Content creation isn’t for the faint of heart. From creating catchy titles for articles to researching and including interesting facts to back your claims up – it can be tedious.
In fact, one of the most common problems most novice content creators often find themselves dealing with is low engagement rates.
Here’s the thing…
You can have the most outstanding content ever, yet, if you don’t have a catchy title for your article, one that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them beg for more, your amazing content won’t get noticed.
Why? 80% of readers will take the time to read your headline. However, only 20% of those individuals are going to move on to the body of your content.
Yes, content is vital to engagement. Unfortunately, that content isn’t the first thing your readers are going to see.
Much like an email, your online content is prefaced with a headline of some sort. This headline is the very first impression your readers are going to get from you. If your headline doesn’t stop them in their tracks, then they aren’t going to read through the rest of the content.
Why should they?
The moral of the story: First impressions are crucial!
To create a first impression that matters, you need to know how to craft a successful headline.Content creation isn't for the faint of heart. Without a catchy title to top off your outstanding content, it won't get noticed nearly as quickly OR as much. Learn how to do it from an expert copywriter at EW, Cassie B. Click To Tweet
Capturing the Reader’s Attention: The 4 Primary Functions of a Successful Catchy Title or Article Headline
In his book, The Copywriter’s Handbook, Robert Bly outlines just how critical a properly formatted headline is to any piece of content. He states that your headline is the “first impression” readers get, and it can mean the difference between success or failure:
“If the first impression is boring or irrelevant, the ad will not attract your prospect. If it offers news or helpful information or promises a reward for reading the ad, the first impression will win the reader’s attention.” – Robert Bly, The Copywriter’s Handbook, 4th Edition
Before you can start creating catchy titles for articles, blogs, and other content, its essential that you understand the primary functions of a successful headline. Here at Express Writers, our content specialists are carefully trained in creating not only eye-catching headlines but headlines that perform.
We understand that there are four primary functions of a successful headline. I’ve gone ahead and outlined them for you below.
1. Select Your Audience
As a content writer, you already understand just how important it is to know your target audience. Julia McCoy, the founder of our agency, talks at length in her book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, about how creating content that nets any ROI requires the writer to not only identify, but understand who their audience is:
“Sure, you could start writing and creating content any time, but without an understanding of whom you’re creating it for, your visitors may not connect with any of it.” – Julia McCoy, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing
Bly also discusses this in The Copywriter’s Handbook. He goes on to say that a successful headline will cater to the needs of a specific audience member, and this is because it’s meant to drive action. If crafted correctly, your headline could be responsible for not only driving engagement to your piece of content, but also for converting a reader into a new prospective lead.
Take the following ComEd ad:
In the time of COVID-19, ComEd understands that many of their audience members are currently experiencing financial difficulties. So, instead of simply headlining their ad with “New Bill Options,” they target the members of their audience who are genuinely struggling by including the term “Assistance” in their headline as well.
2. Capture the Reader’s Attention
Once you’ve defined your audience, you’ll be able to start formulating a headline that captures their attention. To do this, you have to go beyond the “norm” and not be afraid to push the envelope a bit. Of course, I’ll never advocate for creating clickbait headlines, but that doesn’t mean you have to have dreary headlines that only state the facts.
The best way to get your reader’s attention is by appealing to their self-interest or by introducing a hot piece of news.
Here is a good example that got me to stop scrolling through my Facebook feed recently:
As a professional content creator, something I research quite a bit is ways to increase my follower engagement, and since I publish a lot of my own personal content on my social media pages, the fact that this ad highlights “Social Media” and maximizing follower engagement – I was instantly drawn in. This is an excellent example of a brand fulfilling my self-interest because it’s telling me they can help me accomplish something I’m currently working to improve on.
Here’s a fun fact worth knowing: 76% of consumers expect a company to understand what it is they need.
So, make sure you are addressing those needs in your headlines to convey to readers you can deliver what they want and/or are looking for.
3. Deliver a Complete Message to Your Audience
Let’s take another look at that Facebook ad from Marketo. They for sure were able to get me to stop scrolling by using keywords that caught my attention, however, for it to be a compelling headline, it has to deliver a full message, too.
While the copy in the ad was effective enough to get me to stop in my tracks, it was their message that got me curious.
“Develop a Social Media Calendar”
It’s short, it’s sweet, and it tells me exactly what I need to do to improve my follower engagement. In fact, this message is so effective, it stops my eyes from wandering and fulfills the final function of a successful headline.
4. Entice Your Reader into Reading Further
This headline is direct enough to tell me exactly what I need to do, yet it also has me wondering how to move forward. The headline is intriguing enough that I’m going to read its subheading, and I’m even compelled to click the ad to learn more.
Marketo did a wonderful job of fulfilling all four functions of a successful headline. However, no two headlines will ever be the same. That means this same approach may not work for a brand that, for example, provides email marketing services.
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That said, it’s time to dive into the best formulas for creating catchy titles for your articles.
8 Catchy Headline Title Types for Your Next Article
Headlines are often put off to the end of the content creation process simply because so much more work goes into the meat of the actual piece of content. This leads to haphazard headlines that are created just to entice a click – A.K.A. clickbait titles.
