Since you are reading this article despite its title, it means that I’ve gotten your attention.
You see, people often do the very thing they are asked not to do. But this is not the point I want to make. The fact that the headline of this article that you are reading right now piqued your interest, it means the headline is catchy enough to make you stop and take the time to peruse through the content.
Catchy headlines can make or break your content.
David Ogilvy, an advertising tycoon and founder of Ogilvy and Mather, and also known as the father of advertising uttered this sage advice:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read
the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent
eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Great headlines give you an edge and convince your audience to read and respond to your copy.
Good headlines will make people click your content. They will also read longer and share even without reading.
As writers, it is our goal to have our work to be consumed by an interested audience who will rave about it to their friends. We can write the most insightful, thought-provoking, earth-shaking articles and yet fail to resonate with a wide audience. Writing the proper and catchy headline is probably the most important part of writing an article and yet it is the most neglected.
The headline is your first point of contact with your audience and you want to make the headline as catchy and as persuasive as possible to lock the attention of your audience and MAKE THEM ACTUALLY READ the content. You want your headline to give a good impression. It’s like meeting someone for the first time and that person gave you a really good impression that you want to spend more time to know more about him or her. The same principle also applies to headline writing.
HOW TO WRITE A GREAT HEADLINE
The American Writers and Artists advocate The Four U’s approach to writing headlines. It is recommended that headlines, subheads and bullets should:
1.) Be USEFUL to the reader.
Strive to create a need for the reader and convince that what you have to offer is something profitable, something that will benefit them. You can also make the readers realize that they have a need that they haven’t given much attention.
Always transform the benefit you offer into a headline. Readers want to satisfy a certain need whether it’s an obvious or a hidden need.
2.) Provide him with a sense of URGENCY.
Be persuasive in your approach that you make them want to take action NOW. Be creative enough to make your audience realize that they cannot afford to delay.
Try to appeal to the readers’ “how-to” instinct. Most people want to improve their life in some way. You can write a headline that tells them they can improve now. Target the end result and the reader’s real motivations.
3.) Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE; and
Try to come across that what you have to offer through the article is something they haven’t seen before or it could be a common subject but addressed in a different angle or perspective.
4.) Do all of the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way.
Be crystal clear and straight forward. If possible, avoid providing long headlines.
Apply KISS – keep it short and simple.
USEFUL-UNIQUE-URGENT-ULTRA SPECIFIC. These should be the basic structure of writing your headline.
WAYS HOW TO CATCH YOUR READER’S ATTENTION
Here are several ways I think can help seize your reader’s attention. But remember to incorporate these ways to your basic structure of headline writing.
1.) Create a knowledge vacuum
Write a headline that leaves your reader wanting more. Make it intriguing for them.
You readers will probably look for more information in the rest of your article.
2.) Solve a problem
Creating a need, addressing a perceived problem or helping the reader realize an unaddressed problem and offering solution will make your reader locked in to your article.
Put yourself in the shoes of the reader and ask yourself: “Why should I read on?”
3.) Use numbers
People love numbers, especially in headlines. Numbers are something we know and feel
comfortable with; they give us a sense of familiarity and advise our brains on how long an
article may take to read. With numbers we can justify the exchange of information for our
time – especially with numbers that describe how many points will be covered.
“10 Ways to cook eggs that your mother never told you about.”
4.) Make a promise
Promise your reader something valuable. Will you teach her how to learn a new skill? Will you persuade her to do something she’s never done before? Will you unlock an ancient mystery?
What you want to do is dare your reader to read the article. Without over-promising, be bold. Be seductive (in the most innocuous way possible, of course).
Be dangerous. And then deliver what you promised.
5.) Use a provocative question
Your goal here is to make the reader answer “YES!”. But make sure the question in
the headline is related directly to your content.
A good example for this one is: “Do you want to be successful in 7 ways?”
6.) Tell your reader what to do
Assume your audience knows nothing about your subject. Instruct them.
Be direct, provide a benefit, and tell your readers what they need to do in a way that’s acceptable for them. Commands make people ask “why”. So you have to command them to do something to get a benefit.
Remember the title of this article? And yet, here you are, about to finish this article. It’s a good thing you did the opposite of what I’ve told you in the beginning. But so far, it has worked.
You can also use these 9 formulas to create awesome headlines.
1.) Who else wants [something]?
– Who else wants to work less and get paid more?
2.) [Number] Secret(s) of [something]
– 10 Secrets to effective time management
3.) Here’s how [somebody] [does something]
– Here’s how women can look younger
4.) [Number] Little known methods [to do something]
– 8 little-known methods to avoid stress
5.) [Number] quick solution (or ways) to [something]
– 5 quick ways to fix your search engine rankings
6.) Now you can have [good thing] and [other good thing]
– Now you can eat more and lose weight
7.) How to do [something] like [world class example]
– How to sing like Robbie Williams
8.) All you need to know about [something]
– Everything you need to know about getting fit
9.) [Number] [superlative] [something]
– 6 Insightful Social Media Video Interviews
In case you’re not yet a writer but contemplating to become one, how about you start your own blog?