9 Strategies for Writing Powerful Headlines That Convert
If writing headlines gives you a headache, try our 9 strategies for writing powerful headlines that convert.
With tips for writing headlines, you will learn how to attract the
attention: of the target audience, and you will understand how small changes
affect the effectiveness and success of the headline.
If, after several written headline versions, you haven't found one that sounds good enough, don't publish your blog post with a bad title.
You probably see a large number of marketing messages during the day. These messages get conversions by getting your attention. The first thing you see is their title.
The title is an impulse that will interest readers and potential customers to continue reading. Titles sell newspapers, books, and magazines. Whether it's a blog post, a video, or an ad - any content you create requires you to focus on the title.
Because 80% of people pay attention and read the title first, so chances are high that most visitors to your site will read only the headline. Besides, you also want them to read the first sentence, the content, or your goal is to send them to the landing page.
The purpose of the title is to help you achieve your goal - for the reader to read the first sentence and then the rest of the content. The easiest way to achieve all this and increase your conversion rate is to adjust your headline text.
That's why good copywriters spend more than half of their time on the title.
Only eight out of ten readers read the headline, and only two out of ten readers read the entire text, as pointed out by a Copyblogger study.
So how do you come up with headlines that convert?
Knowing your audience is essential to writing a powerful headline. That's the only way you can highlight the benefit for them, point out the problem that bothers them and its solution, and include the name of your product in the title. So, to capture your readers' attention, you must understand their problems and learn how to talk with them.
On the other hand, with bad headlines, your content marketing can fail. It refers to titles that are not relevant - and do not match the content of the blog post.
Search engines will abbreviate titles longer than 62 characters, which may result in lower conversion rates in the future.
A powerful headline is crucial and not just something you want to write.
According to Caples, a famous copywriter: If it's a bad headline, the rest of the text won't be read. And a text that is not read does not sell the product.
Before we move on to other simple strategies for writing headlines, you must be familiar with the 4U rule.
4U strategy for writing powerful headlines that convert
The 4U strategy will help you write more compelling headlines.
It is named 4U because all four of its elements begin with the letter U:
- Your title should be useful (Useful)
- The title should convey a sense of urgency (Urgent).
- Make the title unique (Unique)
- The title should be ultra-specific (Ultra-specific)
1. Your title should be Useful.
When you understand your audience who they are and what they want, then it is easy to know what is useful for them. Useful can be anything: informative, practical, simple, valuable, gradual, etc.
Here you can put yourself in the place of your readers and understand which headlines you click on when scrolling through Facebook or your email messages. It is probably something that interests you and is useful to you?
All other elements of the 4U strategy are directly related to utility.
There is no way you can write a blog post that is - unique and specific without being useful at the same time.
The utility - is most often used when it comes to products.
The essence is to offer the reader a solution to the problem, knowledge, and hope that it is their problem that can be solved.
Nobody, in my opinion, will read an article if it is not helpful to them.
For example, would you read my article titled: My Marketing Strategies or 5 Surefire Marketing Strategies for Sales Success?
Both texts talk about the same things.
The first focuses on marketing strategies, while the second brings the reader a benefit - success in sales - clearly tells how you will achieve it - with 5 surefire marketing strategies.
It is precisely what makes it useful for the reader.
Examples of useful titles:
- Create a professional proposal for clients within minutes.
- How to get 10,000 readers for your blog?
2. The title should carry a sense of Urgency.
In addition to email messages, products, and services, blog posts can also have titles with a sense of urgency. Headlines with a sense of urgency are used to encourage people to click immediately after reading it, or they will postpone it until tomorrow or leave forever.
You see an example of something like this in the news every day.
For example: "There is a cleaning product that causes headaches. Find
out more about this tonight at 8 pm."
Every person who cleans their house will want to find out what it is and will look at the following news.
Likewise, a person would click on an article and read it.
You will not always be able to apply a title with a sense of urgency to other elements of the 4U strategy.
To increase conversions, copywriters add a sense of urgency to their copy on sales pages.
Thus, customers react faster and buy based on emotions (which they justify with logic).
Words related to the time that you can include in the title to give it a sense of urgency:
- Just in time...
- Before the next one
If you're a personal development coach who helps others improve or a writer who educates others to become better writers.
Then you have plenty of room to include a sense of urgency in your
- Publish a book in 30 days (learn my tricks).
- There are only 3 ways to regain your confidence.
- The 4 steps I needed to write my first book (and how you can do it too in 3 steps).
Online stores often use a sense of urgency and scarcity in their product titles, which give significant results.
For example, you'll often see titles like these for products on Amazon, especially electronics and equipment.
The sense of urgency is not only applied to content marketing but can also apply to productivity, health, and everyday life.
3. Make the title Unique.
Unique means that your title is different from any other.
How can you check if your title is unique?
