Are you guilty of boring blog titles? Nothing can devastate the ROI of a content marketing campaign faster than poor titles. Would you click on anything that resembled the articles below? Probably not:
Why Good Blog Titles are All Too Rare
5 Tips for Blog Titles
How to Write a Blog Title
There's nothing technically wrong with these examples. They're grammatically correct. However, they fail to touch on some of the most important criteria of effective B2B blog titles, to be:
Your clients don't want to learn how to do things "well" or "good," because there's no room for vague improvement in business. They want actionable tips that will lead to quantifiable improvements in their organisation. If your content doesn't promise significant value and serious results, you'll struggle to gain traffic and subscribers.
[Tweet "Clients don't want to learn how to do things "well" or "good": there's no room for vague improvement."]
Why Do B2B Blog Titles Matter So Much?
In many cases, your titles act as a first impression for your content. When your prospects are scrolling through their LinkedIn feed or Twitter, they click on the content that seems most interesting. In fact, data scientist Dan Zarrella found that 16.12% of content has more social media shares than views, indicating that people don't always read what they share. A powerful title could be the difference between hundreds of clicks and shares, or absolute silence.
No one ever said that content marketing is easy. It's a lot of work to do it well. Publishing a fabulous article with a mediocre title is like trying to run a marathon in flip flops. It's simply not worth your time. Here are some ways to ensure that every title you write is exceptional:
1. Banish Boring Words and Jargon
You're probably familiar with some of the classic boring words, things like good, nice, like, or better. Bland and uninspired, avoid using them in your titles - and consider taking things a step further by banishing words and jargon that are overused. Certain popular words are used so much that they give readers a form of 'title blindness'. Avoid them to stand out! The BBC reports that today's most overused words include:
Think carefully about the language you chose for your B2B blog titles, and the messages they communicate to your prospective readers. Do they show you've gone the extra mile by choosing terms that convey originality and intelligence, or are you echoing thousands of other blogs online?
[Tweet "Banish boring words and jargon to create sharp #B2B blog titles"]
Regardless of how you feel about viral website Buzzfeed and it's content, you've got to admit they're doing something right. Their list-format posts regularly gain thousands of clicks and shares.
So apply some of their success to your own blog by creating more list posts. Iris Shoor has found that people react best to numbers in titles, particularly when they're presented in numeric form, like "10 Reasons You Should Use More Numbers." Your audience are undoubtedly busy people, so let them know you value your time by quantifying exactly what they're committing to.
3. Be Careful About Length
Did you know that the number of words you choose can have a profound effect on your click-through? Studies by Outbrain have found that titles with 16-18 words garner by far the most clicks. While slight variance from this principle won't have too much of an affect on your outcomes, writing very long or extremely short titles on a regular basis certainly might.
Did you know that traditional advertising copywriters regularly draft 50 or more headlines before they're ready to present a concept? While you don't need to make a similar commitment, it's crucial that you're putting enough time and effort into your headlines. Draft, redraft, and polish to perfection.
[Tweet "Did you know: traditional ad copywriters draft 50+ headlines before they're ready to present? #B2B"]
5. Be Actionable
There's actual data behind the idea of writing "actionable" B2B blog titles. Headlines with more verbs and adverbs earn as many as 7% more clicks than headlines filled with nouns and adjectives. If you're short on length and light on verbs, consider using more descriptive language to spell out for your readers what your content will help them accomplish.
6. Consider Sensationalism
HubSpot's Pamela Vaughan reports that one of their best-performing B2B blog titles of all time is "4 Reasons Your Website Sucks." It's certainly edgy, and perhaps too over-the-top for most industries. However, you can certainly leverage the same concept of shocking your readers into clicks. Newspapers have been doing it for decades.
7. Don't Show Your SEO
Your headline should never look like a desperate bid for SEO optimization. If it reads awkwardly, you'll probably annoy both your audience and search engines. Avoid cramming in keywords that simply don't work, or generally feel like keywords and write naturally.
Business today is more data-driven then ever. Even B2B prospects in decidedly "soft" industries are conscious of using data to improve. If your content features fresh or original research, be sure to display this by using a format that resembles the following:
10 Data-Driven Ways to Improve Your Performance in Human Resources
10 Findings from the Latest Research Reports on B2B Marketing
9. Create a Sense of Urgency
If your title doesn't convey relevance, urgency, or importance, you'll struggle to earn clicks. Your content should seem as original and current as possible. Title examples to achieve this include:
22 Ways to Improve Your B2B Digital Marketing Outreach Today
14 Hard Facts You Can't Ignore After Google's Recent Announcement
Writing 'evergreen' content; content that remains relevant for months (or years) after it is created, is one way to boost clicks over time. This content often takes the form of 'how-to' guides, frequently asked questions and tutorials, and tends to be useful, perfect for referencing, and ideal for social sharing.
While poor B2B blog titles are more common than well-written headlines for terrible articles, it still happens on occasion. Never allow your headline to deceive your reader in any way. If you're only offering 12 tips, don't say you have 14. It's deceptive and won't win you any fans.
Have you improved your content marketing headlines recently? What do you think are the most crucial things to avoid when drafting effective titles? Share your tips in the comments!