Having been told over and over again that headlines matter most it’s amazing when you look at your in box and how quickly you delete most of what’s there. You may not know this, but 8 out of 10 people will at least scan your headlines, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. So it really doesn’t matter what you have to say, if you haven’t grabbed your audience at the get-go you’re never going to get them to read your friendly/interesting/inspirational words. You might as well give up.
So if your headlines are the most important part of your communication, how do you go about making sure that they stand out? The obvious point that you can’t write blog posts and newsletters by rote, let alone let allow someone who doesn’t really understand the importance of that first line write them for you. This appears to be disregarded by many.
Here are 5 ways to stop your posts and emails (and anything else you write) being a waste of time – and improve your odds of being read, and converting readers to customers.
1. Write your headline first. Get up from your desk, make a cuppa, go for a walk, go and talk to people and swirl ideas around in your head for a while on the subject matter you’ve chosen. Don’t use the first headline that comes into your head. You need something that will make people sit up, tell them you’re not going to waste their time and hopefully pique their interest. Once you’ve come up with a headline that works for you write it down fast.
2. Do your keyword research. Make sure that what you’re writing about is actually being searched for and try and craft your headline around that phrase. This helps you in many ways, not just because of SEO value, but also because…..eureka!…..this is what people want to read about.
3. Use a number in your headline. For some reason these nearly always work. Are you reading this? I’ll say no more.
4. Make it obvious you have something useful to say – use the words ‘how’, ‘why’, and ‘5 tricks to’, on whatever subject you’re writing about. Make people want to dive inside and see what you have to say.
5. Keep it short – long headlines can lose the message. Keep it short and informative at the same time. One scan and they’ll click through. Make them read it a few times to get the meaning and they’ll probably be gone.
Of course there are other ways to get attention. The Huffington Post for example keeps right on top of what’s happening and frequently sensationalises through headlines. They are brilliant at getting most of us to read their content. This won’t work for some, however it’ll give you an idea of headlines that ‘shout’ and demand you look. Which is what you want, after all………