By entering your title in the Google search box in quotation marks (to get the exact result) and searching:
For my Google search, the result is "no results."
To get conversions, you need to write a headline - that no one else has written.
Use everything you can, puns, and rare expressions, to make your title stand out and stand out. When the content stands out and is unique in quality, then readers are happy to share it with others.
Here is an example:
- 5 tips to add urgency to your email messages
- The smart way to create headlines with a sense of urgency
- How to start a business without common mistakes
4. The title should be Ultra-Specific
Your most detailed blog posts are ultra-specific to your target audience. Ultra-specific headline sends a message to the reader - what to expect in the content when they click on the headline.
Ultra-specific headlines require precision, as this will help you stand out in your industry and find potential customers.
A popular type of ultra-specific headlines is those that contain numbers.
When writing about a topic, work it out in steps that will be useful
to your audience.
For example, when I write about landing page creation, I make sure to include all the steps that the reader can apply themselves. That's why I often write articles as guides because that's how I show people how to solve and use what they didn't know.
You need to know your audience to write headlines that will suit their needs.
How would you write an ultra-specific headline?
Let's say you want to include "marketing plan for bloggers" as a keyword. Title versions that can be ultra-specific are:
- Learn how to write a blog marketing plan from scratch
- Step by step to create a marketing plan for your blog in 60 minutes
- 9 Great Blog Marketing Plan Drafts That Succeed
The parts I've bolded make these titles ultra-specific.
Use specific data and numbers in the Headlines
An effective way to make the title more attractive to readers and increase clicks is to include specific data and numbers. When the reader sees the number in the title, he knows exactly what to expect.
I use them a lot when I write my blog posts.
Most research confirms that headlines that contain numbers achieve 70% more shares and engagement on social networks.
Here is a study that confirms that headlines with numbers have a more significant impact compared to other types of titles:
According to the Content Marketing Institute, people remember headlines with odd numbers more easily.
For example, instead of writing the word "five" in the title, it is better to use the number "5".
Instead of writing: "Five ways to make money blogging," you use "5 ways to make money blogging."
It is not to say that even numbers do not work well. Of course, they do, especially when promoting specific content. When it comes to numbers, you can use classic lists for posts. People write list posts because they are readable and have a higher click-through rate.
The fact that headlines with numbers work well is evidenced by the site Buzzfeed and its founder Jonah Peretti, who spends an average of 2.8 hours a day writing headlines:
Buzzfeed attracts millions of visitors per month, mostly based on great headlines.
There is another fascinating thing about titles with numbers - which ones numbers, should be used?
According to research by BuzzSumo, which tracked engagement on Facebook to posts with numbers in the title, here are the results:
In the research, ten was the most successful number. Together with 10, the numbers 5, 15, and 7 are also the best results on the list. It does not mean that you should not include larger numbers.
People choose lists with lower numbers because they know they need much - less time to read.
Examples of titles with numbers:
- 17 Internet Marketing Books to Become a Better Seller
- How to increase your conversion rate by 357%
- 31 Ways to Describe Your Product That Will Increase Your Traffic by 40%
Strategy for writing powerful headlines - between 5 and 9 words
You shouldn't make an introduction out of the title, but it shouldn't be just a few words. The title should contain enough information to grab your audience's attention.
In its research, OutBrain confirmed that the best titles are those that contain eight words because they achieve the highest click rates.
Why not 7? Or 16 words? Why exactly eight.
I don't know the answer, but I can assume that it has something to do with processing information in the human brain. A study by George A. Miller in psychology confirms that the number of objects that the average person can store in memory is "7 plus or minus two."
In addition to this, there is another statement that you can use and combine
with the number of words in the title. It is for readers to absorb the first
three and last three words in the title. If you can't limit your title to
six or more words, then try to put relevant keywords in these places.
The first two words - the first 11 characters determine the most about attracting readers to your content. The effectiveness of the number of words in the title may depend on the content in question.
For example, with paid ads, the length of the title that gave results it was 16 to 18 words long.
I could only explain this with logic - if you want to attract a large number of people who do not know you at all, then you will try to write a descriptive, more extended title.
Adding or removing words from the title will not help if the title does not make sense and is not legible.
Here are the results of a Polar study conducted by the website Contently, which examined 10,627 titles' character numbers and click rates:
You can see on these graphics that the titles with the most clicks have
between 90 and 99 characters.
It could mean that if you want the most clicks for your ad, then write a title between 16 and 18 words that will contain 90 to 99 characters.
Strategy for writing powerful headlines - using power words
Writers use "power words" to elicit an emotional and psychological response from their audience. They are "power words" because they are very persuasive and, as a result, motivate people to take action.
They are the easiest way to increase the conversion rate, regardless of whether it is an email message, a blog post, a landing page, or a sales page.
