Jun 18, 2018

Optimize Your Blogging: Use These 3 Headline Techniques

By: Josh Dougherty

Content Inbound Marketing

Headlines make or break your content. People won't read your post if the headline doesn't draw them in. I'm not exaggerating. Pay attention next time you're reading the news. You'll see what I mean.

Since our goal is to get your next blog post read, I recommend using one of these three techniques for your next headline.

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1. Ask A Thought-Provoking Question

One of the best ways to draw people in is to ask a thought-provoking question; something that will get your reader to stop and think. Once you have them answering the question in their mind, you've succeeded. They'll click through to the post shortly.

There's a reason that headlines with questions attract attention. Our minds literally can't do anything else but try and answer a question once it's been asked.

David Hoffeld discussed the science behind this in a Fast Company article last year:

"Questions trigger a mental reflex known as 'instinctive elaboration.' When a question is posed, it takes over the brain’s thought process. And when your brain is thinking about the answer to a question, it can’t contemplate anything else."

No wonder one of our top performing blog posts is titled: Why Choose Airbnb?

2. Turn It Into A List

If Buzzfeed has taught us anything, it's that humans love lists. In fact, we can't get enough of them. Here's one of my favorites from this week.

Lists tap into our natural desire to categorize information. Scanning through a list of 20 items in a blog post isn't as daunting as reading 24 paragraphs of prose, even though the post is probably longer. Lists let us know exactly time we're committing to before we dive in. They also make us not want to miss point 24. As a result, we're ready to start reading.

Back in 2013, Maria Konnikova unpacked the research behind our love for lists in the New Yorker:

"In 2011, the psychologists Claude Messner and Michaela Wänke investigated what, if anything, could alleviate the so-called “paradox of choice”—the phenomenon that the more information and options we have, the worse we feel. They concluded that we feel better when the amount of conscious work we have to do in order to process something is reduced; the faster we decide on something, whether it’s what we’re going to eat or what we’re going to read, the happier we become. Within the context of a Web page or Facebook stream, with their many choices, a list is the easy pick, in part because it promises a definite ending: we think we know what we’re in for, and the certainty is both alluring and reassuring. The more we know about something—including precisely how much timeit will consume—the greater the chance we will commit to it. The process is self-reinforcing: we recall with pleasure that we were able to complete the task (of reading the article) instead of leaving it undone and that satisfaction, in turn, makes us more likely to click on lists again—even ones we hate-read."

In case you didn't notice, the headline for this post advertised a list. See, it works!

3. Tell Your Audience What's In It For Them

This one is simple, we all know this as marketers, right? Wrong. I find myself constantly going back to "feature talk" rather than putting myself in my audience's shoes and telling them why my content will change their lives.

Here's a quick example. Would you be interested if you read this headline?

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Some people will click on this headline, but it's going to be a pretty narrow audience. If you rework the headline to highlight the benefit you'll get many more people to click through. Wouldn't you rather read an article with this headline?

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Headlines matter. Newspapers have editors who spend all their time writing them. Copywriters often write 50 before they land on the winner. Using these techniques will dramatically increase the number of people who click through to your next blog post. Why don't you try one out today?

P.S. You know that producing great content isn't just for fun — it's to generate leads for your business. If you want to learn more about how to generate the right leads, check out this free guide here (you don't even have to fill out a form to download it!).

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