If you want your content to stand out, you need to master the art of title writing. From eBooks to blog posts to emails - how can you write effective headlines?
The headline of a post can make or break its success. The relevancy of a title to your buyer audience affects the overall traffic and reach that that content can achieve, and influences its effectiveness in nurturing buyers.
According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read your headline, but only 20% will read the entire article.
Clearly, if you want your content to stand out, you need to master the art of title writing. So from eBooks to blog posts to emails - how can you write effective headlines?
Here are seven key tips:
For your content to resonate with the right audience, it needs to address the challenges, issues and topics that are relevant to them. So once you know who your buyer personas are and have identified key topics of interest to them (challenges that your brand can help to address), start to use this information to create your content ideas.
Great titles show readers that the rest of the content will work to solve their pain points, or help them to do something. So when drafting a title, always check that it:
Remember; to effectively nurture prospects, you will need a range of content (and titles) to support each stage of the buyer's journey.
Headlines should be specific, make a promise to the reader of how content will benefit them, and if possible, prompt the viewer to read the piece right now.
To stay on track during the writing process, it helps to have a draft title in place. During the content planning stage, once you know the topic and angle you want to address, it’s wise to draft between 3-10 working headlines.
Remember, while your content will be guided by your working title(s), at this stage the final title is not cast in stone. Once the content is complete you’ll need to come back to your title, refine it and ensure it aligns well with both the topic at hand, and with your buyer audience. Having a colleague review your list of draft titles can help at this stage.
When drafting, consider that great content headlines - of any content format - will:
You may also want to consider drafting your title ideas around the format your content will take. Example structures you might use include:
It’s easy to go off at a tangent when writing content. Ideas flow and before you know it, the headline does not reflect the bulk of the content.
To prevent this from happening, it’s important not to cover too much ground at once. Effective content typically delivers focussed value around one buyer-relevant topic or idea at a time. Your headline should reflect that; giving specifics on exactly what readers can expect to find within.
Once you have your topic-focussed working title in place, it’s best practice to draft a detailed, related content structure to keep the rest of your post on track. Then, if each section of your structure aligns with the focus of your title, your content will remain relevant, helpful, and valuable to your audience.
A good way to encourage readers to click through or download your content, is to ensure the title indicates exactly what readers can expect; from the content’s format, to the challenge solution. In a study by Hubspot titles using a [bracketed clarification] were shown to perform 38% better than headings without bracketed clarifications. So if your content is a video, say so! If it’s a step-by-step how-to guide, say so!
For example, focussed, bracketed content headlines (which also address a buyer-relevant topic) may be:
Does the tone of your title and content match the attitude of your readers? Depending on your audience, brand, and the topics you address, you might create titles that read as fun, serious, humorous, authoritative and more.
It’s important to match the tone and voice of your titles with reader expectations to help your content stand out, and make the right impression. Having an established house style, and approach to brand storytelling can help here. If you’re not sure what tone will work best for your audience, consider researching and experimenting with your titles - within reasonable parameters. Alliteration, comedy, controversy, and use of certain words can all make an impact.
According to HubSpot, headlines featuring the word "photo(s)" perform 37% better than headlines without this word. Titles that mention ‘Who’ also see a 22% higher CTR.
As well as being catchy, relevant and targeted, great titles are succinct. But a brief title does more than ensure clarity; it means that the complete title will appear in search results, can be easily shared on social channels, and will also look good on mobile.
For blogs, eBooks and other related content it’s best to keep titles between 8-10 words, and under 70 characters if possible.
Want your content to be found easily? Then make sure your titles align with the way people use search engines.
Simply cramming a short keyword into your title isn’t enough to see SEO success today. Search and SEO are always evolving. Now, as search engines become more able to adapt to the context and intent behind a search, they can deliver more accurate results.
For writers, that means titles need to be written for buyers - for humans rather than search engines. To start:
Writing effective, clickable headlines is not an exact science. Success rates will vary from business to business and topic to topic; don’t be afraid to research and experiment. To really enhance your titles, get other members of your team to brainstorm alternatives, check the optimisation of your post, and suggest alternatives. You’ll be amazed how many different headlines evolve!