20 most influential words of David Ogilvy:
There are many ways in which words of power are distributed. For them to understand better, I will divide them into three groups:
Sensory (visual) words that, as Henneke says, help readers feel, see and hear your words, so they engage the brain more and attract attention.
- 19 ways to get massive followers on Twitter
Sensory words help you paint a picture in your readers' minds.
Persuasive (seductive) words attract readers to take action without much thought.
An example is the word new, which - is often used by companies (such as Apple) in their advertisements.
People generally perceive the word "new" as something better.
If you want to attract attention, use the word "new" for a video, course, or blog post. Next to the word "new," action is effortlessly prompted by the word "free."
Emotive words aim to encourage a specific action by acting on emotions. No matter how much we think we are rational beings, emotions - are always used when making decisions that are justified by logic.
Not all emotions work the same way. For example, I don't believe that someone will buy a product out of anger, but the exact opposite can happen out of fear.
Emotional words that are most often used on the Internet are those that arouse curiosity.
I already mentioned the site BuzzFeed, which uses this strategy a lot, as well as Upworthy, which always tests 25 titles to choose the best.
Words of power should not be misused - to manipulate customers. The goal of using power words is to increase conversion rates. Customers are not numbers but human beings with emotions.
According to Mark Ingwer, the author of Empathic Marketing, only if you understand the reasons why people buy, you can have loyal customers and grow your business. Builds trust with customers and answers their questions. They are not overwhelmed with sales messages.
Ask a question that sparks curiosity
Headlines with questions arouse curiosity in readers. It is especially true for closed-ended questions that have a good conversion rate.
When you ask a closed question, the reader has already answered "no" or "yes" in his head.
- Do you want to become an internet marketing professional?
- Do you use hashtags in your posts on Facebook?
Question headlines focus on audience needs.
People turn to Google for answers, so all they have to do is click on the question title and read your text. You'll make this process easier if you ask the questions in the title the way people do when they search.
If you use the same keywords in the title - you have already done enough to increase the number of visitors. In addition to problems and solutions, with a title with a question, you can also focus on emotions.
Research has confirmed that headlines with question marks on Twitter are opened 44% more than those with exclamation points.
Since it is easy to give advice - I will also help you with examples so that you can put writing a title with a question into practice.
You can apply the templates of these titles already in the first blog post, just edit them a little:
- What can ________ teach you about ________?
- How will ________ make your ________ more successful?
- Do you use ________? Proven tips for ________?
- How can you ________ to ________?
- What is really the best ________?
- ________ will help you ________?
- When is the best time to ________?
- Why is ________ more professional than ________?
Create a headline that offers a solution: Teach your readers how to do something
I could ask you now - why did you click on the title of this post - did you
see it in your email, Google, or Facebook? Maybe you're looking for a
solution to your challenge of writing better headlines? Maybe, you're
interested in the best strategies for creating headlines or both?
In this section, we talk about "How to" type titles - which work great because they offer a solution to a specific problem.
When someone needs help to achieve something, chances are high that they will search engine enter the word "how to" (How to Install Windows 10).
You can try to include such words in your titles to improve SEO. When you use this title as specifically as you can, you will have the most significant success.
How to start a successful online t-shirt business and make $1,000 in three weeks.
If you read my blog, you've already seen that I love to create informative guides that show how to do a specific thing.
You can use your knowledge in a specific area and create detailed instructions for your readers. For this purpose, you can use some research, and case studies, to tell the story of your work with achieved results and changes.
It will make your headlines more interesting and arouse the curiosity of the readers.
You must know the problems your readers are facing to be as specific as possible in the headline. Make each of those problems more specific.
Ask your followers a question on social media and email to find out.
Here are some templates for your "How To" headlines:
- How _________ will help you _________.
- Why _________ will make you feel better _________.
- How to increase _________ when (with) _________.
- How to create a great _________ on _________.
- How to start a successful _________ for _________.
- How to develop _________ to achieve success _________.
- How to start _________. This will help you to _________.
- How _________ for _________.
Use superlatives and negative words in your headlines
You may assume (as I have - for a long time) that positive statements in the headline bring the most clicks, conversions, and shares.
I use positive superlatives in my titles, such as the easiest, the best, the fastest, the biggest, etc.
Concerning positive, negative superlatives are: never, worst, most difficult, etc.
However, it is not entirely true that titles with positive superlatives bring clicks.
Moz/Conductor conducted a survey, the results of which confirmed that more than half of respondents like negative headlines. A quarter of respondents (25%) showed interest in titles that had up to 4 superlatives:
Similar testing was performed by OutBrain - on 65.000 titles. With them, negative superlatives had a 60% better result than positive ones. OutBrain explains that this result may be due to the overuse of positive superlatives, while negative superlatives may be more intriguing and unexpected.
