First impressions are everything, right? And that’s exactly what a headline is; a first impression.
The headline writer’s art is to sell stories to readers by telling them what the content is about and grabbing their attention – without misleading them.
It’s important to get this right before you publish your content. Even if your content is truly unique and wonderfully interesting, a weak headline will deplete the chances of success.
This applies press releases, blogs, case studies and email subject lines, as well as social media posts.
It’s a lot harder than it seems. I have occasionally been known to spend a lot longer dwelling over a headline than writing a lengthy feature!
Here are five ways you can help maximise the impact of your headlines.
1. Align it with the content
Your headline should accurately reflect the angle of your content. Ask yourself what is the point of this content and what is the important point it makes? If your headline doesn’t address these points, try again!
2. Avoid clickbait. At all costs!
Headlines must be correct in fact and implication. If your headline over-promises and under-delivers your readers will be disappointed. Not only that, they may well leave comments that, ultimately, will undermine your credibility and reputation.
Whatever you do, create a sense of excitement with your headlines, but manage your readers’ expectations!
3. Share your experience
For example, “What I learned” is great for a headline. Speaking directly to your readers from experience will help you not only gain their trust, but also promises useful information and solutions.
4. Include numbers
People love to see numbers in headlines, and this is especially true when they seem difficult to believe! If you’ve included a powerful statistic in your content, try and work it into your headline.
This also works especially if you’re writing a list. Including how many items you’re listing will give your readers a clear idea of what to expect.
5. Ask a question
Us humans tend to be naturally curious, so by asking a funny or strange question, you’re likely to compel readers to want to find out more. By creating what is known as a curiosity gap, you’ll tease your reader with a hint of what’s to come, without giving all the answers away.
If you’re still unsure about your headline, always ask yourself:
- Is it in good taste? Is there anything offensive in the headline that could be taken the wrong way?
- Can it be improved so it’s even more interesting, without sacrificing accuracy
- Is it factually accurate? Are the proper words or terms from the article used in the headline?
- Does it communicate the key points of the article? Is it clear and simple? Does it use the active voice and active verbs? Does it exclude jargon?
If not, then rethink until it’s right!
How do you make sure your headlines hit the spot?