“Extra, Extra, Read all about it.” Many will remember hearing such words in a classic movie, where some major, attention-grabbing headline was riveting the focus of the entire civilized world. Indeed, there are no words more critical in your content than your headlines. These phrases have the potential to powerfully pull in an audience—with the end result that your articles and blogs have a much better chance of getting read! Well-crafted headlines are also a key to distribution via social media sharing and syndication. Let’s examine a few aspects of headline power.
First of all, with modern tools, you initially don’t have to be locked into just one headline. You can run an experiment to directly ascertain which competing headline actually gets better results. This is sometimes known as A/B testing. The gist of it is to randomly segment your audience and have two different headlines appear. Some viewers see one, others see the alternate. Your audience itself will show you which headline is more effective in terms of initial clicks and further page views.
Some enterprises find success by utilizing headlines that drive a greater level of curiosity. At times this can go to what some would consider an extreme level, with particular sites well-known for superlatives and even sensationalism. While this may be effective for some genres of content, in other cases this extreme curiosity tactic may need to be significantly moderated for your particular niche. Always keep a firm focus on the content marketing goals for your brand. Which headlines will help it to continue to build influence and bring about meaningful engagement and desired actions?
Remember, with your audience it is quality over quantity. It is one thing to have a huge viewership, but if they are largely lacking passion and engagement with your business, your results will be far less than optimal. It is a quality audience that will help you to grow your business. If your headlines spur viewers to open an email, but they then feel deceived by the headline, you have just lost momentum.
That being said, curiosity does have its proper place in your headlines and content marketing. Successful content marketing requires the audience to travel on a voyage with an enterprise, one that usually gradually unfolds. But if all your information and punch line is spilled right at the outset, then who is going to stick around long enough to become deeply engaged in the full story of your brand? Such an approach would be similar to a movie whereby the basic plot was given away in the first few minutes. How many viewers would remain engaged or even stay for the whole story? So use your headlines to perk a healthy level of curiosity, and then gradually unveil the story of your brand to your increasingly engaged viewers!
Kelly Walker is creative director for Intrepid Marketing, a leading Bend, Oregon marketing agency. For more information, contact Kelly at 541-419-9976 or Kelly@intrepidforward.com