When it comes to news headlines, for example, you're more likely to click on headlines like these:
- The worst marketing tools in the last 10 years
- 11 ways Facebook is ruining your life
- The number of dissatisfied bloggers has never been lower
Strategy for writing powerful headlines - clean and clear headlines
Great headlines are never ambiguous. Using words and phrases that are not common is a way to confuse your readers. Make an effort to explain complex things simply, and to convey your message through simple words. Use common words and adjectives.
For example, a confusing title would read:
- 5 best-visited sites for finding the most interesting topics for a blog post
- 5 top sites for finding useful blog post topics
One study examined the five headline types that - are most frequently used. The obtained result showed that the most attractive title is the one that is the clearest.
To better understand this, I will give you five examples related to the five types of headlines tested in this study:
- Normal - Ways to make writing a blog post easier.
- Question - What are some ways to make writing a blog post easier?
- How to - How to make writing a blog post easier.
- Number - 9 ways to make writing a blog post easier.
- Addressing the Reader - Ways How to Make Writing a Blog Post Easier.
Readers are looking for clarity. Be as clear as you can. Nobody wants ambiguity, especially when they are looking for solutions and answers.
Use formulas to write powerful headlines that convert
The fight for readers' attention is not easy at all. Your title should stand out in the sea of posts that are published every day.
Your task is clear: to attract attention and arouse curiosity.
Let's find out which headline formulas work proven and get the most shares.
People are naturally drawn to articles that help them learn how to do something practical.
What do they do then?
They enter their question in the search field (for example, "How to make a blog").
The formula for such a title reads:
How to [achieve something certain, specific]
If you want to share your personal story, then this formula can read:
How I [achieved something specific] in [time].
If you use interesting adjectives, the title can be even more attractive to the audience.
Here are some adjectives you can use to create a title:
The formula for a title of the type "how..." containing a number and an adjective:
[Number][Adjective] Ways [to achieve something specific]
To make the whole process of creating titles easier for yourself, it is a good idea to apply titles that are practiced by fitness experts. The first point out the problem, then offer a solution, and finally make a promise.
Here is a headline formula that is very successful and consists of a combination of two types of headlines.
It is an instruction on how to do something and a list of ways as a solution.
The formula reads:
How to [achieve something]:[x] tips or steps
- How to be consistent: 5 steps to get things done all the time
- How to Improve Google Rankings: 9 Steps to Rank Faster Using Analytics
If you write list posts, then you are already applying the following formula.
Lists are always popular and should contain concrete steps that readers can quickly apply.
Title formula for list posts:
[X][Adjective] Ways to [achieve something specific, specific]
- 52 ways to tell someone you love and appreciate them
- 3 creative ways to hear this inner truth
An excellent formula that is used in the healthcare industry, it can also be used in blogging, marketing, social networks, SEO optimization, and the like.
And here we are talking about titles that help and promise a solution to the reader's problem. Who wouldn't want to get rid of some everyday problem?
The formula reads:
Get rid of [problem type][timeframe or solution]
- How to get rid of blogging mistakes and start making money from blogging.
- 9 smart ways to take the hassle out of affiliate marketing and make more money.
One classic title formula that works well is the use of the word guide, which refers to a post that guides readers through a topic. For such a title to bring you results, deal with a specific topic and use unusual words.
Guide to [adjective] for [specific topic].
- A guide to creating viral content based on data
- A quick guide to fixing old, neglected, broken content
A headline formula that contains the why is very powerful especially when you use numbers along with the reasons why those facts and figures are true.
[X] reasons why [explaining fact]
- 13 Reasons Why Blog Ads Are A Stupid Money-Making Strategy (And What To Do Instead)
A simpler version of this formula reads:
Why [surprising fact].
- Why SEO is all abouts content marketing
This formula works best when you prove in your post what you claim in the title and how true it is.
With this formula, Moz achieved 9.4 thousand shares on one post.
A Few Final Tips
Titles are essential because they introduce the reader to the content. If you get stuck with writing, use one of the strategies and formulas in this article.
When you create a title, imagine how you will get someone's attention and tell a story.
Your readers' behavior will tell you which headlines work and which don't.
Here's what works:
- Use up to 8 words if your audience is known and up to 18 if you launch an ad.
- Use numbers and specific details
- Use negative or neutral words and less positive superlatives.
- Be as clear as you can.
- Above all, be consistent and keep learning new ways to write a catchy headline that will encourage sharing.
The better your headline, the better your marketing will be. Test the titles and practice. Testing titles is relatively easy if you know how to use the tools for that purpose.
Many internet marketing platforms have built-in tools for creating and analyzing headlines:
If you follow these strategies and apply them to test - you will notice an increase in clicks and conversions based on improved and new titles. Thank you for visiting my blog and reading this article! Like and share it on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
How many versions of the title do you write for each post? How much time do you spend writing headlines versus content? Write in the comments.