Write effective headlines
1. Clarify what effective means to you. Pick a goal and a metric to measure on the content for which you're writing headlines.
For example, if your goal is to increase social media engagement, an effective headline would lead to increased comments, shares, and likes on your social media channels. Example goals: To rank higher on search engines. To drive website traffic from other communication channels like email or social media. To share informational content for the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.
2. Define the target audience by analyzing buyer persona and demographic data.
For example, if your headline is for an email newsletter, look at your email list demographics and buyer persona research. Consider the age, gender, roles, interests, motivations, and pain points of subscribers.
3. Turn a topic into a working title that guides the structure of the content.
For example, the broad topic of vegan diet can be expanded upon under different working titles: 5 Vegan Recipes to Try This Winter Why College Students Are Making the Switch to Veganism The Complete Guide to Getting Enough Protein from Plants.
4. Choose a headline that demonstrates value and fits your target audience's preferences.
If your audience prefers straightforward headlines that clearly provide an answer to a question, craft a concise headline without excess adjectives. Think about whom the headline is targeting, as well. Your email newsletter audience may prefer Ultimate Guide headlines, while your Facebook audience may prefer more sensationalized headlines. Example headlines: How-to: How to Grow Your Email Subscription in 2 Weeks Question: Film vs. Digital: Which Is Better? Reasons why: 3 Reasons Why Cats Are the Best Newsy: An Exclusive First Look at Product 2.0 Guide: The Easy Guide to Filing Your Own Taxes
5. Include action words, descriptive language, numbers, or a benefit to spark curiosity.
Headlines should appeal to the emotions and deliver a promise of value in the content. Headline examples: Action word: Use These Tips to Make Your Grass Grow Faster Descriptive language that appeals to the emotions: Follow This Advice and You’ll Have the Luscious Lips You’ve Always Wanted Specific number: 6 Ways That Pilates Will Change Your Life Included benefit: Follow These Instagram Tips to Get More Followers or How to Write a Blog Post That Converts
6. Choose a headline length based on the best practices of the channel.
Ideal headline length per communication channel: Twitter: around 120 characters, according to HubSpot. Blog post on your website: under 60 characters and around 8 words, according to HubSpot. Email headline: around 9 words and under 60 characters, according to Mailchimp. Facebook: around 15 words, according to Orbit Media. These headline lengths aren’t universal for all audiences and industries, so A/B test your headline length for best results.
7. Optimize for search engines by including a keyword near the beginning of the headline.
It’s best to prioritize a well-written headline over a keyword-stuffed headline, but putting a keyword near the beginning is beneficial for SEO.
8. Write a few variations of the headline by changing the phrasing, length, or keyword location.
For example, you can turn Ways to Make Your Mom Happy This Mother’s Day into: 5 Ways to Make Your Mom Happy This Mother’s Day How to Make Your Mom Happy This Mother’s Day Mother’s Day Is a Week Away: Ways to Make Your Mom Extra Happy
9. Have colleagues in customer-facing teams, such as sales and marketing, review headlines.
Have fresh eyes look over your headlines and get feedback. Tell your teams who the audience is and which channel the content is headed to. When proofreading, make sure your capitalization is consistent with title or sentence case. Use Capitalize My Title to check.