Sunday, 20 October 2013

Three secrets of a great headline

See what I did there?

I told you I was going to let you in on some secrets — and here you are! 

The heading enticed you to click the link and read this. It has done what every well-written headline should do.

In the digital world, headlines are more important than ever. On an e-newsletter, for example, where you don't have the full article to skim over, the subject line may be the only text you have to persuade your reader to read on.

Secret #1 — Make it snappy

Put yourself in the position of your readers.

Imagine their email inboxes, brimming with new mail. Think of all those subject lines, all competing for their attention.

Imagine their Twitter feed, chock full of links to articles of interest.  All posted and recommended by the interesting people they choose to follow.

They only have limited time to read these things. The articles they don't choose to read will most likely be ignored or consigned to the bin — and you don't want your article to be one of those — so you have to be smart.

Your heading should be short, punchy and to the point. It should tell your readers exactly what to expect in return for their precious time.

Secret #2 — Push your readers' buttons

A good headline tells us what we can expect to read. A great headline also tells us why we should read it.

To show you what I mean, here are four examples of headlines and a brief explanation of how they work to influence the reader.

10 Social Networking Personalities: Which One Are You?
This headline tells us exactly what the article is about, then asks us a question. Adding the question involves and engages us. It tells us that if we read the article we might learn something about ourselves.

Three ways to attract more Twitter followers
Most people on Twitter want to attract more followers, so the premise of this article is instantly appealing. Plus, a to-do list with only three things on it sounds achievable.

Why your website isn't working for you
Anyone who has invested time and money to produce a website wants it to work. If you suggest that my website isn't working as well as it could, it will make me want to find out why.

Email marketing: The new technique everyone is talking about
This headline works on the principle that nobody likes to feel left out. It promises both new information and a sense of inclusion.

Secret #3 — Back it up

This secret is by far the most important. There is no point crafting the perfect heading if you don't have the goods to back it up.

You must make sure your article fulfils what your headline promises and answers any questions it poses. If you do, your article will be a success and you will win the trust and respect of your readers

If you don't, your article will be a disappointment and your credibility could be called into question.

TIP: It often helps to write your headline first — before you write the rest of the article. Having the headline in place will keep you, and your writing, focused on the end goal.

Do you need a great article for your blog or email newsletter?

I am an experienced and qualified freelance copywriter who has written articles on a wide variety of subjects. 

If you need some help with a forthcoming copywriting project, why not visit my website or get in touch.

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