Even after you’ve gotten a piece of content in front of an audience, getting them to find what they need in it can be a challenge. One thing that shouldn’t stand between your quality content and its potential readers is a poorly constructed headline. That’s why, as one of SCG’s proud content creators, I’m sharing a few tried-and-true headline writing tips for crafting a stinger that entices readers and contributes to the quality of whatever you’ve written.
It’s okay to start writing without a headline
If you’ve ever fretted over your headline before a piece is written, first off, I want to personally welcome you to the writing profession. Second, you should know that it’s totally fine to start writing, get those ideas out and then come up with a title that perfectly encompasses all of those ideas. (That isn’t to say you shouldn’t hold onto a great headline if one presents itself before you’ve written – just be willing to bend it if the content dictates.)
Know who you’re writing for
Generally, no single thing you write will be interesting to everyone (again, welcome to the club). What you can do is gear your content toward the people you want to reach. Headlines are super helpful for planting the seed that creates interest and drives people to find out more by actually reading. Kate did it with this blog, zeroing in on a universal marketing topic (who doesn’t love conversions?) in a way that specifically targets the needs of B2B companies, service providers and other marketers whose offerings aren’t offered through a “click-to-buy” model. It’s a great article! You should read it!
Know what you want them to do
Are you writing to promote a particular product or service? Call it out in the headline. Commenting on a general industry topic? Try something more conceptual that demonstrates knowledge of the subject. (No matter what it’s about, any writing can speak to your expertise on a topic – but since so many readers won’t get past the headline, it’s crucial to make the most of their fleeting attention spans.) Different headline styles (from the formal to the conversational and beyond) can appeal to a reader’s intent, be it solving a problem, keeping up with current trends or just learning more about a subject.
If this headline writing tip seems particularly particular, it’s for good reasons: headlines with various forms of punctuation (colons, parentheses, en- and emdashes, question marks, etc.) can give headlines an almost vocal cadence. They also open the door to more stylistic touches, like introducing a concept before the subject (the headline on this piece from Waypoint, a Vice site focused on critical reads of video games, is a great example) or even playfulness (read: puns) where appropriate. Also, studies have shown that using punctuation in headlines can increase clickthrough rates, if that’s your thing.
Not sure how to get eyes on your content? Get in touch with us to find out how we use every tool in our arsenal, including clever headlines, to turn prospects into leads.
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