Everyone knows that headlines are important so why is so little time spent formulating a headline that will entice yout audience?
You cannot deny that headlines are crucial as they work to attract your audience and encourage them to read your content. This is evident from Copyblogger’s findings that 80% of people will read the headline but just 20% proceed to read the article. Consequently,research suggests you should spend half the amount of time formulating an eye-catching headline as it does writing the whole article.
One particularly prominent sport related headline that I recall is The Sun’s ‘Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Attrocious’ an obvious spin on the famous line from Mary Poppins.
It is remarkable that this headline received as much publicity as it did for a third round Scottish Cup game and is still remembered today, even though the game took place over 14 years ago. This coupled with the fact that Scottish football is often dismissed as being inferior to the English leagues shows the power of a great headline.
For me Buzzfeed are the true champions when creating enticing headlines. I tend to be quite reluctant to click on sponsored advertisements that appear on my browser when I am reading something completely unrelated. However the appeal of Buzzfeed’s headlines always lures me to their articles. But I am not the only one. One article entitled ’21 Pictures that will restore your faith in humanity’ received over 15 million views, which is almost the entire population of the Netherlands. Pretty crazy when you think about it like that. The use of numbers, which is commonplace for a Buzzfeed article, at the start of the headline and the huge website views that follow is no coincidence. It is based on clear data that states numbered headlines outperform ‘reader addressing’ ‘how to’ and ‘question’ headlines by some distance as shown below.
The use of numbers is also one of the 5 tricks to produce better headlines that leading author on this topic, Jeff Goins, advocates. Even more remarkably, if you use odd numbers the click-through rate is 20% higher.
However it is not just newspapers and social news websites that need eye-catching headlines, it is extremely prominent in all aspects of marketing. Whether you are writing blog articles, email campaigns or social posts it is crucial that you take time to perfect your headline.
Ok so you now appreciate that headlines are important but how do you determine whether your headline is effective and resonates with your audience I hear you ask. Well fortunately there are three ways to discover such information.
1. Social Interaction on your Content
Social media provides us with a quick and easy way to ascertain the popularity of a particular article. With variances potentially down to the headline used. The two images below highlight the social interaction for Buzzfeed on both twitter and Facebook respectively. The twitter post received over 200 retweets and over 450 favourites. The Facebook post received over 60,000 shares, just short of 40,000 likes and thousands of comments.
2. Open rates for email marketing campaigns
It is also possible to observe the success of headlines or the subject line with emails by monitoring the open rates. This information is readily available via a number of email marketing programmes and enables you to tweak your headlines to see which is the most successful. This can then be used as a basis for future campaigns. Some email marketing programmes are sophisticated enough to provide you with the opportunity to set different headlines that are sent to those that did not open the first email. This is not just a tactic for small businesses trying to resonate with a limited audience. Amazingly this trial and error approach to email marketing was utilized in the Presidential campaign of Barack Obama, with a number of different subject lines used and the success rates of each noted.
3. Re-release old content
It is also worth using new headlines for old (but still relevant) content that may not have achieved the levels of success that you had hoped for. Any differences will be solely down to the headline used.
Even with a great headline, you are unlikely to be successful if you have a small target audience. It is crucial that you gain exposure and create a real buzz about your company. You need to utilize all the social media platforms at your disposal from Facebook to Pinterest in order to get that much sought after coverage for your business. Once you have successfully increased the size of your audience, this is when the true benefits of a great headline become apparent.
Similarly, if the content does not fulfil the criteria of the three E’s – to entice, educate and entertain then even the most gripping headlines will not lead to increased click-through rates due to their discontent (excuse the pun) with what they found previously. Also enticing images should accompany gripping headlines as research has found response rates to a visual images are 40% higher than plan text.
In order to monitor the response rates to your content I strongly recommend the implementation of benchmarks. These will enable you to determine whether you have surpassed your expectations or fallen short. Similarly a dashboard can be used to provide monthly performance reports to see how much traffic was driven to your website as a result of your marketing efforts.
It would be extremely naïve to believe your company will achieve the levels of social interaction that Buzzfeed have achieved overnight. It requires creating great content that people feel obliged to share and talk about. It works like the latest gossip on the school playing field. Within moments everyone knows about it.
If you want help creating great headlines, gain much needed exposure for your company and create content that fulfils the three E’s then contact KG Moore on 01206 848458, email us at email@example.com or fill in the form below.
About the author: Oliver Hearsum
Oliver Hearsum is an aspiring marketer and recent Business Management graduate from the University of East Anglia. Inspired by his studies and love of marketing, Oliver offers innovative, fresh ideas and insight. He applies his knowledge to a number of areas at KG Moore including customer insight development, market research, social media, PR and copywriting.
Join me on kgmoore.co.uk