There are right and wrong ways to go about creating a headline that earns not only click-throughs, but also increased engagement from your audience.
Julia talks more in-depth on the subject in her YouTube lesson on how to ditch the “annoying clickbait headlines” in favor of quality content:
So, get your pen and paper out and start jotting down notes on these eight headline title types that are guaranteed to help you increase reader engagement.
The top 8 catchy headline types are formulas you can mine over and over for great engagement. Learn all about direct & indirect headlines, news headlines, how-to headlines, + more with examples ✍ Click To Tweet
1. Direct Headlines
We live in a TLDR (too long, didn’t read) society, and while catchy titles for articles are great, if they get long-winded or try to hide the point of the piece, then your readers are going to move on rather quickly.
Here’s the thing – people don’t always READ your titles. They just skim them. So, keeping them short, sweet, and to the point is an ideal method.
Take this example from Neil Patel:
Source: Neil Patel
This title gets right to the point and tells the reader exactly what they’re getting if they read the article in full.
2. Indirect Headlines
Now, while many readers prefer direct headlines, sometimes it takes a bit of finessing to genuinely capture their interest enough to click-through to your site and take the time to read the article in full.
60% of people will share an article they come across on social media without reading past the headline!
This is especially true if you give away all your goods in the headline. Instead, craft a title that not only makes your point but does so in a roundabout way so that your readers must actually click and read the article to find out what they should/shouldn’t be doing.
This catchy article title from ProBlogger is one of the most talked-about examples when it comes to crafting indirect headlines that work:
3. News Headlines
News headlines are pretty straightforward! These are the headlines that share news about a new product, must-know industry news, and more.
Campaign Monitor does a beautiful job of crafting news headlines that both get to the point, but entice readers to click for more information:
Source: Campaign Monitor
4. How-to Headlines
When readers head online for information, they are very likely searching for an answer to a “how-to” question. In fact, BuzzSumo did an in-depth headline analysis on what works and what doesn’t, and when looking into the top first word used in articles, the word “How” took the third spot overall:
Crafting “how-to” titles is amazingly simple, and when a direct approach is taken, these articles can perform quite well.
5. Question Headlines
If “how-to” headlines work well with a direct approach, then question headlines make for an excellent example of an indirect headline that piques the reader’s interest and encourages them to click-through to your page.
These headlines highlight the reader’s issue, and then tells them that you’ve got their solution, much like this example from one of Julia’s recently published blogs:
Source: Write Blog
6. Command Headlines
If you want your readers to take action without having to spell it out for them in your headline, then a command headline is right up your alley!
These headlines tell your prospects exactly what they need to do to solve their pain point and to complete that action; they must click and read your article, much like this example from Smart Insights:
Source: Smart Insights
7. Reason-Why Headlines
Another excellent example of a direct headline that generates action is the “reason-why” or listicle article headline. Again, your readers are looking for answers to their questions – so, you want to supply them with the answers, and a listicle allows you to give them “reasons” or multiple solutions to work with.
After all – people do like options!
Source: Search Engine Journal
8. Testimonial Headlines
One of the most underutilized headline types is the testimonial headline.
Marketers understand just how crucial testimonials can be. After all, approximately 92% of consumers will read online reviews before making a purchase, while 72% of consumers state that positive testimonials/reviews help to increase their trust in a business.
A great way to use your customer testimonials is to format them into a detailed blog to show prospective clients how they could benefit from your products/services.
The email marketing giant, Campaign Monitor, does an excellent job of doing just that:
Source: Campaign Monitor
Our Content Strategy Research Now Focuses on These 8 Types of Headline Titles
Here at Express Writers, we don’t just talk the talk – we walk the walk.
We understand that reaching your customers in a deep and emotional way is vital to the success of your content. As I stated before, first impressions are crucial – so you must apply this same thought to your headlines as well.
As a part of our content strategy services, we conduct headline analysis using the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer, but we also believe that the most powerful tools in our arsenal include:
- Using structured headline formulas
- Humanly-done research
- Relevancy to our clients’ niche and audiences
Our Content Strategists have swipe files on hand that include lists of power words and lists of proven headline formulas that work, time and time again, for developing powerful headlines. They personally create and review your headlines for relevancy and accuracy using Robert Bly’s eight proven headline structures from The Copywriter’s Handbook, as well as relevant power words.
It can take quite a few tries to craft a headline that works, so our Strategists put in the time, work, and effort to build a great headline that drives traffic to your content.
Curious how our Content Strategists can help you craft catchy headlines for your articles? Schedule a call with one of our talented team members today!
Creating Catchy Titles for Your Articles
Creating catchy titles for your articles doesn’t have to be a tedious process.
The key to success, which Julia discovered back in 2012 just after forming Express Writers, includes better strategy – researching your topics and keywords carefully, picking the right terms, and then weaving those into headlines that perform.
After testing out her theory among her team and clients, she decided it was time to pass on the knowledge to those who needed it most: content creators, such as yourself.
The lessons taught in this course are an excellent complement to the teachings of Robert Bly and his approach to crafting catchy titles for articles, which include the eight types of headlines we’ve covered above.
If creating catchy titles for your online articles is a struggle, then let us help you simplify the process! Learn more about our Content Strategy & Planning options.