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They’re Like, My Headlines Are Better Than Yours By on June 5, 2013

photoIt’s no longer a secret that content marketing works. There’s one small prerequisite, however, and that is that the content must first be read. It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending hours pouring creative energy into meticulously written articles, only to neglect the headline. This approach could be costing you serious revenue in lost visitors.

Because the headline is the first point of contact with the reader and, if it’s rushed, it will be the last. Headlines usually appear in places with other competing headlines such as RSS readers, Google Alerts, the SERPs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social site feeds and all are vying for the reader’s attention. How many of your headlines have been dismissed in favour of your competitors?

Five Strong Headline Strategies That Work

If you’re reconsidering your approach to headline writing, here’s the good news. After many years of advertising and marketing, proven, tried and thoroughly tested headline strategies can be emulated. The list is relatively extensive, so here are five examples of highly effective headlines.

1. Say what it is, simply and directly

People have grown weary of sales copy and hyped-up, empty promises. Consequently, being simple and direct in stating what’s on offer can be remarkably effective.

E.G: Essential Small Business Content Marketing Trends of 2013

2. Offer a significant benefit

Content marketing works so well largely because it provides an opportunity to offer massive value. If you put together a particularly valuable piece, make that value the subject of your headline. Spell your big benefit out clearly to your reader and remove any ambiguity.

E.G One Simple Trick to Increase Your Marketing ROI by 64%

3. Use a provocative statement or question

One surefire way to grab attention is to ask a controversial or provocative question. Be gutsy, consider tugging people’s emotional heart strings or purse strings, but be careful not to take it too far and be offensive.

E.G What Are Your Excuses for Not Hitting Your Sales Targets This Year?

4. The ‘how to’ headline

The ‘how to’ headline is, and perhaps always will be, one of the strongests forms going and entire websites (such as eHow.com) have been built around it. You can bolster the effectiveness by offering two ‘how to’s at the same time. The ‘how to’ won’t work the magic all by itself so make sure to intertwine other headline strategies with it.

E.G How to Save Time and Increase Your Cash Flow

5. The ‘top-list’ headline

Top list headlines sometimes feel like a cop-out but they’re proven time and time again to be effective. Again, entire highly successful websites have been built around this type of headline. They’re enticing, easy to digest and produce results so don’t be afraid to use them every now and again.

E.G Top 10 Tips to Capture Customers on Twitter

Five Ways to Become a Better Headline Writer

The five types of headlines above are proven strategies to put you in good stead for grabbing attention and websites such as Copyblogger are great sources to find even more.

While using types of proven headlines is great, it’s also important to consider your own creativity to produce something catchy whilst not trying to be too clever. You could start by considering some of the following.

1. Include quotes where relevant and possible

If applicable to your content, use a couple of choice words from a quote in the headline, surrounding those words with the appropriate inverted commas. If the person quoted is a prominent name, it may be worth including this too.

2. Invoke curiosity

Always be on the lookout for opportunities to invoke people’s curiosity. If you can capture attention this way and follow up with a great article, you’re more likely to be gain a new follower.

3. Start building a swipe file

A swipe file is an essential tool in the arsenal of any good writer. Start putting together a series of successful headlines, sales letters and anything else relevant to the type of writing you do. Refer to it for inspiration in times of need.

4. Write your headline first

Whenever possible, write your headline first. This gives you the opportunity to craft an enticing promise to your potential reader and then make sure you deliver on that promise in your article

5. Do your keyword research

While doing keyword research is important for your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts, it’s also important for readers. If you’re writing an article on any given subject, it’s more likely to get opened if you’ve chosen a keyword which more people are actively searching for.

Learn, Test & Develop Your Headlines

The fact that entire books have been devoted to the subject of headline writing is testament to how deep this skill really is. Make your headline crafting abilities a constantly evolving process and, wherever possible, test your click through rates to see what’s working for you. Aim to create headlines as irresistible as the content you’ve just so lovingly crafted.

One Comment

  1. Glenn says:

    And then they’re like, no mine is, and she’s like, no mine, and he’s like, no mine, and they’re like… oh my god…

    Great article!

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