The Secret to Writing Headlines That Work

If you want people to pay attention to your message in this crowded, crowded world we live in, you must master the art of the headline. Plain and simple.

To help you do that, I’ve compiled a list of several recent articles from sources like CopyBlogger and The Daily Egg that do a GREAT job of helping you write better headlines.

But before you dive into all these great resources, I want to ask you one big overarching question:

What do you want your headline to DO?

That might sound on the surface like a stupidly simple question. But try answering it. Specifically. You’ll see it quickly gets a bit more complex.

Do you want your headline to:

  • Cause your reader to read the next paragraph? (This is the old standby answer, from the days when most copy was at least a page long)
  • Get your reader to click on a link (or open the email) so that they can find out more?
  • Or the new one – in our social-centric world – do you most of all just want people to share your content?

To illustrate how these 3 options are not at all the same thing, let me show you an example I came across in one of the articles I’m recommending you check out: How to Perform an A/B Test on Headlines, Tweets, Emails and More

In this post, Kevan Lee of BufferSocial showed the results from 2 different headlines he ran on Twitter: (click on the images to see a quick popup that’s full size & less blurry)

click stats for Twitter headline test A

Twitter Headline test B - Buffer Blog

Both headlines went to the same article, so the purpose of running them both was to test which headline was better.

Kevan declared the SECOND tweet to be the winner – since it did far better in terms of Retweets (61 to 42), Favorites (51 to 34) and Mentions (10 to 4).

But look at the number of clicks each headline got. The first headline got almost twice as many as the second one!! Meaning, the first headline got people to actually READ the article twice as often.

So was the first tweet perhaps the real “winner?”

To answer that, we must have a clear objective for our tweets and headlines.

The second tweet was more successful at getting people to share the love. We know that because retweets, favorites and mentions are all metrics of sharing behavior.

But the first tweet was more successful at getting people to read the article! We know that because clicks are a metric of consuming behavior.

So what do you hope to accomplish with your headlines? Do you want people to read your stuff, or just pass it on?

In other words, do you want your headline to pass through as many digital hands as possible, before it runs out of steam?

Or do you want the people to see it to engage with you? Become curious … click your link … read more about what you have to say?

I hope that you’re not just in the business of creating more noise in the marketplace; but that your goal is to actually touch people and begin to affect change in their lives.

With that question posed, here are some great articles about how to write better headlines:

From Kevan Lee at BufferSocial: 30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Post, Articles & Emails

From Sherice Jacob at The Daily Egg: Steal These 15 Proven Headline Formulas for Your Next Blog Post or Landing Page 

From Brian Clark at CopyBlogger: 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work

From Joanna Wiebe at UnBounce: 5 Landing Page Headline Formulas You Can Test Today

From KissMetrics: Can You Write a Better Headline Than This? Not Using Old Headline Formulas You Can’t






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