Write better headlines.
That’s no big relevation, and there’s a lot that goes into writing better headlines. I’ll refer you to someone like @Copyblogger who has written a great series on writing better headlines.
But there’s one area I wanted to focus on when it comes to headlines. I share a lot of links on Twitter because I am trying to find helpful information for my followers. Therefore, I read a LOT of blog posts from my feed reader. And honestly, a lot of time I am simply scanning the post very quickly to determine if the content could be useful for others.
One source that consistently provides excellent content is EMarketer. But EMarketer often ‘buries the lead’ when it comes to writing their headlines. The key facts or figures are often overlooked when it comes to their headlines.
Case in point, this morning I shared a link to a recent blog post the site wrote, titled “What are the benefits of email-social media integration?“. But here is what I tweeted: “54% of email marketers say adding social media improved their efforts according to @emarketer”.
Which title would you be more likely to click on:
1 – “What are the benefits of email-social media integration?”
2 – “54% of email marketers say adding social media improved their efforts”
And that post also included this graph:
Just looking at that graph, think of some of the headlines you could create for that post. Here’s a couple I can see:
“Facebook tops all other forms of social media for email marketing, new study finds”
“Over 70% of email marketers are using Facebook and Twitter”
“71% of email marketers use Twitter, only 10% say it provides best results”
What else do you see?
The point is, make sure you are hitting on the key takeaway from the post, in your headline. What too many bloggers do (and I am guilty of this as well sometimes) is we simply summarize the post, in a few words. In 4 years, this is the most popular post I have ever written at The Viral Garden. The post is about the importance of building a community around your blogging efforts, and how that can improve the quality of the content you create there. I had the post nailed, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted the headline to be for the life of me. I could only come up with a bland one, “Why building community is important for your blog”. I realized that this title completely SUCKED. I loved the post, but the headline was horrible. I was even considering scrapping the post completely, then I decided on this headline for the post:
“The idea that ‘content is king’ in blogging is total bullshit”.
And there you go. No punches pulled, that title tells you EXACTLY what you can expect. And as a result, this post got HUNDREDS of RTs, simply because the headline grabbed your attention and made you WANT to read it. Because if you read that headline, you probably think “Amen!” or “Wait, that’s not right!”. So it’s straight, to the point, and polarizing.
But the key is, it isn’t boring. Think about this when you are writing your post headlines. Your post title is going to be competing with a TON of other content. You only have a few seconds to sell your post, and you do that with the title.
Does this work for you? If you are active on Twitter and promoting your content there or on LinkedIn or Facebook, you MUST improve your headline writing. You’ll get far more clicks and RTs, which will get you more referral traffic, and will help you expand your networks on those sites.
UPDATE: We discussed testing different titles as you tweet links to your posts on Twitter, and DJ Waldow made a great point: “Mack – You mention this in one of the comments, but not in the actual blog post: Test. I think that is critical. What may be a good/better headline for you doesn’t necessarily work for your followers, right? Again – I know you agree with this point, but thought it may be worth touching on in the actual post as some folks may not read the comments. It’s the same advice we give in writing subject lines for email marketing. Often – surprisingly – the “boring” subject lines get the most opens/clicks/conversions.”