Almost every business on earth is engaging in some forms of content marketing. Blogging is the most common tool among B2B marketers. Regardless of your audience, producing quality content has become the slogan of every digital marketer, SEO and CMO.
However, not many marketers focus on headlines. No matter what goals you have for your content marketing, you need to be able to write headlines that get clicked. If your headline or title isn’t good enough, your content is irrelevant.
The ultimate goal of every marketer is to make your customers take action, and clicks are the best insight into what drives people to action. Always focus on clicks before conversions.
But don’t try to trick your readers into clicking. Tell a story in the headline, but leave enough out so that your reader is still intrigued by what they are going to click on.
Table of Content
- 1 How Buzzfeed Headlines Generate the Most Number of Social Shares
- 2 The Science behind Viral Headlines
- 3 Top 6 Types of Headline that Get Clicks
- 4 Top 7 Tools for Testing Titles
Buzzfeed headlines always intrigue people to click /share. How do they do it? Here is a breakdown of their 3 word phrases with most Facebook shares.
The Science behind Viral Headlines
An online viral news publisher Upworthy has earned a reputation for engineering “curiosity gap” headlines that contain the right balance of information and intrigue.
Their headlines are wildly effective. Each of their article generated about 75k Facebook likes.
A big reason behind their ultra-success headlines is the “information-gap” theory. When there’s a situation that provides a gap in our knowledge (aka, the headline), we feel an urge to fill this gap and ease our curiosity by clicking on the article.
According to Loewenstein from Psychological Bulletin “The curious individuals is motivated to obtain the missing information to reduce or eliminate the feeling of deprivation.”
In their book “Made to Stick”, the Heath brothers writes that good news editor or writers may spend up to 80% of their time writing the title and then leave the rest of time on the body of the content.
Tell the story in the headline.
Descriptive headlines usually work better than clever ones, especially for business posts. Readers will know exactly what they are getting when they click through. Here are the 6 principles they outline in the book:
Also, as a SEO marketer myself, I also do keyword research using tools like Google Trends and Keyword Planner to write clickable headlines that drive long-tail traffic from organic as well.
Top 6 Types of Headline that Get Clicks
1. Identify and Solve a Problem or Ask a Question
Frame your post title as a question to make it more intriguing. Example like “What does Facebook’s Newsfeed Algorithm Update Mean for Marketers?”
2. Make a Statement
A direct statement is the most effective way to engage your reader. Always state clear topic so that your readers know what they are getting.
3. Strike a Note of Controversy
Content with controversial titles grab more attention and more clicks.
4. Headlines that Offer Explanations
Explanatory headlines make things instantly clear to readers by doing exactly what the name suggests. When you turn your news into explanations, your audience knows exactly what they’re getting into before they ever start reading.
5. Exclusiveness / Comprehensive / Ultimate
Headlines that hint at the chance to access new or exclusive information, using words like “reveal” or “study shows” with surprising results/trends.
6. Top List
Make your content into a list of points that covers the topic.
If you have problem coming up with good headlines, Coschedule has a Headline Analyzer tool that can help you with writing effective headlines.
Top 7 Tools for Testing Titles
Adam Mordecai of Upworthy writes 25 headlines for every post, and then A/B test them to find the most effective one. You don’t have to write 25 headlines, but always test a couple to find the most effective one for your audience.
Here are some tools that you can use to test your headlines.
I am a big fan of Optimizely A/B testing software. It’s not only great for testing headlines and copy, it’s also great to test user experience on your site. Depending on your traffic, it can get expensive.
Use your email list to A/B test your favorite headlines. I usually test two headlines, send headline A to 10% of my list, and headline B to another 10%, use the wining headline for the rest of the list.
This is a great social sharing tool. You are able to share your article using different headlines. I have not had the opportunity to use it, but I hear good things about the tool.
you can post different headlines using geotarget. Create a bitly link of your two headlines. Then share each version using geotarget. You can track using bitly statistics on how many clicks you had on each headline. Another way to test on Facebook is to use Facebook Ads. Create an Ad set, then two ads with the same article but different headlines, see which ad gets the most clicks.
there is a WordPress plugin that allows you to split test two headlines for blog posts. They are randomly shown until one headline wins.
Check out sites like Reddit, Imgur, Buzzfeed, and Upworthy to see the common trends and elements in their titles and incorporate them into your own blog post titles. Always remember to split test your titles to find the best one to use.