Strong headline writing is a talent!

It has probably come to your attention that headlines really do matter. We rely on them in most phases of our business these days, whether they are in the form of an ad, a blog post, a video, even an infographic. 

Your headline is arguably the most important part of your content, as it very often determines whether anyone proceeds any further.  These aren’t just for online articles, powerful headlines are used as subject lines for emails, calls to actions in ads, videos, and blogs.

“5X as many people read the headline as the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar” – David Ogilvy

As attention spans seems to shrink, you need to get your message across in seconds to keep them reading the rest. With this in mind, spending some extra attention on creating compelling headlines to reach your target audience makes sense.

7 Headline Writing Tips For Better Results!

This is certainly true when it comes to email, and advertising. Understanding how to craft a winning headline is a task that you simply must master for your business.

There are many headline formulas helping you can write more effective headlines today.  For example, using lists and numbers simply rock. People understand just what they’re getting, and it’s usually in a form they can easily digest: “3 Tips to Help You Drop 5 Pounds This Week!”  Each of the list below is an example of the way, lists make digesting the information easier for your potential reader.

1. Hit their pain points

Hitting on the pain points your readers will help gain their trust, create a sense of urgency, and they will be more open to any solutions you have to offer.

Here is a great example from Konrad Sanders: “How Safe is Your Ecommerce Site from Ransomware Attacks?”   His headline hits straight at a reality that online stores have to deal with – malicious hackers that can shut you down.  The headline poses the question rather than threaten and in that question implies a solution can be found.

And that you have that solution!

2. Be controversial; break the rules!

Don’t be afraid to share your opinions in a bold, audacious way. No one wants to read another bland neutral post anyhow!

Controversial doesn’t mean jumping on the latest trending (and often horrible) news story.  In this case, I mean making a strong statement that makes people stop, think, and take a closer look at how your advice stacks up against what they are doing or thinking.

Ian Brodie gives a great example of this in “The Right and Wrong Way to Use Controversy in Subject Lines.” Going against the grain is not weak clickbait.  It is a challenge to the ‘old way is the best way’ thought process and a great way to get real discussions going.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

These questions are frequently the same ones they are asking, and you can be the one to deliver a solution. Asking questions is a great way to grab someone’s attention and create a curiosity gap. That curiosity temps us to click through to find the answer.

Example:  If I’m So Smart Why Aren’t I Successful Yet?  It is simple, direct, and speaks to so many people who are feeling stuck.

Just don’t ask questions that are misleading.  You might get the click through, but it can leave a bad taste in the mind of your reader.  When you keep it real, questions can result in a catchy headline that creates a sense of urgency and reward.

4. Keep your headline under 60 characters

Keep them 60  characters and 6 words where possible. This is so that not only will your entire headline show in Google search results, but also in the email subject line without being shortened.

KISSmetrics Headline expert Bnonn cites usability research revealing we don’t only scan body copy, we also scan headlines. As such, we tend to absorb only the first three words and the last three words of a headline. If you want to maximize the chance that your entire headline gets read, keep your headline to six words. Buffer

Short and punchy almost always out performs long, clever headlines.

5. Test your copy

As with most anything you write for the masses, for the best response you’ll need to test your headlines for effect. Sometimes one word can make a big difference in an email open rate, which can in turn directly affect your income.  Of all of the headline writing rules, A/B testing is key.

Experiment with your headlines and see what the result is.  Many times what we think is most important is not what drives our visitors.  Test to find out for sure.

6. Deliver value

Above all indicate in your headlines the amount of value they can receive. Don’t over-promise, but don’t be shy about extolling what you’ve got to offer!  Here is a great example from Digital Marketer that is longer but the value is straight out in your face, “Learn to Write Headlines That Get More Clicks [Plus FREE Swipe File Download].”  The promise is more effective headline and the reward is a free download that will make the process easier.  When you think about the headlines you write, are you getting your message across in this straight-forward way?

The final key element to keep in mind is that the over-arching purpose of any headline is to get the reader to the next step, whether that means opening an email, clicking a link or reading your content.  Keep that next step in mind while you are writing and the end result will be powerful headlines that move your readers to action.

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