We’re all inundated with content every day. A simple search leads to thousands – or even millions – of websites, articles, blogs, social media posts and more, all promising to deliver just what we need. But, with busy lives and shorter-than-ever attention spans, we don’t spend time reading all that content to find what we are looking for. Instead, we speed-read headlines. As per Copyblogger, eight out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only two will read the content beyond the headline.
That’s why great content can easily be ignored. If the headline doesn’t resonate, we just don’t read further.
A headline is the workhorse in your content stable. It’s what draws your reader in right away, enhances your brand promise and delivers value. Not putting time, thought and emphasis on headline development can easily wreck your content marketing strategy.
So, what separates the great headlines from the not-so-great? It pretty much comes down to three things.
Explain the value. Headlines that explain the value of the content that follows, work. Top-ranking content often features headlines that use appropriate value-centric words like “Gain” and “Increase,” or words that encourage, like “How to.” To drive more value into your headlines, think of them as mini articles that summarize the value found within the content.
Get specific. Too often, headlines go for more flash than substance and end up being vague. To make headlines more specific, it is critical to know the audience the content is designed for. What are their pain points and their needs? Assuming the content identifies and solves a problem, the headline should too.
Tell the truth. Headlines that are inaccurate, over-promise or mislead are easy to write, and do much damage to your brand and your reputation. Every headline should convey the honest value in the content and promise exactly what the content will deliver.
You put time and effort into writing your blog post, your email or your whitepaper. Why not take the time to craft a headline or subject line worthy of your content? Once your content is written, brainstorm headline options. Then, look for terms that will help you optimize that headline for search and social and apply those to your headline drafts. Make sure your revised options specifically explain the value of the content that will follow and that those options are truthful. Then, get a second opinion about the accuracy and creativity of your options from a trusted reader. Use that input to further refine your final-draft headline.