Headlines are the first thing your reader sees. Write a good one, and he’ll read the rest of your message. Write a bad one, and he’s gone in less than a heartbeat.
Before I write an article or blog post or email or anything, really, I always start with a headline.
Sometimes I’ll even write ten headlines before settling on the right one to guide my content.
It may seem counter-intuitive to start this way, but I find it’s the best way to stay focused on my message without letting stray thoughts and ideas detract from what I want my readers to know.
There are plenty of ways to write headlines that grab your readers’ attention, but I’ve found the most success using the tips outlined below:
1. Begin with the word “This.”
This One Thing is the Secret to Great Content
This Diet Could Save Your Life
This Phrase is Destroying Your Business
The word “this” a great attention-grabber. And when you couple the word “this” with a descriptive yet somewhat cryptic statement, it creates that oh-so-important curiosity factor to entices your reader to keep reading.
2. Begin with the words “How to. . .”
How to Cold Call New Clients
How to Change a Tire
How to Make Money by Working Less
If you check out the top charts of Google trends, you’ll notice that people tend to Google questions that start with “How to. . .”
How to fray jeans? How to upgrade to Windows 10? How to crate train your puppy?
If your content describes how to do something, if it answers a question your readers have, then by all means, use that question as the headline!
3. Begin with a number.
Six Steps to a Slimmer Waistline
Four Ways to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill
Eighteen Things You’re Doing Right Now to Sabotage Your Success
Take a look at the headlines above and imagine if they lacked a number in the front.
Steps to a Slimmer Waistline
Ways to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill
Things You’re Doing Right Now to Sabotage Your Success
Kind of lackluster, right? Adding a number makes them far more powerful and enticing to your reader. Plus, it helps you organize your content. Sometimes I’ll begin my headline with an X in place of the number and then just fill it in when I’ve finished writing, e.g., X Ways to Make a Mean Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
Notice that the headline of this article starts with a number. I could also have gone with “How to Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines” or even combined a how-to headline with a number headline and used “How to Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines in Five Easy Ways.” Though it just seemed a little too wordy to me.
4. Begin with the words “Finally!” or “At last!”
Finally—A Guaranteed Way to Increase Email Open Rates!
At last! The Video Game Every Gamer Has Been Waiting For!
Finally! The Secret to Fewer Wrinkles is Revealed!
These terms address an unspoken frustration associated with waiting for something to be invented, shared, or released. We all hate waiting for stuff, right? The words “finally” and “at last” imply that we’ve been waiting FOR.EV.ER. for something and at long last, it’s finally here and oh I just can’t wait to read what it is!
5. Address a specific group.
Attention Homeowners: One Call Can Lower Your Mortgage Rates
Fitness Fanatics Everywhere Are Raving About This New Invention
Single Moms Wish You’d Stop Asking This Question
This one is about knowing who your audience is. Ask yourself who you’re talking to and WHY should they care. Jot down the different groups your customers belong to. Homeowners. Business owners. Entrepreneurs. Stay-at-home moms. Pet owners. Cigar lovers. Next, jot down what their problem is.
Now combine those two elements into a winning headline.
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