A post’s headline determines whether someone decides to click. That makes it even more vital than the call-to-action – after all, nobody can take the action you want if they’re not reading in the first place!
Some of the most popular sites on the Web owe their success to ingenious headlines. Upworthy started this trend, growing an unknown site into a viral sensation viewed by tens of millions each month before settling to a more modest seven million.
Upworthy headlines are losing their punch (“they’re everywhere,” people cry) but headlines remain critical. Revising, refining, and testing headlines can lead to more effective content marketing.
Here’s five ways to make your own click-worthy headlines:
1) Add Numbers
Numbers are effective because they ground people and let them know what they’ll get for their time. “Five” or “seven” points are easy enough to read quickly without getting lost or distracted. Take away the number and readers don’t know what kind of investment they’re about to make.
2) Drop in an Adjective
An adjective is a descriptive word such as “easy,” “simple,” or “quick.” In most cases, a headline should have only one adjective, but two can be appropriate. Chosen well, the adjective signals to the reader that they’re about to get something valuable they can use right away.
3) Make Your Headline a Call to Action
Even a simple headline can transform into a powerful, authoritative call to action. All you have to do is take the headline and kick it off with a strong verb. “Try These 5 Content Marketing Tips” is better than “5 Content Marketing Tips,” and much better than “Content Marketing Tips.”
4) Close With a Promise
By adding a timeframe or cost to the end of your headline, you turn it into an implicit offer your reader can’t (or at least shouldn’t) refuse! Consider these examples, where the promise at the end enhances the perceived value of the post:
- Use These 5 Tips to Write Click-Worthy Headlines in Minutes
- Learn How to Time Your Tweets and Get 30% More Shares
- Try These 3 Ideas to Boost Email Subscriptions Up to 500%
5) Test Your Headlines
If you have well-established content that sees a fair amount of traffic, use it for “safe” testing of headline best practices. Set up split tests that serve slightly different versions of the content with only the main headline changed. This will help you learn what attracts your users.
Legendary direct response copywriter David Ogilvy said “When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” Rather than be intimidated, think of this as a great opportunity. Even slightly better headlines can rejuvenate and empower all your content!