In today’s buying cycle, creating effective headlines is more important than ever before. In recent years, it has become no secret that the buyer’s journey occurs exceedingly online. Gone are the days of realizing a problem or need and picking up the phone and calling a sales professional for additional information on their product or service. Instead, we log on to our computers, pull up Google and search.
To adapt to this shift in process, content marketing has risen to the forefront of lead generation and cultivation efforts for large and small businesses alike. By creating relevant industry-related content, businesses are able to attract prospects and nurture them through targeted email campaigns and offers. Sounds simple, right? So what’s the struggle?
The struggle is breaking away from the crowd! As I mentioned earlier, it is not a secret that the buyer’s journey occurs online. So unless you specialize in breeding champion Alpacas, getting noticed amongst your competitors is difficult. Furthermore, having a prospect’s email address doesn’t mean they care about what you have to say. My inbox is littered with unopened offers and content pieces of yesteryear. Creating great content is part of the puzzle but the reality is that we live in a world where the difference between a sale or another lost opportunity is nothing more than a click.
Here are 10 tips for creating effective blog and email headlines, aimed at getting prospects to take notice and click on!
1. Use Bracketed Clarifications
Prospects are looking for something specific so it is essential that headlines clearly identify with the prospect’s needs and accurately represent the information they will find inside. One way to be very specific is by using bracketed or parenthesized clarifications within your headline. For example, if you’re sending a SlideShare, add (SlideShare) to the end of your headline. Do the same for infographics (Infographic), new tools you develop (New Tool), or even video (Video). A recent study completed by Outbrain and Hubspot showed that headlines that did use bracketed clarifications performed 38% better than those without them.
2. The Shorter the Better
There has been much debate as to whether the length of a headline matters. I am here to end that debate. The shorter the better! Shorter headlines increase clarity when combing through search engines while longer headlines tend to get truncated in search results. Keep your headlines under 65 characters and open rates will go up!
3. Mobile Ready
Here is a quick stat for you. Nearly 50% of email opens are being read on some type of mobile device. This translates to your website and blogs as well. It is vital that your headlines can quickly grab the attention of a prospect on a small screen. Going back to my previous tip - this is another reason to keep your headlines short.
4. Nothing Comes Easy
Sometimes whether a headline is deemed “clickworthy” depends more upon what we don’t do as opposed to what we do. As inbound marketers, we know as well as anyone that nothing comes “easy” or is “simple.” Relax with the “easy’s” in your subject lines and titles and views will increase whether what you preach is true or not. The word “easy” tends to sound spammy and that hurts results especially for prospects at the top or above the funnel.
5. The Death of YOU
Studies have also shown that making references toward the prospect using the word “you” or any variations of it in a headline is a bad idea. In fact, headlines that include the word “you” performed 36% worse than those without it. Perhaps readers find it pushy or once again spammy. It is difficult to determine exactly why this is the case but one thing is for sure, numbers never lie.
6. Personalization is Key
One way to personalize your email subject line is by including your prospect’s name in it. Using automation tools to include the prospect’s name in the headline undoubtedly leads to more opens and there are numbers to back that up. A recent study completed by Retention Science analyzed 260 million emails from over 540 campaigns and determined that personalization did increase open rates. Subject lines with names included had an average open rate of 18.3 percent, whereas subject lines without a name had an average open rate of 15.7 percent.
7. Test, Test, Test
The only way to truly ace your headline is with A/B testing. For those that are unfamiliar with the term, A/B testing is comparing the results of two versions of an email message or web page when sent to different segments of your target audience. For example, an A/B test on this post would have read “How to create effective blog and email headlines” to half the list compared to “10 Tips for Creating Effective Blog and Email Headlines” for the other half. Analytics then allow businesses to see which headline received optimal results (more conversions, clicks, etc.) and from there we can make educated decisions about which approach to use in the future.
8. Use Numbers and Lists
People love numbers and lists. The verdict is still out on this post but in regards to email or blog open rates, using numbers and lists helps assure the reader your content will be structured and easy to digest.
Phrasing your headline as a question gets the prospect thinking and engaging with your content prior to even opening it. Naturally, this leads to increased open rates and ultimately more conversions.
10. Be Bold
Lastly, be bold! Playing it safe with mundane word usage and broad generalities won’t get your headlines noticed. So be bold with your headlines. After all, your next click could be your next big deal.
So there you have it - my 10 tips for creating effective blog and email headlines. While every industry is different and these strategies won’t guarantee success, I am confident that implementing these techniques will help you stand out from the crowd!