Hitting the nail on the head(line)

You only get to make a first impression once, and that principle applies as much to online content as it does to job interviews and first dates. Except, in the case of marketing efforts, this applies to your headline. Research reveals that consumers often judge a blog, social media post or email almost exclusively by its headline. Clearly, then, it is crucial that you take the time to ensure that you are writing an engaging and compelling headline. The right headline can attract readers and even start a viral marketing campaign, while a lackluster one can deter people from going one step forward.

This isn’t always easy of course, and many people devote years to learning the secrets of a great headline. However, there are a few simple steps and tricks that you can use to demystify the process of writing a fabulous headline.

Don’t give it all away
It may be enticing to use your headline to express all the nuances of the accompanying copy, but this may actually be doing you a disservice. Like a great movie title or news teaser, it is often best to simply give your reader a taste of what is to come. In this regard, questions can be quite effective. Similarly, using your headline to deliver a hint of what your article or blog will focus on without giving away the conclusion is one popular way to ensure that your readers continue all the way to the end of the piece.

Use humor
Odds are, your readers aren’t going to dive into your piece because they think it will unlock the secrets of the universe. Rather, they are more likely to give your piece a read because they believe it will provide a few small bits of information, a brief distraction or a brisk, enjoyable read. Play into this expectation by including a little humor or wit in your headline. You don’t want to overdo it – a particularly repugnant pun can do more to dissuade a reader than an overly dry sentence – but you shouldn’t be afraid to spice your headline up with a light dusting of humor.

Keep it short
Above all, though, it is important to keep your headline terse. A winding, wordy headline is likely to be a non-starter. so aim for a few words – five to eight is a good range – that pique your readers’ interest without divulging too much about the following article.

What tricks have you used to improve your headlines? Share some of your best tips below!

 

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Martin Jones

Martin Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution for Cox Business social media & content marketing. Today, over 1 million fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. LinkedIn and Google+.