“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.”
David Ogilvy, known as the Father of Advertising
Think about that quote for a second. Why would you let your content-writing efforts go to waste if you don’t catch someone’s attention with the headline? Here at TeamRev, even we sometimes get stuck on creating a title, but we know it’s a crucial part of our work. Fear not, we’ve put together 5 tips for getting it right and making it captivating.
- Include a call to attention
The average person’s attention span is 8.25 seconds and decreasing every single year, meaning that we know almost instantaneously if something will appeal to us or not. So, for journalists, editors and PR professionals, it’s all about getting your readers invested straight away. It can be achieved by remembering the 4 Us.
The headline should be unique, ultra-specific, it should convey a sense of urgency and, most of all, be useful.
- You can test for uniqueness by searching a proposed headline in closed quotation marks in Google. That will tell you exactly what else is already out there.
- If you really know your audience, it will allow you to be specific. You should know their dilemmas, the things that really get them caught up, and you should be addressing this in your headline.
- It should make people want to click on the article – immediately! By knowing your audience (see above), you can strive to get to the bottom of their burning desires by addressing the root of the problem in the headline.
- Pose a question to suggest usefulness! Does your headline make people want to click and read?
- Adapt your language
One of the most obvious ways to create a great headline is with the language you use. Sometimes a simple switch of an adjective can give it a whole new meaning. It’s sometimes easy to slip into a way of using impressive words in a hope to get a better click rate. But why? If your readers are hungry for more useful information, why ask if they’re famished? They obviously mean exactly the same thing, but one sounds slightly more pretentious. We’ll leave that up to you to decide which is which.
Another useful tool is including emotive language. It all stems back to answering the readers’ questions in the headline but using emotive language can draw them in almost immediately. Some words simply stick to the status quo, whilst some have the power to prompt change. By using emotional power-words such as fulfil, triumph, staggering and uplifting, you can give your readers a pep talk and pull at their heart strings.
- Utilise a unique rationale
To put that simply: if you want people to read your content, do you have a good reason why they should? Will they benefit directly from what you’ve written? The answer, of course, should be yes and your headline needs to promote those benefits. Draw readers in by giving them tips, lessons, ideas, facts and strategies. Readers want to know they can gain something from the article, so let them in on the secret straight away. Like we’ve mentioned, if people don’t connect with the headline, then the article will be skimmed over completely – making the time and effort you spent creating the content pointless.
- Use specific numbers and data
Because of the way our brains work, we’re attracted to numbers as they allow us to automatically organise information in a logical order. A number is better than a word because it stands out, it breaks up a sentence and makes it digestible. And, for some bizarre reason, odd numbers are seen as more authentic than even numbers, so if you’re writing a list of tips, give them 7 or 9 pieces of advice – it can see an increase of click-through rate by 20%. (Did you notice how we’ve included 5 tips in this list?)
- Address your reader
Quite often, a simple trick to engage your reader is by addressing them personally. It’s in our nature to listen when we’re being spoken to directly so it’s a really easy way to connect with your audience. By getting personal, it allows you to speak to them on a level of trust and friendship – almost as if you’re doing them a favour by writing this content just for them!
The next time you’re stuck on the perfect headline for your work, no matter what the purpose may be, keep our tips in mind. There is a science behind it, but we’ve captured the essence, so you don’t have to. Happy writing!