“You had me at ‘Hello.’”
It’s time to take a leaf out of Jerry Maguire’s book and apply it to headline writing. Before readers even get to your great content, you have to wow them with a stunning headline and draw them in.
So how do you get your buyer personas to respond? Which headlines grab their attention and keep all the way through your article? Here are five great tips for writing headlines that speak to your audience.
Teach them something
“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”
You might recognise this as the title of a 2003 romantic comedy, but you can’t deny that if you saw this headline, you wouldn’t be at least a bit curious. But why? Well, let’s break down this headline and see why it’s so appealing.
First off, the “how-to” signals instruction. It tells your readers that you are going to teach them how to do something, like lose a guy. This phrase has been known to grab readers’ attention because, like you, they want to grow and learn more about their industry.
The last part, “10 Days,” is an excellent example of a numeral use in a headline. Numeral use is most often used as a wow factor. Your audience will either be impressed that they can complete a task in so few steps or excited to learn about the many different ways to complete a task or the reasons why they should or should not do or believe something..
So now that we’ve dissected this headline, let’s look at its use in B2B headlines. You might try something similar to the following:
“How to Protect Your Data from Cyber Attacks”
“How to Attract High-Achieving Students to Your TAFE Institution”
“How to Generate Strong Leads Without Leaving Your Bed”
As you can see, using different elements we discussed above make headline writing stronger and more engaging.
Make a list
“10 Essential Elements of a Popular Banking Blog Post”
This headline employs the numeral factor that we discussed above, but it does so in a completely different way. In this case, the blogger is making a list.
List posts are perhaps one of the most favoured ways of B2B writing. They offer a promise to readers, in this case that they can craft perfect banking blog posts in just 10 easy steps. List posts can range in size, anywhere from 3 to 10. Try out different lengths with your audience and see which ones have more success. Your readers might have a longer attention span than you give them credit for.
Another major part of this headline is the use of the words “essential” and “popular.” These are called power words. They motivate your audience to act in a certain way. These are just any elements; they’re essential. We won’t help you create just banking blog posts; you’ll have perfect posts instead.
Let’s look at a few more examples:
“5 Easy Ways to Sell a House Fast”
“7 No-brainer Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Merchant Account Service”
“3 Quick Bookkeeping Tips that Can Save You $5,000 Each Month”
These lists all promise results, and they promise them fast.
Keep it short and snappy
“Sell More. Stress Less. Breath Easy.”
This headline is short; there is no denying it. But why does it seem so intriguing?
This headline drives home and gets right to the point. Readers are going to learn to sell more and be less stressed. It promises a lifestyle change from the sometimes hectic world of sales to a less stressful and relaxing environment.
These six little words are also separated into groups of three, which makes them much easier to remember and offer maximum benefits. If you only had two benefits, would you be as intrigued? What if there were two more words? Would you remember all the benefits then? Probably not.
Looks at a few other headlines:
“Show more. Advertise Less. Save Money.”
“Lead Better. Lead Stronger. Lead Faster.”
“Show up. “Close it. Get Paid.”
Play to emotions
“It’s Probably Your Least Favourite Selling Tactic, But Here’s Why Data Shows It Works”
There’s a lot going on in this article, and it’s a little long, but it has some great elements to it that can make headline writing and blogging a little easier.
The first part tells readers that they’re going to turn a weakness into a strength. The second part backs up your claim, and in just about any industry, this is key. Businesses like analytics, and they rely on data to do the talking. Therefore, writing headlines that play to an audience’s analytical side will attract more readers.
This headline also creates mystery. Which selling tactic is the least favourite? Is it cold calls or attending trade shows? You won’t know unless you read the article, and even then, what does the data say?
Another example of using emotions to grab attention is the use of the word “free.” In headlines, it is shown to increase readership (because who doesn’t like free things?) and improve conversion rates. If you’re offering a free webinar or free ebook, there’s a good chance your audience will want to check it out.
Now let’s combine all of these tactics into headline examples:
“It’s Not the Most Popular Lead Generating Tactic, But Studies Show that It Works”
“This Marketing Tool Will Blow Your Mind”
“With Competitors in the Banking Industry Winning, No One Expected this Banker to Pull It Off”
It should be noted that these headlines should be used most often with case studies or human interest stories your company is promoting. Some companies might think you’re spamming them or having a brand identity crisis. Test out a few of these headlines to see if your market is interested.
Promote Awards, Endorsements and Rave Reviews
“Company X Wins Best in Show at Local Trade Show”
Obviously, this headline is a little vague, but imagine filling in your own company’s name and a trade show or event you recently attended. Now it seems like a pretty solid headline, eh?
When your company does something truly great, you want to share your accomplishments and achievements with your followers make sure they know how great you are. Don’t be afraid to publicise any awards you win or favourable reviews you receive. A small part of content marketing involves a little self-promotion, so if you’re company is receiving recognition, share it!
Try out some of these headlines (but be sure to put in your company’s info first):
“Bill Gates calls Company X ‘my watchdog’”
“Company Y’s Copywriter Wins Peabody Award”
“Town A Names Company Z ‘best friend of local businesses’”
Great headline writing takes practice, but if you never test out which ones work and which ones don’t, then your B2B marketing skills will never grow. Choose a few of these tips and see which ones work best for your audience.
About the Author:
Mike Bird is a co-founder of digital marketing agency, Social Garden. Social Garden specialises in data- driven lead generation & marketing automation to grow companies revenue in the finance, property and education verticals in Australia.
Mike is an influencer in the social media marketing & Facebook advertising space and contributes to Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, Yahoo! Business Advisor and most importantly, the Social Garden blog.