It's amazing how so few words can determine the success of your content. Most headlines for blogs, web pages, tip sheets, or emails are usually 7 to 8 words long; not a lot of real estate to hook a prospect's attention and convince them reading it will be time well spent.
It's definitely an art, and there are folks who have built an entire career in media because they are able to distill a story down to those key 7 or 8 words that grab a readers attention and won't let go. They make it look easy, and perhaps, for them, it is. But for the rest of us, it can be hard work.
So what makes a headline successful?
In general, a successful headline is one that is not only attention grabbing - think tabloid - but also delivers on a promise or need for the prospect. Combining the two is not always easy, but there are some headline types, or templates, that can guide you. Some starting ideas include:
The Know it All – Offers practical tips and advice
The Teacher – The educational approach - something the reader doesn't know
The Instigator – Think tabloids! A bold statement that may or may not be true, but it gets people reading
The Threat – What do your personas worry about? Speak to that
The Promise – Delivering ways that make a prospect's life easier
The How-to – They will learn how to solve a problem
The List – Self-explanatory and people love them
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you are struggling to write attention-grabbing headlines for content, these are some time tested styles that can help. (For a fun guide to these and other styles, check out Jon Morrow's 52 Headline Hacks, an irreverent guide to the art of headline writing.)
With a good handle on your target persona's needs, you can follow these style templates to write headlines that speak directly to them, making it more likely they will read your content. Need a little proof? Let's take a look at the top 10 most-viewed blogs we've written here at Weidert Group:
Looking through our top 10, there are lists, how-tos, and even a few "Know It Alls" featured in the titles of our most read blogs. The blogs on this list continue to generate new views each month as they are found in search or shared on social media.
It's more than just blogs. We see the same pattern when looking at our top performing weekly e-mail newsletters for our Whole Brain Marketing Week In Review. The subject lines that produced the most clicks tend to follow the styles mentioned above:
Of course, you still need to have good content to convince your prospect to convert as a lead, but great content needs a good headline to lure them in.
Still struggling? The Content Marketing Institute recently published a blog by Roger C. Parker that included his Title Evaluation Scorecard, a 10-point guide to creating better headlines, titles, and subjects lines for your content. It's a good guide, worth downloading and keeping readily available for reference.
Our best advice: Test it. Find a couple of styles you think would work well with your target personas and write your headlines that way. Monitor what happens. If you start to see views of your content increase – blogs, tip sheets, e-mails – then you know you have a good combination.
The better your content performs, the more prospects you will attract to your website where you can convert them to leads and create opportunities to win new customers.