Your Headline Can Make or Break Your Marketing
So you’re writing a blog post, article, email or some other marketing piece. If you want people to read it you better spend some time on your headline.
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.
First, people are bombarded with information every day. We are all on information overload. Because of this we don’t actually read. We scan and skim to determine if an article has information we’ll find useful and if it’s worth spending our time to read it.
Second, our attention span is very short. According to a recent study by Microsoft, our attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. You can read more about that here, later…right now keep your attention on this article!
Okay, I got distracted…what was I saying?
A strong, interesting, compelling headline will determine if people continue and actually read your article, blog post, or email.
Since your headline is so important to the success of your piece here are…
10 Strategies for Crafting Effective Headlines
- Ask Questions. If someone reads a question, they usually need to know the answer. A question also says there is something to learn, which taps into the natural human tendency towards curiosity and the essential need in all of us to know more.
- Use Numbers. People love numbered lists. They are compelling and efficient. Keep in mind we typically only remember three to five points. For example, 5 Tips for Saving More Money Now. That said, there’s no hard and fast rule for the best number to use and sometimes a really obscure number like 19 or 37 can catch people’s attention.
- How To. People are always looking for ways to accomplish things, or do them better. A how to headline tells them that’s what they’ll get by reading your article.
- The 5 W’s. Remember who, what, when, where and why. By using them in your headlines you articulate to readers the kind of information you intend to provide.
- Address Readers in the 2nd Person. While writing prose in 2nd person is infamously awkward, it’s the perfect form for headline writing, grabbing the attention of readers by calling them out.
- Make an Audacious Promise. Promise your readers something valuable, but make sure you deliver.
- Use Negative Wording. No, without, stop. These tap into our insecurities, urging us to read more. You can also take a negative approach on a headline. For example, instead of 5 Tips for Saving More Money Now that I mentioned earlier, you could change that to 5 Common Mistakes That Are Costing You Money Now.
- Urgency. Get your readers’ attention by giving them a reason to act immediately. For example, by adding Now to the headline examples above I’ve said this important and time-sensitive.
- Be Descriptive. Use interesting adjectives such as effortless, painstaking, quick, fun, free, incredible, essential, and absolute.
- Length. Keep your headlines short. The perfect length for a headline is 6 words. Readers tend to scan headlines too and studies show we read the first three words of a headline and the last three words. So if your headline isn’t exactly 6 words, which often it won’t be, make sure the first three words and the last three words stand out as much as possible. Also keep in mind your headline shouldn’t be more than 60 characters or it will get cut off in search results.
It takes time and often many drafts to get your headline right. I hope these tips will make it a little easier.
How much time do you spend crafting your headlines? Let us know.