A welcome mat is a small rug you place outside the front of your house or apartment for your guests to wipe their feet on before they enter. It’s the perfect way to welcome your guests while keeping dirt, water, and mud outside.
Think of your headlines like a welcome mat. You need to make it welcoming for your readers so they will read your story.
This means you need to summarize your story with a powerful headline. It’s the toughest part of writing a story but it’s the most important part.
Writing headlines is an art and a science.
Headlines create that important first impression. If you write compelling headlines, your readers will want to find out more right then and there.
The right headlines can draw in disinterested and skeptical readers, making them feel “welcome” to your home.
We’re in a tough competition for reader attention. If your headlines are not compelling enough to bring them “home” to you, you could lose your audience to your neighbors next door.
How do you write better headlines to make your stories more welcoming?
Let’s dive into 10 simple ways to write better headlines.
1. Tell your readers what they’re getting
Don’t always try to come up with something clever. Tell them that by doing X, you’ll get Y.
- What will the readers benefit from reading your story?
- Will they be entertained?
- Will your readers be educated?
- Or will your readers be inspired?
Your readers should know what they are getting before they read the entire story. Draw your readers and explain clearly what they are getting with your story.
2. Tap into emotions
Emotional headlines that are positive and happy get more shares, according to CoSchedule.
The anticipation of positive benefits and emotions make us want to share the content. When it comes to anticipation, our emotions play a big role.
People anticipate happy experiences, according to Unbounce. Make them positive.
3. Less is more
Be less wordy. Re-read them. Are there words you can cut? It’s important to chop down on the length of your headlines.
According to CoSchedule, the best length of a headline is 55 characters. That’s approximately 6 words. Take a minimalist approach.
Focus on what matters and delete the fluff.
4. Keep them simple
Don’t make your headline complicated. Get to the point. Strive for simplicity.
Your readers most likely are using their mobile devices so your headlines should be short and simple.
Sand it down.
- What’s the essence of your story?
- What are the key takeaways?
- Why should a reader care?
Put them in your headline. Use simple and clear language.
5. Be specific
When you are specific, you provide clarity to readers. People crave specificity. Being vague has no power. The more specific you are with your headline, the more likely it is going to be unique.
Readers want to know exactly what they are getting with your content. You can use your sub-headline and introductory paragraph to elaborate on your headline. Specificity is the number one way to get more clicks and readers.
6. Use numbers
When you use a number in a headline, you immediately hook the reader’s interest. Your readers will want to know that those [insert number] things are. Numbers make your story authoritative. A list is what our brain prefers to receive information.
Our brains like organization and structure. HubSpot analyzed their most shared blog posts. What did they find? A little less than half of their most shared posts contained a number in the headline.
7. Add a year
The HubSpot most-shared posts study mentioned earlier found that a majority of the most-shared posts contained either a year or number in the headline.
Years work because they know the content is up-to-date and relevant. It helps set the expectations so the reader knows exactly what they are getting.
8. Review popular stories on blogs and news sites
We can learn a lot from the mainstream media because they write a lot of headlines in a competitive media landscape. By reviewing their websites, look at all of the headlines and see which ones grab your attention.
Write them like those. Take a moment and find out what consciously and subconsciously attracted you to the headlines.
What are caught your interest?
9. Bookmark good headline templates
One of my favorite bookmarks is this article with formulas and templates. They work.
10. Pique their curiosity
Research shows curiosity increases with knowledge. The more we know, the more we want to know.
We seek out new knowledge to scratch the mental itch. Give your readers a little mystery. Arouse curiosity without creating spammy clickbait.
Bringing it all together
Hopefully these 10 tips will help you write mouth-wateringly good headlines. People often decide to read or ignore your story by reading only the headline.
David Ogilvy, the “Father of Advertising” suggested: 100 people will read a headline only 20 people will actually read your advert or story.
The right headline can make or break your story. Spend time on them. They are an essential tool to grow your readership. How welcoming are you?