The #1 Secret to Writing Great Headlines

Secret to great headlinesThere is a lot of great advice from some very smart people out there about how to write effective headlines that will grab your readers and pull them in. You can take entire courses on this subject, such is its heft. That’s not this blog. I have just one tip for you. What I think is the single biggest secret to writing great headlines.

But why should we care so much about those few words? (I’m entering that one into the stupidest rhetorical questions of the year awards, I think I’m a shoe-in.) If the headline doesn’t do its job, the rest of your content, and all the work you put into creating it, is wasted. Garbage. Useless. You get the point.

According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 in 10 will read the rest. So, take the time to make that headline sing. Make it reach out and grab your reader by the collar and pull them into the story. Make it so compelling, they can’t do anything else until they have read the next line. Not bookmark it for later, not email it to themselves, or send it to Pocket. No. Make them read it NOW!

Well, duh, but how? I’m glad you asked, and now I think I’ve blabbered on long enough to tell you.

And the secret is …

The single, biggest secret to writing headlines that will get people to click your link is … wait for it … use the word “secret” in it. I’ll pause while that sinks in. Many of you feel like smacking me right now, but the answers we seek are often the simplest of options available. Or at least that’s what Sherlock Holmes said.

We loves secrets and shortcuts. We want to find that magic bullet that will solve our problem. We know it doesn’t really exist, but we are drawn to the possibility, unable to resist. My proof? Purely anecdotal at the moment, but you clicked it didn’t you? I will share stats on this in an upcoming post and let you know how it went. My blog is far from well read, so don’t expect big numbers, but I’ll let you know how it went. If it bombed, I promise to print a retraction.

In the meantime, try it yourself. Write the Secret To Getting Your Insurance Claim Paid, or the Secret to Getting More Prospects From Your For Sale Sign, or the Secret To Solving (Insert Customer Pain Point Here) and see what you get. I’ll bet it’s pretty good.

That all said, spend the time making the content of the article, whitepaper, book, or whatever, worth the read. Even if they read beyond the headline, they drop off quickly, with casualties piling up by the sentence. So, yes, work hard to get them in, but work just as hard to keep them there and make it worth their while. Otherwise you risk getting your first and last click from a potential customer.

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