and effective. While some believe list posts are overused, many marketers find they are still very effective at encouraging click-throughs.
- Use a sense of urgency. For instance, ‘Ten Things You Should Do Right now’ or ‘Fix These Common Mistakes Or Risk Losing it All’.
- Use the negative form of a word instead of the positive form. For instance, a post named ‘5 Worst Pieces of Blogging Advice’ will likely outperform ‘5 Best Blogging Tips’.
- Don’t be tricky. While there is some creative license allowed in headline writing, your headline should be an accurate portrayal of the content of your post.
- Use a tool to help you come up with new headline ideas. One of my favorites is the Portent Content Idea Generator.
- Use action words. Just as with social media headlines, action words will be more likely to jump out at your readers. When possible, use action-oriented, present tense words rather than the passive, past tense.
- Be specific. You may think that using a more general headline will appeal to the widest audience as possible, however this is usually not the case. Your headline should give a clear indication of the specific topic of your content.
- Be controversial. Occasionally, you may want to use a bit of controversy in your headline to turn a few heads. For instance, Apple enthusiasts (some of the most die-hard fans on the planet) won’t be able to help themselves with a title like ‘Why Apple Is Failing at Their Social Media Strategy’ (which they aren’t, by the way!).
- Use a benefit. You already know the old copywriting rule, ‘benefits not features’. Well, this hold especially true for headlines. Your headline should convey how your product or information will HELP people, not how great your product is.
- Use question words. Using question words like How, What, When, and Why are still very effective at eliciting clicks. For instance, rather than using ‘Top Skills Leaders Have’, try ‘How Leaders Succeed Using 5 Common Skills’.
- Be unique. Don’t use the same headline as someone else just because it worked for them! Add some of your own ideas and personality and make it original.
- Spin a popular headline. When writing a headline, do a quick Google search for posts on the same topic. Find one that’s been particularly popular, and figure out what you can learn from it.
- Evoke emotion. Using your headline to evoke feelings of happiness, anger, or even fear may improve your click-through rates; just be careful about stepping over the line into being manipulative!
- Use insider information. Posts that promise to reveal insider information are always popular, as long as you can actually deliver.
- Capitalize the first letter of each word. Most copywriters agree that this is the most effective format for your headlines. Avoid using CAPS for all letters or risk being seen as spammy!
- Don’t get fancy. While a fancy headline with lots of big words may look good to you, it’s unlikely to generate the level of interest you’re after. Avoid being fancy, and focus instead on giving a simple, clear idea of what your post is about and how it will help your readers.
Be sure to A/B test different headlines to see which perform the best!