Do your headlines capture the attention of the right people? Need some good ideas to enhance your headlines? A great headline gets your audience to stop, read and share your content.
In this article you’ll discover four ways to craft stronger headlines to engage your readers.
Why Headlines Are Critical
Every marketer is looking for ways to get his or her content noticed on social media. This is particularly important for small businesses that lack the budget to support every piece of content with advertising and other paid marketing tactics.
To capture your audience’s time and attention, you need a strong headline. As David Ogilvy famously said, “On average, only 1 out of 5 readers gets beyond your headline.”
According to a Chartbeat study of a random sample of 2 billion page views generated by 580,000 articles, 55% of visitors spent less than 15 seconds on a page.
Another notable finding is that social sharing gets your content distributed, but not necessarily read. People who share content are only a small fraction of the people who visit that content, according to Chartbeat’s analysis of 10,000 socially shared articles.
This data supports the social media participation 90-9-1 principle: 90% will lurk, 9% will do something small (such as share) and 1% will create content or participate.
Because you have such a brief opportunity to gain your audience’s attention, it’s important to have a strong headline that compels visitors to read and share your content.
Here are four easy ways you can improve your headlines.
#1: Demonstrate Value With Numbers
A 2013 Conductor study published on Moz researched what types of headlines resonate best with readers. The results aren’t a surprise: The top two performers were headlines that include a number (30 Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful) and address readers (Ways You Can Make Drinking Tea More Delightful).
#2: Find Resources for Inspiration
Writing great headlines can be challenging, but you can get some inspiration by looking at the types of headlines that have worked for others time and again.
Check out Jon Morrow’s free ebook, 52 Headline Hacks, a treasure trove of headline ideas and suggestions, for a great resource. The author provides 52 headline templates that you can adapt and includes a short explanation of why these headlines have worked successfully for others.
One of Morrow’s most popular articles has an engaging three-element headline:How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World.
For additional headline ideas, take a look at what’s working for your peers. Social sharing is one way to determine what’s working on other sites when you can’t see the actual results.
#3: Use Your Customers’ Questions
Marcus Sheridan recommends that you give readers the information they’re actively seeking. In other words, “They ask, you answer.”
For example, River Pools posted an article to answer a common question from customers interested in fiberglass pools. The key information is delivered right in the headline: How Much Does a Fiberglass Pool Cost?
This headline above resonated with customers because it told them what they wanted to know. According to Sheridan, this article generated about $2 million in sales.
Keep in mind that you also want to avoid giving away too much information in the headline. For example, when the article, 27.7% of Senior Management Champion Social Media – Does Yours?, was first posted, it had a low click-through rate. Why? The headline gave away too much information, so readers weren’t compelled to click-through and read the article.
#4: Brainstorm Potential Headlines for Options
It’s easy to treat the headlines for your articles as an afterthought and use the first idea that comes to mind, but chances are your first headline won’t be your strongest. To find the best possible headline for your content, take some time to brainstorm potential titles.
Upworthy, for example, focuses on getting great headlines by asking their writers to craft at least 25 headlines for every article.
While you may not have the time or inclination to write 25 headlines for every article your write or every piece of content you create, try to brainstorm enough potential headlines to give yourself some different options. When you’re finished, review your list and choose the best headline for your article or content.
Five More Quick Tips to Improve Headlines
Here are five more quick tips for writing headlines that attract more social media attention.
1. Use your audience’s language. Based on your marketing and social personas, determine which words and phrases resonate with your social followers. Then incorporate them in your content.
2. Learn your audience’s pain points. As Marcus Sheridan advises, answer the questions that keep your audience up at night.
3. Be clear. Avoid using an attention-grabbing headline if it will muddy your audience’s understanding of the topic. Disappointing potential readers will make them less likely to read or share your content.
4. Test different headlines to determine what works best for your content. Where appropriate, modify and tailor your headlines for different social channels. At minimum, you can test headlines by posting the same content at different times on social platforms.
5. Track headline results. Measure what resonates best for your marketing goals. Focus on what types of headlines drive site visits, email registrations and sales.
When it comes to improving your headlines, pay attention to what works for others, but also make sure that your titles stand out in the social feed for your target audience.
What do you think? Have you tried any of these tactics? Do you have an example of a favorite headline to share? What’s your favorite headline tip for attracting social attention? Please leave your comments and questions below.