A Simple Headline Writing Tip That Gets More Readers

numeral types

Image by threedots via Flickr

Want to hear a hot headline writing tip? This headline secret has been used since the days of Claude Hopkins to get readers to stop and take notice.

It’s really easy too. And, it doesn’t involve using words either.

Instead of words, you focus on numbers. I know, they’re annoying, but they do get people to stop and look.

Try these headlines on for size:

“8 Habits of Highly Effective Copywriters”

“How to Write a Blog Post in 15 Minutes”

“Increase Your Blog Subscription Rate by 153%”

“103 Ways to Get Top Bloggers to Link to You” or even,

15 Marketing Terms You Need to Know

What do these headlines all have in common? They have numbers in them.

Why numbers work

Numbers work because they force us to focus – and because they give us a finite, concrete sounding example of something; only 15 minutes to write a great post, or 103 ways to get noticed by blogging superstars.  The more specific the number, the better.  For example, if you increased your subscription rate by 153%, don’t round it down to 150%, the “odd’ number looks more realistic.

Lists and checklists

Lists (ultimate guide to facebook, 101 copywriting secrets) promise lots of information, in an easy-to-digest and follow format.  Just go through the list and you’ve accomplished something big.  You’re now a better writer, a twitter guru, or irresistible to reporters.
And, who can resist something that will make you irresistible?


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Friday Fun: End of Year Holiday Party

Champagne and pate on Thanksgiving.

Image via Wikipedia

Get our your champagne glasses and your funny hats.  It’s time for the end of year holiday party.  Last year, I had a roundup of posts by topic. Here’s the list:

Ways to Market Your Business on a Small Budget

What Every Marketer Ought to Know in the New Year

Creative Ways to Write Great Headlines

Get More From Your Email Marketing/

Do You Make These Common Marketing Mistakes?

This year, I’m going to do something different. A countdown of my five best posts (ever). Stay tuned for number five on Monday, counting down to number one next Friday. (Hey, why should Casey Kasem – sorry Ryan Seacrest doesn’t count) have all the fun?

Meanwhile, happy, merry, and joyful to all of you.


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Top 10 Most Popular Posts. Ever.

Trophy
Image via Wikipedia

Here they are.  They certainly are a varied bunch (everything from fishing to sins to target practice, well sort of).

What Every Marketer Can Learn From Fishermen

Are You Reading These Blogs?

102 Great Headlines

Announcing a Painless Way to Stretch Your Marketing Dollars

A Marketing Mistake You Should Never Make

Is Your Marketing Missing Its Target?

Secrets of Successful Email Newsletters

What a Giant Squid Can Teach the New York Times About Publishing

How to Write Headlines Your Readers Can’t Resist

7 Deadly Web Copy Mistakes

Actually, this gives me an idea.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post (your input needed).

OOPS:  Thought I posted this hours ago.  Apparently I never hit publish!


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What’s Wrong with These Headlines?

Toppling of Saddam - newspapers

newspapers by Dan Brady via Flickr

Do you know one of the most important headline writing rules?

Here are some random headlines I took from Google News this morning:

Hunter Mahan wins Bridgestone Invitational with final-round 64

 

Rwandan president expected to win election handily

 

In the Gulf, scientific questions still lurk beneath the surface

 

The Other Guys’ Captures Audiences at Weekend Box Office

Any idea what’s wrong?

There’s a common thread in each of these headlines.  Every one of them has broken the first rule of writing headlines.

If you don’t know, the primary function of a headline is to arouse interest, entice the reader… and encourage them to keep reading.

Each of these headline writers has failed that test.  They’ve given the entire story away in the headline.  There’s no reason to click on the link or read more. Anyone seeing the headline already knows what happened, without bothering to read the entire article.

Why headlines matter

The purpose of a headline is to start you thinking or wondering. A good headline is the flag that waves down passers-by and says, “pay attention, you’ll want to know more about this.”

Five times as many people read the headline as the body copy. Five times. A bad headline equals poor readership and poor results. A story with headlines like these will get fewer clicks. That also means fewer ad impressions, fewer readers, and fewer potential subscribers or buyers.

Before you write a headline for your ad, or your blog post, think about whether you’re giving the whole story away.

 

 


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Tips for Great Headlines Without Writing

magazine stand imageWriting headlines is hard.  You know (cause I’ve gone on and on about it) that the headline is what gets attention.  Write a bad headline, nobody reads your article.

Give everything away in the headline and there’s no need to read further.

But a good headline, well that can make a big difference.  Your readers become charged up, excited, curious, and suddenly alert.

They’re interested and they want to read more!

But sometimes  your brain is just stuck on neutral.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.

Luckily, there are some tips you can use to write a great headline with very little work.

Have Google do it

Search for your topic and check out the sponsored links and ads.   This tells you if there are a lot of other pages and posts on the topic and if it’s worth pursuing further.

Then, use Google’s keyword tool to see how many searches are made with those words.

Use a headline tool

Try the linkbait generator.  Type in a topic and get a catchy headline.

Fill in the blanks

(OK, this requires some writing, but very little)

Who Else Wants to _______?

Little Known Ways to ________

Get Rid of [Problem] Once and For All

The Lazy [Bloggers/Writer’s/Designer’s] Way to [Better Posts/Write Faster/Get More Clients]

_____ That Wow

There! You’ve just written a week’s worth of headlines without writing very much.

On Monday, why these headlines work.

Image thanks to Mannoobhai

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