According to David Ogilvy – the ‘Father of Advertising’ himself – five times as many people on average read the headlines as read the body of an article. What’s even more surprising is that, in e-mail subject lines, changing just one word has been proven to increase click-throughs by almost 50%.
With so much being dependent upon having an enticing title, we have devised a handy little guide to make your headline stand out from the crowd. But the number 1 question you should be asking yourself is: would this make me want to read on?
By all means, publish a well-written list of ways you can create an attention-grabbing headline (see what we did there?), but never say ‘things’. Use a more interesting word like ‘reasons’, ‘ways’, ‘lessons’ or ‘secrets’ to imply that a reader will actually learn something useful from your article. If they won’t, then there isn’t much point in them wasting their time.
If it is not super-clear what an article is about, it’s unlikely that it will entice readers. For example, would you be more likely to read an article titled ‘being healthy’, or the more specific ‘6 fascinating ways that tomatoes are proven to boost your immune system’? If your answer is the latter, then you’re on the right lines.
At the same time as being intriguing, you need to remain realistic. An article will never appear reliable if the headline makes far-fetched claims, such as ‘Twitter users will always live 20 years longer than non-users’. It may be interesting, but it delegitimises the content of the entire article. In order to stay accurate, you may want to add brackets to your headlines, for example, ‘How to bathe your cat correctly [infographic]’. A study from HubSpot of 3.3 million paid link headlines found that headlines with this sort of clarification – [interview], [podcast], or [infographic] – performed 38% better than headlines without clarification.
Use your imagination. Alliterate. Rhyme. Use the rule of three. You can have a play with most techniques to ensure your headline stands out. You could use interesting adjectives to describe your lists; what about ‘effortless’ or ‘essential’? Be original and don’t always select the first idea you conjure up.
There’s a reason why so many magazines use numbers in their front-page stories: it’s because it works! It depends on your topic for how many points you use, but most people are best at remembering between three and five of them. Just remember not to say ‘things’!
Keep it short
It is also worth considering how search-engine friendly the heading is. If this is a priority, try to keep the title under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.
Are there any tips we’ve missed for creating an attention-grabbing headline? What are some of the best headlines that you’ve seen recently? Tweet us at @NeoPRLtd.