How to Write a Successful Headline

Struggling to get your content read? Worried that your headlines aren't pulling in enough readers? Your headline is the first thing your reader will see about your content and, if your headline doesn't grab their interest, put simply, your content won't be read. And, after all, isn't getting your content read the point? Read on to find out how to write the headline that will pull in the most readers. For this post, I will taking my information from Ogilvy's On Advertising, an incredibly informative book, that provides a great overview about everything marketing and advertising. Below are some of the most important bits:

  1. When you begin writing your headline, you should make sure that the headline will provide a benefit. The reader should stand to gain something from reading your content and the headline should communicate this. For example:

    "Learn how to fish" will be more attractive than "Fishing".

  2. As well, your headline should be unique. Although it sounds obvious, you should check to make sure that your headline is different from the others that it will be surrounded with. Otherwise, it will simply be overlooked.
  3. All information presented should be as specific as possible. Specific information will give you a sense of credulity while providing readers with actionable knowledge. For instance:

    "1/10 people will suffer a workplace accident" is much more powerful than "some people will experience a workplace accident"

  4. If you're selling your content to a specific group of people, be sure to address that group in the headline as they will feel a more personal connection with what you have to say. These are some possible groups that you might want to include if your headline addresses them:
    1. Mothers
    2. People over the age 65
    3. Students

A good headline will also create a sense of urgency. Using words such as "Now", "Hurry", "Don't wait" and others will tell the reader that they should read your text to receive immediate benefit.

Here are some other quick things you should consider when writing your headline:

  • If you're writing for a brand, include the brand in the headline
  • Putting your headline in quotes can get it read more than those that do not.
  • Disguising your headline as news can make it more interesting
  • Never end your headline with a period

The last thing to note about headlines is length. A lot of research has been done about the optimal headline length, however it appears that the length often has no effect on how effective a headline is. MailChimp conducted a study to see if longer headlines were read more often than shorter ones and the results showed that there was no difference between the two. What should be learned from this is that headlines should be only as long as they need to be and that they should contain no unnecessary words. Your headline should contain all the important information about the content you want to promote.

This guide will have hopefully given you more insight into how to create a successful headline. Keep in mind that this is just a brief overview on writing headlines. There have been entire books written on the subject. Seriously.