Why Care About the Headline?
In today’s busy world, headlines play an integral role to entice people into reading the article, web-page, or e-mail. Statistics show that just over 16% of readers will actually read the entire article; the rest of them will stop at the headlines. What happened? Those readers decided based on reading the headline that reading the rest of the article wouldn’t be worth their time.
To keep your headlines in the winning 16% of the pool, you better start writing them like you mean it. In the next section, we’ll learn how pros write headlines that make an impact.
Tips on Writing Attention Getting Headlines
When you write headlines, do what the pros do – they borrow heavily from other successful headline writers. By this I don’t mean plagiarize their actual headlines. But I do mean use borrow their techniques, heavily! Here are a few of my favorite headline techniques that you should try:
• Get a Gimmick. Phrases like “Top Secrets,” “Like a Pro,” “Never Before Shared,” phrases like that will get someone’s attention! You could also use a cliff-hanger style headline where the reader will feel compelled to read to find out what you’re up to. Here are some more hot phrases that stuff people cold in their tracks:
o The Truth of…
o How to…
• Use a Number. I don’t know why we like numbers, but we do. Five Secrets, 101 Ways, 25 Top Destinations… People like odd numbers and they like numbers that end in 1 (not the actual #1 unless you’re going to share the #1 top secret type of information), 5, 7, 9. So every odd number except for 3. When you use 1 as in 11 or 21, it’s like you’re giving the reader an extra bonus. Stopping at 3 as in 13 (unlucky) or 23 seems like you ran out of steam before you could make it to a number ending in 5. Twelve is popular because of the tie in to the number of months we have in a year. Hey it works, so make sure you work it, too.
• Get your Keyword(s) in your Headline. You’d be surprised how many times people violate this guideline. You’re trying to target people who have an interest in whatever you have to say. Use the keywords. In the headline. This guideline ties in with the guideline that follows.
• Make them Stand Alone. Because the headline may be all the reader will see before they click (if they do at all) on it to read the copy, you must make sure that the headline will stand alone. Your headline must make sense without the backup copy. For this reason alone, don’t get too cute with puns that only make sense after you read the copy. Also, check for any humorous interpretations or double entendres in your headline.
• Don’t let it get TOO Long. Remember, a headline is just that, a headline. Not the first paragraph or even a summary. Resist the urge to let your headline run on for more than 10-15 words. Any more than that and you risk losing the reader’s attention.
Now that you’ve learned how the pros do it, you can write excellent headlines, too! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and write powerful headlines!