Your headline by far the most important part of your online posts and essential for the best engagement. Headlines can gain you new readers on social by introducing them in an intriguing way that entices them to react to a call to action – the holy grail of engagement. With that in mind, here are some quick tips for writing your best headlines.
1. Quickly summarize the piece. Studies show that five times as many online readers only read the headline and generally skip the body (which will include your call -to-action). Therefore, you want to put the most basic summary of your piece right on top where everyone can read it, rather than demand more of them by hiding its meaning in the body.
2. Word placement. Studies also show that it’s the first and last three words of a headline that stick with a reader the most. A six-word headline is ideal, but not always possible. So carefully choose the words for your headline that will deliver the most impact and place them at the front or back of the headline.
3. Word formula. Possibly the biggest secret when it comes to headlines is the order and format in which your words are arranged. Koozai Marketing developed a proven formula for a perfect and highly responsive headline: Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise.
Here’s a good example from my blog: Six Startup Characteristics that Can Transform YOUR Business. Every word should be placed in careful order and create an attention-grabbing statement to spark the reader’s curiosity.
4. Avoid questions. Question headlines seem like a smart open-ended way to grab your prospective reader’s attention, but don’t be fooled! Just about any headline phrased as a question can be answered with a simple “no.” That’s a fast way to lose their interest and potentially valuable customers!
5. Use comparisons. Offer readers the opportunity to learn how to do something the way someone they can aspire to would. A good example is Gatorade’s “Be Like Mike” campaign. But also don’t be afraid to go generic. Ex. “Market like a pro.” For an extra bonus, throw in the word “without.” Ex. “Market Like a Pro Without Emptying Your Pocket.”
6. Word choice. Every word of your headline should carry importance to generate the maximum impact in your readers. Avoid nondescript nouns and uninteresting adjectives. For example, “Some Ways”, “Important Tips”, “Smart Strategies,” .etc.
7. SEO. Don’t forget about SEO when you’re crafting your headlines. Use multiple words potential readers will search for so your post is one of the first results they see!
8. Tease your readers. Internet users love to feel “in the know” on something. Construct a headline to this advantage. Headlines like “The Secret of _____” or “Little Known Ways to _____” are good teasers to make them genuinely interested. You can also appeal to characteristics like pride and reassurance with “How To’s.” Ex. “How To Make a _____ To Be Proud of.”
9. Use Numbers. Readers love to see efficiency and speed in their online browsing. Making a listicle (LIKE THIS ARTICLE) lets them know exactly what they’re getting into and that all the information is organized. Also the higher your number is, the faster it’ll spread!
10. Use negatives. Interestingly, negative words are a great way to grab readers. They feed on our insecurities and immediately generate interest. Statistics show posts with words like “No” or “Without” lead to many more shares.
Headlines can be fun and clever ways to gain an expansive audience. Be sure to mix it up with these tips across all of your marketing activities online and offline often and your headlines will generate your desired results in no time.
Co-written by Matthew Gilbert