Writing headlines is incredibly difficult! Not only are people’s attention spans growing shorter and shorter, they’re being hit from all directions with a staggering amount of constant information. So, if you want to have any hope in catching someone’s attention with your headline and encourage someone to actually click on your article, you’re going to have to have a plan set in place.
Where to begin?
One of the best ways to begin improving your own headline writing is to study great headline or post title copy of the top performing names in your industry. Study their social media post copy, their blog post titles, their sales pages, etc. Sign up for their email newsletters and study their auto-responses. Study the colors they choose, the words they bold, their flow and where the insert links to offers. Study how frequently they send you information and their contextual goals. Understand their strategies so you can use what works well and apply it to your own business.
To take this a step further, for really dialing in your copy, study these key influential brand’s tweets. The reason for this is because tweets must be brief, straight to the point, grab attention, and add a dash of their own unique flavor all in 140 characters or less. Practice writing this way and try to cut out all the non-essential fluff! It’s harder than it looks!
The 4 U’s
You may have heard of this simple formula for great copywriting. They’re referred to as the 4 U’s: Urgent, Unique, Useful, and Ultra-specific. The rule of thumb is to include as many of these as possible (Preferably all 4). Let’s take a quick glance at each.
For each U, we’ll be adding to this headline:
Basic Headline: “Get rid of bees”
This is one of the easier ones because hopefully you’re naturally going to describe the benefits of the content you’re providing anyway. Why else should visitors read it? However, this is arguably one of the most important of the 4. Your content can in fact be unique, urgent, and ultra-specific and yet not useful to anyone. The usefulness of your content is what’s going to compel you visitor to keep reading. Provide a solution to their problem with your specific benefits.
One of the easiest ways to add usefulness to your copy is provide a solution to a common problem. Tell them that you will hold their hand through the process and reveal the answer to their prayers. Don’t simply tell them that they need to get rid of bees and why. Show them how, by adding two little magical words, “How To.” You may be surprised how this simple change can make all the difference.
Useful: “How to get rid of bees”
Being unique is incredibly important because this is your real chance to stand out above the rest. There’s a good chance that there are similar articles covering a very similar or even the same topic you’re hoping to publish. So, you’ll need to be unique in order to differentiate yourself from the others. This is your chance to have fun with it and really get creative.
Unique: “How to get rid of bees using nothing more than a can of soda”
Instilling urgency means to give the reader a reason to click right away. It encourages the application to be able to achieve the promises that are made in a certain timeframe. Be sure to include some sort of timeframe so that your reader is encouraged to click now.
Urgency can be tricky, however, as if you come on too strong and maintain the urgency throughout your content, you may come across as too pushy or salesy. Think, “Act right now!” type of content as being salesy. Rather, instill urgency through accessibility and tangibility.
Urgency: “How to get rid of bees in less than 24 hours using nothing more than a can of soda”
There are plenty of tricks to try here and it’s up to your audience to tell you which ones work well and which ones fall on deaf ears. Out of the gate, one of the simplest ways to be ultra-specific is to use numbers. Unique numbers! I’ve seen this done in many ways ever since Buzzfeed started the trend, but gosh darn it! It just plain works!
Whether it’s a list of 11, 13.5, 32.1, or 146 ways to get rid of bees, specificity increases the mystery and just dares someone to click on your article. You don’t have to create a step-by-step how-to or a list post, but you can use numbers in ultra-specific ways by using odd, non-rounded numbers, decimal points, halves, or super long numbers. If you made $1,997.68 in 73 hours, don’t say you made $2,000 in 3 days. It may be impressive, but so are all the other 3 day, $2,000 posts. Get creative and test this U out to make your content more compelling.
Ultra-Specific: “How to get rid of 147 bees in less than 23.5 hours using nothing more than 3/4 can of soda”
Which would you rather read?
Just be sure to deliver on all the promises made in your title! Most importantly though, remember these 4 rules and you’ll be surprised how you’ll see results overnight! One thing I’ve found, however, is that it takes discipline. Writing a title may be the very first (or very last) thing you do quick before posting to your blog. But consider each of the 4 U’s before you hit publish! Spice it up a little because even though your content may be killer, you may never get to prove it unless others read it!
Print out the 4 U’s and stick them next to your work station. Set them as your laptop background! Do whatever it takes to make sure you get this in your head! The best part is that pretty soon you’ll naturally start to write this way. Practice!