Did you know that marketing firms actually study headlines, create experiments to gauge popularity, or make up A/B split tests for their blogs and mailings, and then measure what piques the most interest? Though it’s not an exact science, there are a few types of headlines that have proven themselves over time to be reliable, relatable, and most importantly, attractive to readers. Here are five headline templates (but by no means the only ones) that are great for your articles, blog posts and email subject lines, to drive more eyeballs to your writing.
1. The “How-to”
This headline is great for showing your expertise on a given topic, and giving readers a tangible benefit or two from reading your article or post, and clearly communicate that benefit, making them click. For example, would you be more likely to click on “You Can Get More Done in Less Time Using Evernote” or “How to Get More Done in Less Time with Evernote“? Yeah.
2. The Do [Beneficial Action] Using [Thing]
Some headlines aren’t even read all the way through before a reader decides to click or move on. These headlines help catch ultra-short attention spans by making the benefit clear in the first few words. This tactic elevates regular newsy headlines to something more interesting.
For example, “New Track Changes Feature Added to WordPress,” becomes “Keep Track of Your Edits Easily Using New WordPress Feature” and “Try This Classic Eight-Part Short Story Structure” becomes “Keep Your Readers Spellbound by Using Classic Eight-Part Story Structure.”
3. The Listicle
This headline format works because it sets up a clear expectation. You clicked on this article expecting to see five types of headlines, because for whatever reason, that’s what you’re interested in at this moment. Your time is valuable when you’re looking for ways to improve your own blog, and your readers feel the same way, so a listicle is an easy method for setting up and delivering on readers’ expectations—a great way to keep them coming back.
Listicle examples include “9 Reasons to Monetize Your Blog with Targeted Ads” and “Six Ways to Attract More Followers on Twitter.”
4. “Are You [blank]?”
Not above playing into your readers’ collective fear of the unknown? Good. This headline is very effective when used sparingly. (Too many questioning headlines sounds cloying after a little while.)
Examples include, “Are You Sure You’re Writing Enough?” and “Is Your Blog Missing Out on Readership?”
5. Take [Action]
This headline universally begins with some sort of action verb. It’s simple, direct, and to-the-point, and earns some of the most clicks because of this simplicity. However, you should use the Take [Action] headline sparingly, else you will start the Web-writing equivalent of crying wolf.
Examples include “Write Your Way into Paid Blogging” and “Stay Away from These Predatory Publishers.”
Don’t Be Too Wordy, But Brevity Is Not King
You’ve heard the adage, “content is king.” It sounds a bit grandiose, but it’s true. A great headline will pull your readers in, but content will convert visitors into regular readers, so your job is to communicate why your content is so great. Brevity in headlines is great, but it shouldn’t be your first priority. Clearly communicating a benefit or action step to the reader is job number one. The most difficult part of devising an effective headline is figuring out what about your story is beneficial to franchisees and refocusing the headline accordingly.
What are your tips for writing great headlines? What has been your most successful headline to date? Share it in the comments.