Why We Need To Sweat Writing Winning Headlines
Writing winning headlines for blogs and posts and subject lines for emails is more critical now than ever before.
Back in the days when print was king (actually was the ONLY written medium) there were specific college courses on headline writing. I remember attending seminars at Folio Business Conferences where highly-paid editors devoted entire days to improving their headline writing skills and those of their teams. Good headlines were considered that important, even then. Magazines sold primarily on newsstands lived or died by their cover blurbs.
And in the digital age, I contend they are even more important, and here’s why. Back in the days of newspapers, the content that supported the headline was right there! The only action required of the reader to get from the headline to the content was to move their eyes a few fractions of a millimeter. Boom! They were reading the story.
Today, the headline or subject line are nearly always delivered separate from anything but perhaps a couple dozen words of the copy. To get to the content that supports the headline, the would-be reader must take an action. They need to move the cursor to some specific spot on the page and click to make the story appear, and then a second click is sometimes required.
The headline or subject line must entice, titillate, motivate, inspire, cajole, force, drive, convince, scare and/or otherwise make the would-be consumer of your content take the action necessary to go get the copy or play the video. It’s important!
A recent piece on “Contently” inspired me to post this blog. It’s really long, but it’s well worth the read. It goes in-depth on how to write headlines that get more attention, clicks, and reads. I know I’ll be going back to it often because it offers a ton of information, some of which, frankly, I’ll need to reread a few times to fully comprehend.
However it put me in mind of a headline analyzer that I’ve been playing with lately and thought I’d share via this post. Write the best, most attractive headline you think you possibly can, then go to Coschedule.com and see what CoSchedule thinks of your work. My experience so far is that scoring a B+ even after several rewrites is a BIG DEAL! Certainly a single score on an analyzer app isn’t the end all and be all of headline writing, but it does help inspire me to up my game.
Deep down, as a writer, I believe that the meat of the content must deliver on the promise of the headline. If it doesn’t, you’ve just offended someone you could have made your fan (and customer) and you’ll not likely get them back again. You blew your one and only chance for a good first impression. But this doesn’t diminish the importance of the headline in any way. The headline, title, or subject line is necessary to tee up the opportunity to make an impression at all.