When creating a web page, article, or blog post, the most essential element is the headline. If you nail the headline, conversions will follow. But, a poorly written headline means your writing will be ignored. Luckily, it’s easy to craft an effective headline – here are 9 insights into writing great headlines that work.
1. Suspend Disbelief
The goal of a headline is to peak the reader’s interest so they have no choice but to continue reading or click through to buy.
Successful websites like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post use this technique frequently with outlandish headlines like “What Selena Gomez just wrote on Twitter will leave you SPEECHLESS” or “Harambe Memes are Taking Absurdity to New Heights”.
Be cautious not to oversell yourself in the headline. If your headline promises something great, but the reader isn’t entertained or engaged, they won’t return and you might lose their trust.
2. “The Information Gap Theory”
Made famous by George Loewenstein, a leader in the field of behavioral economics and neuroeconomics, the Information Gap Theory claims that each of us has a unique itch of curiosity within.
Curiosity happens when there is a gap between what we know and what we want to know. The IGT says that this gap has emotional consequences, acting like a mosquito bite, leaving us yearning to scratch the informational itch.
If you insert the right topic, or ask the right question, in your headline, the reader will have no choice but to read further in order to fill the gap.
The Information Gap Theory also works with popular or trending topics. IGT is why an article written about Kim Kardashian gets tons of clicks and views, mainly due to America’s obsession to “Keeping up” with the Kardashians.
3. Preview the Rollercoaster
Humans are constantly looking to make emotional connections. Understanding this can revolutionize your marketing.
If you can offer some emotion in your headline, readers will resonate with what you have to say and look to take on that experience.
Use mood or emotion in your headline to give your reader a taste of what to expect. Say the reader comes across a headline like “These Photos of Newborn Puppies Will Leave Your Heart Soaring”, there’s a high chance they will want to see those photos, especially if they are a fan of tiny pups.
4. Use a Comparison or Contrast
In academic writing, comparison and contrast are indispensable to get your point across. It can be the same when you are writing a headline.
Effective use of comparison and contrast takes two things that would otherwise be seen as similar, and breaks them down to their differences.
If your ultimate goal is to prove why one thing trumps another, try using a comparison in your headline. Maybe you are comparing computer repair services, you could say something like “Why [Computer Repair Company A] gets the job done tremendously faster than [Computer Repair Company B]”.
Most customers are trying to optimize their decision-making, so coming across a headline that is trying to help you make better choices can be useful and receive more clicks.
5. Use a Subheading
Sometimes your headline can’t say it all, and maybe that’s for the better. Usually a subheading is used for aesthetic purposes, but it can also be a descriptor to the heading.
If you want your users to stay on your website longer and click more, use subheadings.
On average, you have 7 seconds to grab the reader’s attention and using a subheading can clinch the deal. The reader really just needs to know if your writing is something they can use, and a subheading is a great way to provide your content’s value.
6. Tell Them What They Get
When you post an article, you are providing a service to your readers. Make sure your headline is clear about what readers will get and why it matters.
Choose a clear or even simple headline over a clever or subtle one. Be direct with what you are saying so the reader doesn’t have to guess.
Also if you claim to offer something of value users will become more receptive. Offering incentives to keep reading or to click on your service will motivate the reader to engage. By mastering the ability to communicate exactly what you want to say in your headline, you will hone in and reach your target audience more often.
7. Use an EMVH Analyzer Tool
Wording plays a big part in the success of a headline.
Certain words resonate higher than others and can make your headlines more successful. This school of thought is called emotional marketing.
There are online tools called Marketing Value Headline Analyzers that will rate your headlines with a percentage to see how strong your headline is. There are three spheres to keep in mind when writing your headline; intellectual, empathetic, and spiritual.
A link to an EMVH analyzer tool can be found here: http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm
8. Present a Testimonial
Peak the interest of others by quoting a satisfied customer talking about the impact your service made.
A great testimonial will promote the authenticity of your content or service. Find someone who has been satisfied with your service, then reach out and ask them to give their testimonial. In order to maximize the effectiveness of the testimonial, make it as relevant as possible to the topic at hand.
9. Use the Word “Free”
People love free stuff.
The more free stuff the better.
If you are selling something or providing a service, offering a free trial in the headline of your content will drive up the amount of clicks you receive. If the sole purpose of your headline is to raise awareness to what you are doing, use the word “free” in your headline if you are sure of your service.
“Click Here For a Free Quote” sounds a lot more inviting than “Click Here to Set Up a Price”. Try it out.
Writing an impactful, super-clickable headline requires careful thought, but with guidance, anyone can do it. If you write a bad headline, don’t expect a lot of clicks. The headline is the most important part of your message and should not be taken lightly.
If you are tired of trying to come up with your own headlines, or your own marketing in general, set up an appointment for free strategy session below.