You only get one chance. Just the one. This not an alarmist diatribe. It’s the truth.
You only get one chance to make sure your audience cares about what you have to say, amidst the veritable explosion of content and message delivery channels that compete for their attention every minute of every day.
Whether you’re creating a blog post, an email blast or a landing page, your headline is what determines whether or not your audience will continue reading down your page (or if they click through to your competitors’ content instead). Research suggests that 80% of your audience will never get beyond your headline. According to the Father of Advertising, David Ogilvy, “only one out of five readers gets beyond your headline”.
Given these somewhat startling statistics, improving your headline to attract more readers, generate more leads and convert more clicks is well worth the investment. Experts tend to postulate that 50% of time spent on a blog post should be dedicated to drafting its headline. If you have a large database of blog subscribers, why not segment your database? Try out three completely different headlines (followed by the exact same content) to determine what style best suits your audience.
So, here’s our go-to guide for headlines that compel.
Haven’t come across this acronym before? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the name of our favourite radio station. It stands for What’s In It For Me? And that’s what your headline (and the content that follows) has to convey to your audience immediately. Work out what your audience wants, needs, desires. Then demonstrate how your content will make their wants, needs and desires a reality. If you’re not sure how to accomplish this, simply add ‘Ways to…’ or ‘Why Your…’ or ‘How You Can…’. You get the gist.
Numbered lists work almost every time.
They work because they deliver on their very specific promise. Your audience knows, right from the get-go, what they are going to get out of your blog post, email or webpage. So, next time try a ‘10 Tips to’ or a ‘Six Secrets of’ type list.
Think about how your headline looks.
How your headline is presented can have a huge impact on readership levels. If you use all capital letters, this is equivalent to screaming at your audience. It’s not nice. It’s not polite. Avoid it at all costs. You are better off capitalising just the first letter of each word in a headline. It sets the headline apart from the content.
Give your audience the facts. Don’t throw in too many adjectives or superlatives. And don’t tell fibs, even if they are just little white lies. It will be obvious that your headline was a ploy designed to increase your readership. Your audience will remember next time.
Talk to your audience.
People identify blogs, emails, and web pages if you engage them. Talk directly to them. Know who your audience is and talk them like they’re an old friend. Be personal and informal. Use the word ‘You’ in your headline (just be sure to write in the second person).
About Sally Wood
Sally is the Chief Wordsmith at Wordly: a full-service copywriting, public relations, communications and editing agency in Melbourne, Australia. Having worked in marketing, communications and public relations roles for over ten years, Sally is well-versed in just about every aspect of message delivery. Her professional experience includes: copywriting for web, social media and print publications; marketing and public relations campaigns that deliver growth and improve brand awareness; and internal stakeholder communication programs that improve employee engagement. Sally holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Postgraduate Bachelor of Letters (Journalism and Public Relations) and is currently undertaking a Masters of Communication. For more information about Wordly’s range of services, visit: www.wordly.com.au.
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