Grab customers’ attention by writing better headlines

If you are reading this sentence, my headline has done what it’s suppose to do — appealing to your (the reader’s) self-interests and drawing you (a current or potential customer) into this post.

Of course, for those people who are not reading this, my headline failed to get their attention, and this post will join the billions of other online content marketing articles that have gone unnoticed.

While I’m sure all of those under performing articles hold some amazing advice and insight, without a compelling headline, they never had a chance.

Don’t let your articles, blog posts, press releases, direct mailers, emails, newsletters and/or literature go unread again: Writing more thoughtful headlines will help create more informed readers and drive them to take action.

Why your headline matters

With so much content available on a whole range of media platforms (print, digital, broadcast, etc.), there is plenty of competition vying for your customers’ attention. Creating content and getting it published today is cheap and easy. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. For example, every single one of us is guilty of clicking on the fake (garbage) news article that clutter news sites and social media platforms. These “click-bait” professionals are stealing your customers’ time with promising headlines.

Even if the content is uninteresting or not relevant, they have successfully stolen the reader’s mindshare from you. Those organizations are your competition, and in order to get people to read your quality content, you need to appeal to their interests with even better headlines. 

The marketing and PR measurement landscape has changed. Getting your message published is no longer the way to judge your marketing efforts, now it needs to focus on readership — who’s reading what you wrote. 

Here’s where to start

Tell the reader what your content is about and avoid the cute short headlines that tease readers but don’t really explain anything. To accomplish that, you’re going to have to overcome the common fear/belief of using too many words in a headline.

For example, since we’ve (Signature Style PR) made the switch to longer more descriptive headlines, our blog has had 3x more visitors weekly. We’ve achieved those results by making it easier for readers to understand what we’re writing about before they decide whether to click on a link.

Match the headline to type of content and medium

In order for your content to get published and read, you need to use an appropriate style of headline for the type of content you’re writing. Headlines should be written in a style that matches the medium. For example:

  • If you’re writing for trade magazines, try to match the editorial staff’s style
  • When you’re writing for a custom newsletter, play up your customers, products, and staff – have some fun with it
  • For the internet, you need to think about what phrases people are typing into the search engine. Try to incorporate those keywords into your headlines

Here are a few tips for you to try:

  • A press release headline should always address the who and what
  • Email headings/subject lines need to focus on reader benefits without using spammy words
  • Article headlines can be a little cuter but should have a supporting subhead that provides a deeper overview of what’s in the article

You get the idea.

If you’re not sure what style is the right one to use, do some research by exploring examples that catch your attention.

Don’t overlook subheads and content structure

Using subhead throughout your content will help break up the flow of a piece and will make for better subject transitions.

Using generic subheads may turn readers away. Most people will decide if they are going to read something by reviewing the headline and skimming the subheads for additional details before they dig into the article’s full content structure or flow of the piece.

Do you want help with your content?

If you’ve made it this far, my headline, subheads and content structure have done their jobs. And hopefully, you have a few nuggets of useful information to try out on your next marketing communications effort. 

If you need some help or just want to chat, Amber and I would love to hear from you. You will find our email addresses and phone numbers on our “Contact Us” page.