Did you know that 8 out of 10 people take the time to read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 continue with the rest of the piece?
In other words, your headline can be the difference between success and failure. It’s as simple as that.
Your headline is your opportunity to make a good first impression. It’s your chance to engage the reader, ensuring that he or she sticks around to see what you have to say. Success in this area is essential to reaching your content marketing goals.
What approach will you take? How can you create attention grabbing headlines that keep readers interested in your content? It’s not always simple, but practice makes perfect. Over time, you will see what’s working, what isn’t, and how to make changes for the better.
Here are seven ways to effectively create attention grabbing headlines:
1) Get to the Point
According to a Nielsen Norman Group study, users prefer clear, direct, straightforward headlines. Forget about being funny. Forget about using long headlines. The sooner you get to the point the better.
As a general rule of thumb, headlines between 81 and 100 characters generate the highest level of engagement. This is long enough to get your point across, but not so long that you put users off.
2) Create a Sense of Urgency
It’s not always possible, but a headline that creates a sense of urgency is one that will grab the reader’s attention. This type of headline does two things:
- Draws the reader in
- Provides a reason to read the rest of the post
A good example of a headline that creates a sense of urgency is: “Is Your Competition Killing You Because of this One Mistake?”
When somebody reads this, they begin to think, “Maybe my competition is beating me because of a simple mistake that can be easily resolved?” This gives them reason to read on, knowing that the advice could be just what they need.
As such, when possible, it’s good practice to write headlines that generate a sense of urgency.
3) Use Numbers
The more headlines you read the more you will realize that the use of numbers is common. And there is a reason for this: it works. It’s difficult to pinpoint why, but integrating numbers into your headlines has been proven to generate more engagement (such as social shares).
Even or odd? According to Content Marketing Institute, headlines that contain an odd number have a 20% higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers. So, while you may be tempted to use an even number, it’s typically best to avoid this.
The post you are reading right now is a prime example of one that uses an odd number in the headline. Others include:
4) The SHINE Technique
If you want your headlines to standout from the crowd, if you want your headlines to grab hold of your readers and never let go, it’s time to implement the SHINE technique. As discussed by Neil Patel, this is a simple five step process of generating more attractive headlines. Here is what the acronym stands for:
- S – Specificity
- H – Helpfulness
- I – Immediacy
- N – Newsworthiness
- E – Entertainment value
Stick to this technique of writing headlines and you’ll always be on the right track.
5) Make a Promise
When you promise something of great value, most people will stick around to see what it is. Will you teach readers a new skill? Will you show them something that will improve your target audience’s business?
Taking this approach can be risky, as you are walking out on a limb. But when you over deliver on your promise and you live up to your headline, you can be rest assured that your audience will respect you.
6) Bring In an Outside Party
Once you’ve settled on a headline, it’s time to take a step back and review your decision. It may also be time to bring another party into the equation. Maybe you do this after you create your headline (and before you write the actual post) or maybe you wait until the entire piece is complete. Either way, collaboration is a good thing. And here is why:
- The other party can refine the headline.
- The other party can make suggestions you have overlooked.
Don’t be too proud to ask else for help. Another set of eyes could be the difference between the perfect headline and one that is so-so.
7) Seek Additional Help
Along with reviewing your headline with another party, there is additional help to be had. For instance, have you ever used Portent’s Content Idea Generator? This tool is free, simple to use, and can help you generate attractive and attention grabbing headlines within a matter of seconds. All you have to do is enter your subject in the search box and hit “enter” on your keyboard. That’s when the magic happens.
Here is an example of the results associated with a search of the phrase “content marketing.”
- The Oddest Place You Will Find Content Marketing
- 8 Reasons the Amish Were Right About Content Marketing
- The Only Content Marketing Resources You Will Ever Need
Some headline suggestions are better than others. Even if you don’t find exactly what you are looking for, this tool is likely to put you on the right track.
Think about this as an outsider. When you come across a fresh blog post, what is the first thing you do? You read the headline, right? If it piques your interest, you continue reading. If it doesn’t, if the headline is boring, there’s a good chance you move on.
Learning how to write attention grabbing headlines will take time. If you follow these seven points of advice, it won’t be long before you are creating killer blog post titles that generate better results.
What other advice would you add to this list? What types of headlines have worked best for you in the past?