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What's in a Name? A Guide to Creating Spectacular Headlines

Robin Chandler
November 7, 2019

From blogs to advertisements to email subject lines, it’s easy to spot a catchy headline. But there’s more to creating great headlines than catchiness. Not only does your need to grab your audience’s attention, it must also draw them in, enticing them to continue reading, make a purchase, or take some other desired action.

But creating the perfect headline can be a challenge. There’s a lot to consider when giving your content a name, like whether the headline will effectively convince your audience that the content is worth their time. If you’re thinking about how the audience will react, you’re already on the right track to creating a great headline. However, there’s still more to it.

Here's what you can do to create spectacular headlines.

Know what headlines perform

Writing great headlines comes from seeing other great headlines. You can find them almost anywhere. Try seeking inspiration from your favorite website or magazine. Think about headlines you’ve seen that made you want to continue reading. If you remember specific headlines that left an impression, consider the techniques the author used to write it.

With so much content floating around online, you probably ignore most of the headlines you see. But some types of headlines tend to be more successful at capturing your attention. Here are four top-performing types of headlines:

If you use a combination of these types of headlines for different content, you’ll be more likely to engage your readers.

Tease the content

The goal is to make the viewer want to learn more about what you have to offer. Whether you’re showcasing an exciting new product, promoting a great sale, or publishing an interesting article, the headline should hint at what’s great about the offer. But it shouldn’t give everything up. You still want the reader to open the email, click the ad, or read the article. If they learn everything they need to know from the headline, why would they need to read further?

Show why the content matters

If your reader sees a headline but doesn’t think the content affects them, they’ll ignore it. This is especially true with ads because visitors tend to simply scroll past them. When you create new content, you should already be focusing on what will appeal to your target audience. You’ve brainstormed what information your readers will need as they make their buying decision. Just like you cater your content to your intended audience, you also have to make sure that your headlines capture their attention and keep them interested. The best way to do this is to highlight how your content benefits the reader.

It’s okay to be clever and cheesy – if that’s the vibe you’re going for

If your content is fun, your headline should be, too. It’s a great opportunity to engage with your audience. Match the tone of your content and your brand. It’s tricky because you may want to write a clever headline, but if that isn’t the way your business normally writes, it won’t fit with the content. A younger audience may find a clever headline more intriguing than one filled with industry jargon and lacking personality, while a formal audience may find a clever headline unprofessional. Any tone can be effective – just remember to stay consistent with your brand and your other content.

Always be creative

Creative headlines are memorable. Being creative doesn’t mean you have to be clever. Even if you’re going for a professional tone, creativity is what sets your business apart from others.

Headlines are the first words your audience sees. So, if the headline doesn’t capture their interest, they probably won’t engage with the content. Headlines can change the way people think about the content they describe. Use a creative headline to offer your audience a new perspective on the topic that motivates them to see what you have to say.

Watch out for wordiness

Although there isn’t an exact number for the prefect character count, the best headlines typically fall between 60 and 100 characters long. That’s enough wiggle room to give the reader an idea of what your content is about without giving away too much. In my high school journalism class, I learned that you should be able to read a headline aloud in one breath. That stuck with me because it’s true; anything longer than that and the reader will probably move on.

With a creative mindset and an understanding of what makes a headline successful, you can consistently create headlines that entertain and inform your audience, motivating them to engage with your content.

Read the Essential Guide to B2B Marketing for Manufacturers

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