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social media how toDo your headlines capture the attention of the right people?

Need some good ideas to enhance your headlines?

A great headline gets your audience to stop, read and share your content.

In this article you’ll discover four ways to craft stronger headlines to engage your readers.

Why Headlines Are Critical

Every marketer is looking for ways to get his or her content noticed on social media. This is particularly important for small businesses that lack the budget to support every piece of content with advertising and other paid marketing tactics.

To capture your audience’s time and attention, you need a strong headline. As David Ogilvy famously said, “On average, only 1 out of 5 readers gets beyond your headline.”

craft headlines that draw people to content

Discover how to craft headlines that draw people to your content.

Listen to this article:

According to a Chartbeat study of a random sample of 2 billion page views generated by 580,000 articles, 55% of visitors spent less than 15 seconds on a page.

Another notable finding is that social sharing gets your content distributed, but not necessarily read. People who share content are only a small fraction of the people who visit that content, according to Chartbeat’s analysis of 10,000 socially shared articles.

9 percent image shutterstock 177935564

9% of readers will interact with your content.

This data supports the social media participation 90-9-1 principle: 90% will lurk, 9% will do something small (such as share) and 1% will create content or participate.

Because you have such a brief opportunity to gain your audience’s attention, it’s important to have a strong headline that compels visitors to read and share your content.

Here are four easy ways you can improve your headlines.

#1: Demonstrate Value With Numbers

A 2013 Conductor study published on Moz researched what types of headlines resonate best with readers. The results aren’t a surprise: The top two performers were headlines that include a number (30 Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful) and address readers (Ways You Can Make Drinking Tea More Delightful).

conductor headline study chart

According to this Conductor study, headlines that include a number or address readers personally have the best chance of resonating with readers.

#2: Find Resources for Inspiration

Writing great headlines can be challenging, but you can get some inspiration by looking at the types of headlines that have worked for others time and again.

Check out Jon Morrow’s free ebook, 52 Headline Hacks, a treasure trove of headline ideas and suggestions, for a great resource. The author provides 52 headline templates that you can adapt and includes a short explanation of why these headlines have worked successfully for others.

One of Morrow’s most popular articles has an engaging three-element headline: How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World.

jon morrow headline on problogger

This three-element headline by Jon Morrow helped make this an incredibly popular article people couldn’t resist.

For additional headline ideas, take a look at what’s working for your peers. Social sharing is one way to determine what’s working on other sites when you can’t see the actual results.

#3: Use Your Customers’ Questions

Marcus Sheridan recommends that you give readers the information they’re actively seeking. In other words, “They ask, you answer.”

For example, River Pools posted an article to answer a common question from customers interested in fiberglass pools. The key information is delivered right in the headline: How Much Does a Fiberglass Pool Cost?

marcus sheridan headline

This headline shares a popular question from customers. It’s something people want to know the answer to.

This headline above resonated with customers because it told them what they wanted to know. According to Sheridan, this article generated about $2 million in sales.

Keep in mind that you also want to avoid giving away too much information in the headline. For example, when the article, 27.7% of Senior Management Champion Social Media – Does Yours?, was first posted, it had a low click-through rate. Why? The headline gave away too much information, so readers weren’t compelled to click-through and read the article.

#4: Brainstorm Potential Headlines for Options

It’s easy to treat the headlines for your articles as an afterthought and use the first idea that comes to mind, but chances are your first headline won’t be your strongest. To find the best possible headline for your content, take some time to brainstorm potential titles.

Upworthy, for example, focuses on getting great headlines by asking their writers to craft at least 25 headlines for every article.

upworthy slideshare slide about headlines

Upworthy asks writers for 25 potential headlines for each piece of content.

While you may not have the time or inclination to write 25 headlines for every article your write or every piece of content you create, try to brainstorm enough potential headlines to give yourself some different options. When you’re finished, review your list and choose the best headline for your article or content.

Five More Quick Tips to Improve Headlines

Here are five more quick tips for writing headlines that attract more social media attention.

1. Use your audience’s language. Based on your marketing and social personas, determine which words and phrases resonate with your social followers. Then incorporate them in your content.

2. Learn your audience’s pain points. As Marcus Sheridan advises, answer the questions that keep your audience up at night.

3. Be clear. Avoid using an attention-grabbing headline if it will muddy your audience’s understanding of the topic. Disappointing potential readers will make them less likely to read or share your content.

4. Test different headlines to determine what works best for your content. Where appropriate, modify and tailor your headlines for different social channels. At minimum, you can test headlines by posting the same content at different times on social platforms.

