Writing headlines is tough business. There are instances when it seems as if more time is spent on the headline than the content itself!
Even though headlines may not look like much, they are arguably the most important part of your content. Without an enticing, eye-grabbing, emotion-jerking headline, your content may get skipped over.
But how do you create compelling headlines while following the best practices of being clear, concise and honest?
Luckily, there are ways that you can make your headlines powerful without sounding corny or off-the-track from what your content is about.
Before we get started discussing these tips, let’s first talk about why the headline is such an important part of your content.
Why Headlines Matter
The purpose of a headline is to get the next sentence read. Eighty percent of readers will read through your headline, but only 20 percent will read through your content. This means that about five times more people read your headline compared to the rest of the copy. If you can at least get people to do this, you’ve spent 80 cents of your dollar.
Creating engaging headlines isn’t easy. If you find that you’re spending a lot of time crafting them, you’re refreshingly on the right track. The best copywriters say that they spend half the time it takes to write a piece of content on creating a title. Hey, practice makes perfect, right?
To make a positive first impression, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Follow the SHINE Principle
Follow the SHINE principle, which breaks down to:
- Immediately interesting
When playing around with different headlines, ask yourself how well it follows this principle.
Analyze Your Headlines with a Free Tool
There are some great free tools online that will analyze your headlines. CoSchedule has a Free Analyzer that is easy to use. All you have to do is plug in your headline and the tool will grade your work. It factors in things such as headline length and the types of words used (emotional, common, uncommon and power).
Another tool to check out is from the Advanced Marketing Institute. This tool evaluates the emotional marketing value (EMV) score of your headline.
Whichever tool you choose to use, you can learn a lot about how compelling and emotionally charged your title is.
Use Power Words and Adjectives
Since you only have a few words to work with in your headline, it’s important that each one is accounted for. Your headline should be a mix of power words and adjectives (describing words) along with a keyword.
In short, power words are those that make your readers feel something. You don’t need to overdo it on the power words, but some of the best writers and speakers sprinkle them into their writings and speeches to evoke emotion in people.
You can find a good list of power words here.
When you’re tired at night and done writing, the last thing your brain wants to do is come up with specific words and examples. That’s why the word “things” sounds great. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound great to your readers.
“Things” is very vague and should be avoided in headlines. Instead, use unique descriptors such as:
Readers want to know exactly what they’re getting in a piece of content, so be specific.
Write for Your Readers
You have a unique audience that you’re writing to, so make it known. If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one.
Some things to think about include the type of language that appeals to your audience and how you want people to feel when they read your headline.
The more you know about your audience, the more specific you can be in your messaging. Using words like “you” and “your” automatically makes the content sound warmer and more personal, too.
It’s okay for your headlines to be bold, direct and exciting. Just be sure that you deliver on what you promise. This way, people will learn to trust you.
To make the most of your headlines, you need to put in adequate time and resources. Compelling, engaging headlines grasp your audience’s attention and encourages them to keep reading.
Even if a person finds that the rest of your content doesn’t fit their needs, you’ve at least gotten them to read your title, acknowledge your brand and have a positive association with it. That’s worth something, isn’t it?