I know you’re working overtime to get more folks to pay attention to what you have to say. You want them to listen to you. You want them to volunteer with you. You want them to attend your events. You want them to support you. Where do you begin?
Get them to notice you! In How to Write an Irresistible Headline on the Convince and Convert blog you’ll learn how. I commend the full article to you. For me, here are the highlights:
1. Headlines with 8 words do 21% better than average.
2. Using a hyphen or colon will boost click-throughs by 9%.
3. Thumbnails and images boost clicks by 27%.
4. List posts do better. Odd-numbered posts do 20% than even-numbered posts. (“10” is an exception to this rule).
5. Headlines ending with a question mark do better, especially if they reference the reader with “you” or “your,” as opposed to rhetorical or other types of questions.
6. Headlines that end with three exclamation points get twice as many clicks as headlines with any other punctuation!!! Obviously, you can do overdo this, but if you’re going to use an exclamation point, you might as well use three instead of one!!!
7. Use of violent words boosts opens, even where the topic isn’t about violence (e.g., “kill,” “fear,” “dark,” “bleeding,” and “war”).
8. Use of negative words boosts opens(e.g., “without,” “no,” “stop,” “never” and “worst”). We know from research studies that people fear loss more than they value gain, so if you frame your outcome as avoiding a loss instead of gaining something you’ll get more notice.
9. Guides perform well (e.g. “introduction,” “beginner’s guide,” “in 5 minutes,” and “DIY”).
10. Piggybacking on big brands and hot topics helps, even when only using those brands or topics metaphorically to make a comparison with something very different.
11. Other words that help are: smart, surprising, science, history, hacks/hacking/hackers, huge/big, and
12. Words that hurt are: announcing, wins, celebrates, and
Some general rules:
13. Don’t give it all away in the headline. Elicit some curiosity.
14. Use emotion.
15. Use action words (i.e., adverbs and verbs trump nouns and adjectives).
16. People love stories and “how to” posts.
17. Landing page headlines are different; many of the rules above don’t apply.
Re #17, posts written to create interest and awareness are different than those written to generate sales (or donations). So if you write landing page headlines the same way you write blog post headlines it may backfire. With landing pages, people are looking for something specific. They don’t want something clever that forces them to think. They want to get down to business. So asking a question like “Want to donate?” would not perform as well as “Donate here now.” Also, suggesting loss avoidance like “Don’t lose out on tax benefits” would not perform as well as “Make your year-end tax-deductible gift.” On landing pages you want to make the benefit to the reader clear.
Three other basic rules you’ll want to keep in mind: (1) Don’t lie or mislead; (2) Don’t be so clever the reader can’t tell what the post will be about, and (3) Focus on answering your constituents’ questions; not worrying about key words that may cause you to contort your headline into something dull, formal or unnatural.
Bottom line: Think about your goal before you write your headline. Then write a headline that will help your reader (1) learn something new about something they care about; (2) get a benefit they’ll enjoy, or (3) get down to business. Think about whether they’ll likely find you through serendipitous discovery or goal-oriented search; then write accordingly.
Happy headline hunting!
P.S. Check out my title for this blog post. Can you tell which rules I followed? [Hint: I count seven].
Beyond the Headline: Get Great Content!
You may be interested in my Nonprofit Blogging That Drives Engagement Playbook. I’ve taken everything I’ve learned about blogging and engaging nonprofit communications and tucked it into 4 handy no-nonsense guides to help you become a “player” in the blogosphere. Check ’em all out, or get the “Bargain Bundle” here. I promise you’ll learn a lot of useful stuff — or your money back. I guarantee it. In fact, if you don’t find something you can use right away, I’ll make a donation to your nonprofit!
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net