“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy” – David Ogilvy
This can be frustrating, but it’s a good thing to know before publishing your content and promoting it on social media, email marketing campaigns, or on your website. No matter how much time and effort you’re putting into content, a weak headline can ruin its success. Before you can inform clients and compel action, you first have to get their attention, which starts with the headline.
Headlines can take many forms, like the subject of an email, the title of a blog, or a caption on a social post. Regardless of the context, headlines are meant to capture attention and should be well thought out. It needs to be so good that it can’t be ignored. Follow these 6 steps to write a headline that stands out!
People are naturally curious. Make it obvious that you have some knowledge that is valuable to potential clients – valuable enough to click on a link and keep reading. But you shouldn’t give them all of the information immediately. Set the value up and leave them craving more.
You should make your headline specific enough to connect to the reader and make them curious, but not specific enough to give them the answer. In the example below, a headline from WealthKeel makes the reader curious to learn what to avoid while estate planning. The headline doesn’t list the mistakes, but rather intrigues the potential client to read more.
There’s value in things that are “rare,” whether it’s an experience, information, or product. Think about ads that you see when you’re walking through a shopping center or mall. Often, ads create urgency through phrases like “exclusive offer” and “limited availability.” Acquiring something rare and in demand makes people feel powerful.
Stir up their desire to take action by making the reward seem rare. For example, show how signing up for your newsletter will give “exclusive tips” to smart spending. If you offer free introductory calls, tell them to “sign up today” for the offer. The more exclusive you make your content or offering seem, the more they’ll want to get in on it.
In the example below, Twenty Over Ten creates urgency by counting down the days until their webinar. By emphasizing the limited time, people will want to sign up quickly.
We all are guilty of being “scanners” and mindlessly scrolling until something catches our eye. Numbers are a great way to stop people in their tracks and to stand out against all of the clutter online.
Our lives are often dominated by letters and words, so when our eyes spot a number, it sticks out. Numbers do the job of initially grabbing attention but also signify a definite beginning, ending, and order to your content. If the reader knows exactly how much information they’ll take away from your content and how much time they’ll spend reading it, they feel more comfortable taking the next step.
If you surprise your reader, they’ll instantly be intrigued. Alert the reader that they need to pay attention to your content. This can be done by leading with an unexpected statistic, fact, or quote. If you momentarily stun them, you get the opportunity to move them into the next sentence.
The Twenty Over Ten blog used a surprising statistic to pull the reader into the content. By shocking the reader straight off the bat, they’ll want to learn more.
Asking a question in your headline will make potential clients think about their behavior. Ask the reader question about themselves. Questions like “Are You On Track For Retirement?” or” Are Your Struggling to Save Enough For Your Emergency Fund?” force the reader to investigate their own reality and connect to your content. If you make the reader reflect, they will feel like your content is applicable to their life.
You can also think about Google searches. Most of them are questions about solving a problem or finding information in the easiest and fastest way. What question are you helping your audience answer?
Whatever content you choose to engage with, it’s probably giving you something of value – information, entertainment, guidance. If you promise value from the get-go, the reader knows they won’t be wasting their time. This can be done through phrases like “how to” or “steps” they take to reach a goal.
Try starting with what, why, how or when. These are trigger words that convince the reader they’ll learn something by reading your content. Your audience should know exactly what they’re getting from taking them next step.
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A part of Twenty Over Ten’s digital marketing team, Lauren is a Content Creator. A true Carolina girl through and through, she loves everything about Fall (yes, especially #PSL ☕) and can’t resist a fluffy yellow lab.