Read This If You Want People To Respond To Your Headline Like Mad…

Guides | Thoughts By 3 years ago

Here’s the trick to funnelling traffic off the social web.

Write better headlines.

Sure, you need to be participating in conversations and engaging with customers, prospects and partners on your web compaigns and social media.

But sites like Twitter and Facebook are an endless flow if information snippets, each with the life expectancy of a fruit fly. If your goal is to encourage a click from a social site to a land page or a piece of content you will need to learn to write status updates that get clicks.

Consider this tweet from HubSpot,

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 1.08.05 am

Eight words and a link. HubSpot knows that this headline will get clicks to their webinar landing page. It makes a webinar offer with a promise to gain mastery of LinkedIn for marketing. It’s a good headline.

In today’s post, I’ll primarily use examples from Twitter for two reasons:

1. Twitter status updates have an incredibly short lifespan. If your update doesn’t trigger an immediate click, it’s usually lost forever.

2. Twitter’s 140 character count limit puts anyone that understands the fundamentals of good headline writing at an advantage.

With that being said, mastery of these headline fundamentals will improve much more than your social media marketing.

Writing better headlines will get more clicks from social media, but that’s just the beginning.

Understanding the art and science of compelling headlines is a staple of digital marking. It will improve your results in nearly every aspect of your marketing including:

  • Sales Page Headlines
  • Presentation Titles
  • Book/ Report Titles
  • Blog Post Titles
  • In-person Sales Communications

I could easily go on and on because understanding how to write great headlines is about understanding why people take action. Why they say “yes.”

And. if you’re in marketing – you are in the business of getting people to say “yes.”

Great headline usually fail into one of the following categories

  • Social Proof (Piggyback)
  • Threat 
  • Gain

Let’s address these one at a time and at the end of this article you can download my headline swipe file. This swipe file is filling with proven formulas that will get you more clicks from Twitter and more action from all aspects of your digital marketing.

Winning Headline Category 1 –  Social Proof Headlines. (Piggyback)

Smart marketing almost always incorporates social proof, the propensity for people to make choice based on choices that other people make.

The more people making that choice and the more influential those people are, the more influential the social proof.

Consider these headlines,

  • Why 1000’s of Melbournians Will Gather in Federal Square on December 8th
  • Why Dr. Oz Easts for a Midnight Snack
  • The New Google Glass Design Everyone is Talking About

The 1st and 3rd headlines are common social proof headlines while the 2nd is a Piggyback headline. The headline piggybacks off of the popularity of Dr. Oz.

Consider this tweet containing a piggyback headline from Brian Clark at Copyblogger.

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Winning Headline Category 2-  Threat Headlines

Often, people will be more motivated to take action to avoid pain than gain a benefit.

Well crafted threat headlines, like the following, incorporate the promise that you’ll be able to protect yourself from a threat if you take action.

  • The Big Lie Hiding in Your Apartment Rental Contract
  • Warning: Don’t Wear Your Google Glass while Driving Until You Read This
  • Is Your Office Chair Harmful to Your Health?

Take a look at this tweet from Jon Morrow. Those in the digital marketing industry will want to know how to stay in Google’s good graces.

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Winning Headline Category 3-  Gain Headlines

The easiest way to craft a headline is to simply state the benefit and make a promise that, if the person take action, they will gain this benefit.

  • Who Wants Quiet, Well-Behaved Dogs?
  • Give Me 10 Minutes and You’ll Be a Master at Tuning Your Guitar.
  • If You Can Boil Water You Can Make These 10 Delicious Tapas Recipes

This tweet from KISSMetrics makes a simple promise that you will gain knowledge about getting sign-ups without a marketing budget.

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3 Simple Ways To Improve Your Headlines

Now you’ve got an understanding of the headline categories and the traffic your are getting from your online campaign will increase exponentially if you apply these principles.

Speaking of ninja techniques, there are three other ways you can improve your ability to drive action from your headlines.

1. Add the words “how to”

This is a common mistake and it’s easy to correct.

Often I see tweets and other headlines that are statements. Remember that a good headline or tweet contains a promise that, if you click, the promise will be fulfilled.

In many cases, adding the words HOW TO to an existing headline will be a dramatic improvement which can turn a statement into a promise.

For example, here is a fantastic how-to tweet from a start-up software company called Bidsketch,

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 6.25.04 pm

If we remove the HOW TO from the tweet and it reads, “Apply the 80/20 Principle to Your Freelance Business [LINK].

This headline doesn’t make a promise, it makes a statement. Add the words HOW TO and you’ve got a promise, and a good headline.

2. Communicate time

One of the questions people will have when they read your headline is – how long will it take to fulfill the promise in the headline?

One way to improve your click through rate is to communicate some aspect of time in your headlines.

Take a look at this tweet from Hiten Shah,

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 6.28.29 pm

Based on this headline, I don’t think this is going to be a quick read. If I don’t have the time, I’m unlikely to click on this link even I might be interested in the topic. On the other hand, if I’m looking for a thorough exploration of this subject, I’m going to click and get settled in for a lengthy piece of content.

Notice how different this tweet could communicate the aspect of time,

“A Single, Simple Trend That Will Dominate America’s Future [LINK]

This tweet gives me the sense that this will be a short, concise piece of content that I can consume in a few minutes.

3. Add fascination

Adding a layer of fascination to your tweets and other headlines can lead to huge increases in engagement.

The key is to tie a gain or threat to something that is seemingly unrelated. These headlines make a promise but also tease the reader with curiosity.

For example, if I am going to write an article about web conversion, my headline will be “How to Be the MacGyver of the web: 3 Simples Ways to Boost Your Conversion Rate on a Shoestring Budget”.

The above headline makes a relevant, traditional promise: boost conversion rate on a budget. But the addition of MacGyver to the headline adds a layer of fascination.


Alright, this post is officially coming to an end. I hope you did enjoy the content and have had better ideas around how to write a winning headline than you did before.

However, I do understand that no one can become  masterful of anything overnight. Therefore, I’ve got a special gift for you.(since you read this far)

I’m giving away a special SWIPE FILE that contains top 72 best converting headlines been used by top marketing agencies/gurus over the year.

You can access it here

Feel free to access it when you are in need of headline inspiration and watch your social media/online marketing campaign traffic soar.

Alright, it’s 7:02 pm on Friday. Got to go and dress up for tonight’s world cup party.