5. Track headline results. Measure what resonates best for your marketing goals. Focus on what types of headlines drive site visits, email registrations and sales.

Conclusion

When it comes to improving your headlines, pay attention to what works for others, but also make sure that your titles stand out in the social feed for your target audience.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these tactics? Do you have an example of a favorite headline to share? What’s your favorite headline tip for attracting social attention? Please leave your comments and questions below.

9 percent photo from Shutterstock.
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  • One of the best marketers ever “David Ogilvy”, once said this:

    “On the average, 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.”

    This was a great article with some very useful data, it made me want to go over all of my blog posts and change all the headlines (-:

  • Thank you for including Jon Morrow’s ebook! Both of your insights are incredibly helpful!

  • David Simons

    Highly valuable article, thank you so much Heidi!

  • Great stuff Heidi. I have seen similar results with your #1 point on using numbers. They seem to set expectations. I think that a great framework is “X ways to accomplish Y” because it also includes the benefit that the reader could obtain if they click on the headline.

    I do have a personal bias against big numbers…when I see something like “100 ways to improve your Pinterest marketing” I often wish that the author could have first narrowed it down to the best 10-15 options for me.

  • Jack Nargundkar

    Heidi, you might want to read my September 2013 post, “If the headline doesn’t tick, people won’t click!” on my blog, “The Marketing Id” – which sort of reinforces some of what you have outlined here.

  • thanks Heidi, headlines are always a challenge for those of use that are not copy writers

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  • heidicohen

    Ilan,

    Going bad and editing your blog post headings can make them more attractive to new visitors.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • heidicohen

    Steph,

    Jon Morrow is a master of the headline that pulls readers in.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • heidicohen

    David,

    Glad to be of help.

    Many people think about the headlineds on their blogs and content marketing but overlook their importance for social media.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • heidicohen

    Jeff–

    You make an interesting point about numbers. While many people think the bigger the better, often times readers just save the article if it’s too long but never return to gather the useful information.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • heidicohen

    Jack–

    Headlines are a perennial important topic for content creators and social media participants.

    Thank you for letting me know about your post.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • heidicohen

    JoAnne,

    I appreciate that crafting the optimal headline takes practice. I suggest checking out some of the resources listed here.

    Also, follow Upworthy’s advice: Crank out 25 headlines before you choose.

    Remember practice, practice, practice.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • Maybe this will even make he old visitors want to re-read the blog post from a different point of view (-: The better the headline the better the post!

  • Nice post Heidi! Many great tips here to use with my clients. 🙂 Thanks!

  • heidicohen

    Steve–

    Thank you!

    I suggest that we all work on improving our headlines to improve our results. They don’t happen by themselves. The biggest challenge is practice.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • Pingback: How To Launch A Successful Business Blog - Heidi Cohen()

  • Hey Heidi,

    Great post. The headlines that usually get a high number of clicks for me are the ones with numbers and the ‘How To” posts. I have been using more copywriting formulas and headline analyzer tools like coschedule to help me come up with click-worthy, engaging headlines.

    Thanks for the share Heidi! Have a great weekend!

  • linacostaa

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  • linacostaa

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  • heidicohen

    Sherman–

    Thanks for taking the time to contribute.

    I’ve had the same experience. The challenge I find is that there are so many people writing huge lists that often times people share them but never get around to reading them.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • Terry Gruchacz

    I read an article saying to use action or attention getting words like Alert, Protect, Children, Stop in the headline. I have found out if I am able to tie my headline into a recent major news item, I get more views. Thank you for the article.

  • david

    You are right! Some articles may not even be viewed if the title is too common. Thanks for this fantastic post.

  • david

    That is the fact.

  • Great post!

    I use Jon’s Headline Hacks along with headline generators from Hub Spot, Tweak Your Biz, Internet Marketing Course Free Headline Generator, and Portent. I’ll also write 10 or more headlines and trust my “gut” instinct as to which one is the best.

  • Rick Weaver

    This was an excellent thought-provoking article. I agree that the headline is probably the most important part of the article (assuming the article relates exactly to the headline.

  • heidicohen

    Terry–

    Associating a title with trending topics can help attract attention. Be careful because you must deliver on the headline’s promise.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • heidicohen

    David,

    Your title must talk to your target audience in their language.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • heidicohen

    Amandah–

    You’re ahead of many content creators. Upworthy says write at least 25 titles–yet often do more than that and can’t always trust their gut.

    Don’t be afraid to test different titles to see what performs best.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • heidicohen

    Rick–

    I totally agree that you must deliver on your title’s promise or you risk someone won’t read your content again.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen