If you are writing lackluster headlines, you are wasting your time developing marketing content that will never be read.
Too often, the headline is a mere afterthought, which is a colossal misstep. Copyblogger reports that eight of 10 people seeing your headline will read it, but only two out of 10 will read the accompanying article -- and that's only if your headline is compelling.
Research conducted by KISSmetrics indicates the perfect length for a headline is six words or less, as people have a tendency to scan the first three and last three words.
So what goes into the construction of a truly persuasive headline? Try these six proven strategies for writing compelling headlines that will leave your readers wanting more.
Shocking: Readers love novelty. Surprising headlines activate the pleasure centers in our brains much more so than seeing content we already know, as subconsciously we prefer the unpredictable to the known. Example: "Surprising facts about your home security risks."
Curiosity: Piquing a reader's interest by asking a question can be a persuasive headline strategy, given the right question. Simply seeing a question mark springs your brain into action thinking about your answer. Target questions you feel confident your audience will empathize with or want to see answered.
Reader Centric: Our brains are wired to solve problems. When a writer presents a headline that seems to speak to us and the unique problems we face, our brains essentially say, "that's meant for me" and we tune in. Example: "For people who are prone to running injuries, but love to run."
Negatives: Perhaps because they're unexpected or because they trigger reader insecurities, negative headlines generally outperform their positive counterparts significantly, like it or not. Example: "Avoid these five foods to improve energy."
By the Numbers: As consumers of content, we like it when content is neatly packaged into numbered lists. In fact, a CoSchedule study analyzed more than 1 million blog post headlines, and reported that numbered list posts outperformed any other type of headline by nearly double.
How To: We are inundated daily with entirely too many tasks, too many priorities, too much information, and not enough time for any of it. So, if you offer a headline that tells your readers how to gain control of their lives and make better sense of things, you're likely to drive strong readership.
The bottom line is that headlines matter more than you would think. If you are going to the trouble to write content, spend at least half the amount of time you allocated to writing the piece to developing an attention-grabbing, persuasive headline. It's an investment that can pay big dividends.
Find more advice at www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).