IF YOU ARE WRITING lackluster headlines, you are wasting your time. Your marketing content will never be read. Too often, headlines seem to be an afterthought, which is a colossal misstep. Copyblogger reported in 2015 that 8 out of the 10 people who see your headline will read it, but only 2 out of those 8 people will read the accompanying article — and that’s only if your headline is compelling. Research conducted in 2011 by KISSmetrics indicates the perfect length for a headline is six words or less, since people have a tendency to scan the first and last three words of a longer headline. How can you write a truly persuasive headline? Try these six proven strategies for writing compelling headlines that will leave your readers wanting more. Shock: Readers love novelty. Surprising headlines activate the pleasure centers in our brains much more than seeing content we already know about, because we prefer the unpredictable to the known subconsciously. For example, one headline that might grab your attention might read, “Surprising facts about your home security risks.” Curiosity: Sparking a reader’s interest by asking a question can be a persuasive headline strategy, assuming you know the right question to ask. Simply seeing a question mark springs your brain into action as you think about your answer. If your headline is a question, make sure you feel confident your audience will want to see it answered. Problem solving: Our brains are hardwired to solve problems. When a writer presents a headline that seems to speak to the unique problems we face, we tune in. For example, one headline that will speak to many readers might say, “For people who are prone to running injuries, but love to run.” Negativity: Perhaps because negative headlines are unexpected — or possibly because they trigger the reader’s insecurities — negative headlines generally outperform their positive counterparts significantly, whether we like it or not. After all, we’ve all responded to negative headlines that say things like “Avoid these five foods to improve energy.” Lists: Most people like it when articles are neatly packaged into numbered lists. In fact, a 2014 CoSchedule study analyzed more than one million blog post headlines and reported numbered lists outperformed any other headline by nearly double. How-To: Every day, we all have entirely too many tasks to accomplish, too many priorities to sort, too much information to digest, and not enough time for any of it. If your headline tells your readers how to gain control of their lives and make better sense of things, you’re likely to have a lively readership. Headlines matter more than you would think. If you are going to write content, plan to spend at least half of your writing time developing an attention-grabbing, persuasive headline. It’s an investment that can pay big dividends.
This blog was written by RedRover’s CEO & Founder, Lori Turner-Wilson. Read more about Lori and her unwavering commitment to guaranteed marketing results in her bio.