Your Guide to the Perfect Headline

Your Guide to the Perfect Headline

You need to write better headlines. It’s true. It’s the only way to get eyes on that super-amazing, creative campaign you’re currently running. Or to let users know the goods they are interested in are available for sale on your website. Or to get more traffic to your blog and improve SEO.

No matter what your goal is, your headline is a pretty important (and often overlooked) piece of the puzzle.

How important? According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline. However, only two out of 10 will proceed to the rest of your content.

If that doesn’t drive the point home, here’s an impactful quote that might change your perspective: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

In a crowded newsfeed of friends, family, groups and, well, advertisements, what makes a user click? With limitations on character count, photos, and content, headlines are all users have to go on.

Let’s start with these five popular tips that define headline best practices. These provide a great starting point when thinking about your headline and even after you’ve written your headline, use them to double check you’re hitting the mark.

  1. Make your headline all about the benefit
    • What value does it offer your audience? Is it what they are interested in? Why should they click on this?
  2. Be as specific as possible
    • Use exact numbers when possible. The more specific, the more credible.
  3. Summarize the content truthfully
    • Don’t give false promises (looking at you, click-baiters), where will this link take them?
  4. Be compelling, not clever
    • I love a good pun more than anyone, but headlines aren’t the place for wordplay, be straightforward to avoid confusion.
  5. Use subheaders whenever possible
    • Seize the opportunity to add more context to your headline.

Now, let’s get into the actual headline-writing process. What seems like it should take no more than 10 minutes of your time, is actually a bit more complex. There should be a lot of thought put into each headline. After all, if you can’t get readers to click, then the rest of your words may as well not even exist.

Step 1: Research

You may have already done this research for your brand, and if so, you’re halfway there. If not, this is a crucial step in the process of writing the perfect headline. Start with keyword research. What is your audience searching for? How will they find you?

Once you’ve come up with keywords that are important to not only the landing page but your brand in general, use them. Use them EVERYWHERE. In your URL, headline, subheads, imagery, graphics, meta description, first sentence, last sentence, body copy. This is how you let the world, and most importantly the search engines, know what it’s about.

The next phase of research should be on your audience. How will you connect with them? Your headline should be a reflection of them. Research phrases, ways of talking, how they explain things, so you can then mimic this and make it super personal.

Step 2: Write 10 headlines

The first step is to just start. Get those first thoughts out and see the different ways you can word them, include a variety of information that you think hits the spot.

Step 3: Write 15 more

No, seriously. There are probably 100 ways you can word the headline and doing this will help you feel confident that the one you end up choosing is the right one.

Step 4: Eliminate your least favorite

The elimination process. You’ll usually know which ones will be most effective. After you eliminate the worst, take your top five selects and poll your team. Asking which one they would be most likely to click on will help solidify your decision.

Step 5: A/B Test

The only way to improve and know your community is by A/B testing. You can read research from all other brands and businesses, but none of them are exactly like yours. Take the top two headlines and pose them against each other. This will ensure you know your audience going forward and can use these learning for next time.

As we’ve mentioned before, our attention span is at about eight seconds, so headlines truly carry a great responsibility for whether a post will be opened, read, and shared. Putting the time and effort necessary to write great ones will only benefit you and help reach your goals. Need a formula (or 100) for your headlines? Tweet us at @socialfly or email us at info@socialflyny.com and we can help!

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