As you know, I write headlines on almost a daily basis. If it isn’t to pull traffic for my blog and business in the evening, it’s to generate hype and revenue at my day job for a corporate boutique firm. I’ve been at this for years, and it amazingly never gets easier! That is what marketing is about – there is always a new trend or method to grip onto and learn. Here are a few points on how to write headlines that get results and traffic.
1) Don’t Write with the Concept of Going Viral
As discouraging as this sounds, I can explain! A few years ago, there was a major trend underway, one of those concepts that is HUGE for five days, and then kind of fades away. I decided that riding on this trend during this particular hype would help to launch a campaign I was working on. While it is very clever to hop on the culture bandwagon (preferably earlier than everyone else), you can’t entirely rely on this to convey your message, especially through a headline. After reviewing that campaign a week or so later, I realized that if my audience was not on Twitter, they likely would have no idea what my headline was actually referring to, which was a cringe-worthy feeling. The campaign also performed poorly because I spent more time trying to go viral. Therefore, less characters conveying the who, what, where, and why. Headlines that get results often effectively convey brand recognition and a value to the consumer. Sigh, experience is how we learn I guess!
2) For Every Headline You Require, Write Ten
One tactic that someone passed on to me recently, was to write as many headlines as you can in advance. Nothing is worse than hustling through your day, bounding between calls, deadlines and meetings, and then having to write maximum ten words that pull at people emotionally. Can it be done? Sure, in marketing and public relations, timing is one of the most important factors into doing well. However, it could feel more fun and more organized. I now try to spend one Friday afternoon each month in my office with a favorite drink and a notepad, trying to craft headlines. Sometimes, you’ll get into some weird stuff, but other times, you might be onto something that you would not have captured in a rush. Headlines that get results can take time, and that’s okay!
3) Quantify Everything
One thing that worked surprisingly well in looking back at my stats, was quantifying a value for products. Anything that conveys “Up to X% Off” usually scored well, providing it is actually a decent deal and product! Another goldmine is attaching a quantified time limit on a promotion or campaign. For example Black Friday sales that run for 48 hours only. If you don’t sell anything, another way to use this is to quantify the points you are about to share, like “6 Tactics for a Happier, Healthier New Year”. People love lists because they are easier to quantify in terms of reading time. If I know the post will show me just six points, I can categorize this information as a quick read that I am more likely to click into.
How will you know if you are writing headlines that get results if you are not checking your analytics?! I have provided a resource here, for those who want to integrate analytics for their blog or website here. Surprisingly, one of the most researched articles on this website is one that I did not expect. It didn’t appear as a front-runner, or even in my top ten. It is a few years old, and still racks up those hits! You need headlines that get results, but you also need to review your content, products and what your audience appreciates most from you in order to continue drawing revenue and headlines that get results and recognition.
5) Expect the Unexpected
Just like #1, you cannot write to be viral. At the same time, when you least expect something to perform well, it will. I think that is what makes marketing so exciting and so worth it. There is always evolution, and sometimes, things can be up to chance in terms of performance. Headlines that get results are not always the headlines that we put the most into, or that we expect to succeed. Based on brand values, campaign information, an effective call to action and using analytics to foresee how to build next, we can brilliantly stack headlines that get results. No matter how great or how many years of experience we have, there will always be one or two that leaves us puzzled.
Have anything you want to share? Leave your favorite headline or question in the comments below!