Headlines are the most important part of any article, blog post or email. Why? Because without a good headline, no one will bother to read the rest of the copy. The worst headlines are not the offensive, controversial or opinionated ones (these can actually be some of the best, vis-à-vis getting people to read on). The worst headlines are bland – they're the ones people pass over them without a second thought.
What does a bad headline look like?
Bad headlines are those that have no pull; nothing about them entices people to read the article. There are numerous ways this can occur, and these are some of the most common:
No obvious benefit
People read things that they think will add value to their life, whether in the form of useful information, practical guidance, or simple, fun entertainment. If your headline doesn't get this message across, it's toast.
Not clear what the article is about
If it's unclear what an article is about, the reader has no incentive to delve in to find out more: confused headlines mean confused readers.
Long-winded, wordy headlines quickly lose traction and appeal. If a person decides they can't even be bothered to read the entire headline, what chance does the rest of the article have?
It's about you, not your readers
People are not interested in you – they're interested in themselves. Instead of focusing on yourself, try to spin the headline so it focuses on what you learned from your experiences and how this can benefit your readers.
What does a good headline look like?
A good headline is attention grabbing and provokes curiosity, while demonstrating that the article will be beneficial somehow. Here are a few tried and tested methods for crafting a compelling headline:
People love lists; they're quick and easy to read, which is vital in today's fast-paced world – and numbers are the clearest way of indicating that your article is in list format.
Use interesting adjectives
Interesting adjectives make a headline punchier and stand out more – would you rather read about 10 tips to get fit, or 10 effortless tips to get fit? Killer is a good example - you can see we've used it in our headline, and it's used here, combined with numbers (see above) on the Write About Now blog, in 'seven tips for a killer Facebook landing page.'
Use trigger words
Who, what, where, when and why are good words for pulling people in. How and why are the strongest because they immediately show that there's something on offer for the reader.
Make a promise
Offer something your readers will find valuable and they won't be able to resist the allure – How-To articles are the perfect example of this.
Make it about them
“You” is one of the most powerful words in copywriting. Use it wisely and readers will come flocking. We used it for the title of this post about one of our favourite infographics: 'Napping at work is good for you'.
Summarise the article
As a general rule you should use the fewest amount of words possible to convey your point. Be as concise as possible while still making sense and getting the point across.
The most important rule to remember when crafting a headline is that it should be about the reader. Always think about how an article can benefit your reader and craft your headline around this, while being as concise as possible.
For more advice on writing headlines and everything else to do with email marketing, head over to the blog at Write About Now.
image from freedigitalphotos.net