The sad truth is that no matter how good your article is, if it has a poor headline, no one will read it. According to research carried out by copyblogger, 80% of readers don’t make it past the article headline.
As they point out “your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you can make on a prospective reader.”
We have reached out to 9 content experts who have kindly provided their most successful headlines and insights into why they worked so well.
The best headline I have ever created on Mad Lemmings has to be: Multiply Your Email Subscribers Like Rabbits (with this simple trick).
I have a bit of a whacky sense of humour, so at first I was not sure that this headline would work. But after getting 1.7K social shares, I think the proof is in the pudding, right? I also recall one fellow blogger commenting at the time, “When I saw the headline, I knew I had to read this”. I have never had that kind of response before, and I think it speaks to the originality of the headline.
So why do I think this particular headline worked so well? I think the reasons are many:
Although I believe there is no true “winning formula” for headlines, I certainly like using tools like Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer when I am working on my headlines.
However, when you are talking about crafting a headline with a blank page in front of you, I try to make mine as original, enticing and more importantly, actionable-sounding as possible. After all, people will only click through for a good reason, and having a positive outcome in mind before they even start is always a great place to begin your journey together!
My most successful blog post title was “What a Can of Red Bull Taught Me About Content Marketing”.
Last year, we published a post titled, “How Home Depot’s Marketing Strategy Is Paying Off” on our Mod Girl Marketing blog. The piece not only picked up 250 shares on social media, but it also became one of our top 10 most-viewed blog posts AND one of the top 10 landing pages for our website.
“Some say to avoid name-dropping, but it can work when used right and you know your target audience,” explains Mod Girl Marketing branding consultant Natalie Boyd. “The title reflects a major brand our audience is familiar with and invites them to learn,” she adds.
Many of our readers are fellow marketers, entrepreneurs and companies looking to gain competitive edge with their marketing efforts. Everyone loves a good case study that delves into the tactics and strategies that translate to real increases in sales. Examining specific examples of effective marketing can be much more informative than speaking in vague generalities, as so many articles do.
In short, the title implies that we’re going to take a more in-depth look into strategies used by big brand names to yield greater profits – and what company wouldn’t want that?
One of my best headlines was “The making of a social media slut”. I took a bit of a risk with this because I am usually a G-rated blogger but I decided to have some fun with the story.
It was a post about how I gave some advice to a young person that made me feel slimey. Was I becoming a social media dirt bag?
It was one of those posts you just write in 15 minutes — something that just happened in my day — and it became a very popular post, in large part due to the headline.
One example of a headline that worked very well for me is: “18 Most Downloaded WordPress Plugins Ever.“
The original article was so simple, just a short, ranked list of most downloaded plugins, but it ended up being the most viewed and shared article on my blog and that headline had a lot to do with it.
It worked because:
My best tip is to spend more time thinking of a great headline. For most bloggers the headline is just an afterthought that they come up with shortly before publishing the article.
The headline deserves a lot of your attention as not many will check out your content unless the headline attracts them to click on it in the first place when they’re scrolling in their social media news feeds.
I have more writing advice here.
I liked my title, “Before You Say Content One More Time“
It was a reference to Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction, but I think it was effective in getting clicks because of the “listening” prompt. At the time, many were providing opinions on how to create content, but I took a unique angle in suggesting creators listen before even starting.
Whether a writer is trying to be more clever or didactic in choosing words of the headline, it’s important to generate an emotional appeal.
Make the reader think they could be doing something wrong, competitors are doing things better, or the following information is going to solve a problem. All three sentiments hit a reader in the gut and inspire them to click through.
I founded the marketing coaching blog, MarketingThink.com, to help individuals and brands improve their social media strategy. My most successful headline for this blog is ‘How To Write The Perfect Tweet’ – demonstrated by the amount over 2,000 direct social shares!
This headline resonated with readers because it offered actionable advice to improve a serious social media need – ‘I don’t know how to Tweet.’
To achieve similar success I coach all headline writers to focus on three key strategies:
1. WIIFM. Convey what the reader will get by reading further
2. Short. Keep it short so readers don’t get bored half way through – the headline
3. Surprise. Surprise readers with relevant and surprising copy like ‘Perfect Tweet’ – is there really such a thing as anything that’s perfect?
This headline works for four simple reasons. First, list posts work — really well and everyone should use them. Second, the reader is being told specifically how many strategies they’ll get and how hard they are — in this case, there are five and they are simple. Next, is the keyword phrase ‘Beating Procrastination’, this clearly states what problem the reader will overcome by reading this article. And last, the reader is told how long their problem will be fixed for. In this case, ‘once and for all.’
I think it worked well on a number of levels:
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