When was the last time you saw a headline that you couldn’t possibly resist? A headline that spoke to you in such a way that it would have caused you physical pain if you hadn’t clicked it?
Some headlines are so good that we succumb to their promises without resistance. They trigger something deep within us that we cannot explain. Only one thing is clear: if we don’t click on it, the day is over. Completely in the bucket.
A good headline can multiply your traffic. And I want to be honest: The headline turns the viewer into a visitor. But I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new when I say that the content should keep what the headline whispers in the brain of the target group in a sweet voice. Otherwise the bounce rate on your blog or website will rise faster than you would like.
The headline is often the first contact with you and your product. In many contexts it is the only chance to make a good and effective impression. It has to fit like a tailored suit.
Hubspot Inc., together with Outbrain, has analyzed over 3.3 million headlines. Exciting things were brought to light. Even if the results are based on headlines in English, they tell us a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
A distinction was made between different headline goals. On the one hand, the click-through rate (CTR) was looked at and, on the other hand, engagement and conversions.
Read about the basics of SEO here:
The use of certain words, formulations and standards increases the click rate significantly. Here are three CTR boosters that Hubspot has clearly identified as effective:
- The word “photo” together with “the”. As in: “Amazing Photos of People Who Have No Fashion Sense”.
- More precise provisions in brackets that further specify the content advertised by the headline. For example [Infographic].
- Headlines with a length of 81 to 100 characters.
CTR & engagement brakes
Much of what is often used in headlines makes them real CTR brakes. I admit that even I was surprised to find some of them among those who branded Hubspot and Outbrain as counterproductive. An overview of CTR & Engagement brakes:
- The words or formulations “easy”, “how to”, “credit”, “cure”, “magical”, “free”, “easy”, “tip”, “trick”, “amazing” and “secret”.
- Positive superlatives like “best” and “always”.
What happens after the headline is clicked? Does the visitor stay on the page? Is he doing what we want him to do there? These tips will help you get more involved:
- More precise terms of the content used in the headline, such as [Infographic].
- The use of the words “incredible” and / or “photo” in the headline.
Ultimately, what interests you will be the conversion. A purchase, subscription, rating, or comment. The likelihood of this increases with these measures:
- More precise definitions of the content used in the headline, such as [Infographic]
- The use of the words “need” or “want”.
The use of the word “trick” is suspected of reducing the conversion rate. So you are well advised to avoid this.
How to tickle the mind of the beholder so that he becomes a reader
The overall headline has to fit so that it can be clicked, interacted and converted. In addition to the correct words, it must contain a trigger that “forces” the viewer to click. This works best when the headline triggers something that the person in his role as a slave to his own instincts cannot escape. This turns the headline into the famous big red button. You just have to push it. Can you learn these principles? What are the principles behind an effective headline? Be responsible, however, with the power they give you. It tends to slip away from many content marketers. The dark side is just too tempting.
“7 Incredible Headline Strategies You Need to Make Content Really Effective”. Admit it: the number gave you security. For example, the certainty that you won’t find an article that takes hours to read. Perhaps you did not expect my explanations on basic principles after reading the headline. Maybe that has an impact on your mood. Why? We always experience time in the context that was conveyed to us. If we expect it to be quick and take a long time, then we forget our good upbringing and become impatient. Maybe even angry. Am I right?
If we see a question mark, the machine rattles between our ears without us being able to do anything about it. If the question deals with a topic that we feel close to emotionally or in terms of content, or if we would like to see it answered, it will work. A good question headline, for example, makes us want to answer the question for ourselves first and then want to know how our answer compares to everyone else’s.
To be surprised is great. It was great when we were kids and it is great when we grow up. People love surprises. So it’s a good idea to use them as a stylistic device for our headlines. Headlines that surprise attract the attention of the target group. They stand out from all other headlines. In doing so, they lay the foundation to turn this hard-earned attention into a click.
Curiosity is closely linked to surprise. In order to satisfy them, we do things that are sometimes difficult to explain. The construct that helps us here is called the “curiosity gap”. We want to close this gap between what we know and what we want to know or think we need to know. Sometimes it cost what it may – and more. By the way, this works well not only with headlines. We can also ensure that an article is read to the end in this way. Simply by delaying the solution for as long as possible. The Curiosity Gap is also a wonderful tool to design email subjects in such a way that an email is read.
5. Reversing the positive
Negative superlatives sometimes work better than positive ones. In a study by Outbrain it was found that negative superlatives (“Never” or “Worst”) in headlines have up to 63% higher CTR than positive ones (“Always” or “Best”). Why is that? One possible explanation is the inflationary use of positive superlatives. Another is a lack of confidence in the full-bodied promise of positive superlatives. Negativity could be equated with authenticity. Authenticity is what we want to achieve.
6. How to …
An article that tells us the background to a topic is interesting at best. Maybe it’s even amusing. We must draw the conclusions from this ourselves. How we implement the newly gained knowledge is entirely our problem. If a title promises us that it explains concrete and, at best, immediately implementable steps to achieve a certain goal, we are immediately aware of it. People strive for reliability and order. If someone tells us what to do, we’ll be there. The words “how to” – the famous “how to” – are a safe bet. They work reliably. Nevertheless, headlines for instructions can always be made a little better. By telling the reader more concretely what he will actually get and how, you create headlines that hardly anyone can resist.
7. Direct approach
Direct addressing is easy to explain: address your reader directly with your headline. Use the words “you” or imply by writing “10 amazing email strategies for entrepreneurs who are dissatisfied with their marketing and want to improve it.” Your target audience is likely thinking, “Hey, that’s me! “. So if you have correctly linked the problem and target group thematically, a click is almost guaranteed. Everyone wants to solve their problems. No matter how small they may be.
I wrote it at the beginning: the headline of your article is your first and often last chance to make an impression. Keep this in mind as you design it. Think of it as insurance for your content. Why? All the work that went into your content was in vain if the headline didn’t work. It is really that easy.
So protect your work against low click rates. Write a good headline.
The following video by Neil Patel explains in detail what a perfect headline is: