I get a lot of people asking me about headlines. Getting a good headline isn’t hard but it does take work.
I’m getting a lot of practice with this skill. I’m contributing content at different financial news outlets with different audiences (Learnvest/women, SigFig/newbie investors, Wealthfront/Silicon Valley engineers), so it’s giving me a lot of practice experimenting what works — and what doesn’t.
This should go without saying but a lot of times we forget why we’re writing.
How we write — well, that’s about technique. But before we do anything, before we put pen to paper, we need to stay focused on our goals.
As a teenager, it became abundantly apparent to me that to win the affection of any girl, I needed to take baby steps. The courtship ritual is exactly what you’re trying to do with your content.
Your headline on your blog posts or articles is what gets users to click on the article to begin with. Without a good headline, no one’s reading your stuff.
That’s the sad, doggone truth but without a good headline, your content is dead in the water.
And the truth is, copywriters always say that the purpose of each line of your content is to get the reader to continue on to the next line.
I like that.
Here’s an amazing resource by the way — Headline Hacks. It’s written by Copyblogger’s editor John Morrow. I’ve mentioned Copyblogger (definitely put that one in your favorite links folder) a lot on AdvisorInsider and it’s a great resource to learn from masters of the copy arts how to just write darn good content.
Now, because we have compliance concerns and require some (a lot?) of integrity in our writing, we can’t create ludicrous, screaming, irresponsible headlines like in other industries.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t be creative and develop seductive content that leaves our readers/prospects wanting more from us.
Of course, numbered lists still work really well (though I’m getting tired of them).
Here’s what work best in terms of getting people to read — and share your content.
In email marketing, there’s something called the open rate. That the percentage of people who open your emails when you send them. You may or may not be surprised to know that financial emails rank as one of the lowest among all industries in the open rate.
Why? Because much of our content sucks.
It sucks because crazy greedy newsletter marketers ruined emailing for finance pros with sensationalistic BS content.
It sucks because so much of what we write is just bland drivel, spiced with jargon 99.99% of world doesn’t understand.
Think of your subject lines as the headlines of your emails. Your subject lines are what convince (or not) people on your email list to open your emails. They are what get you to first base.
Spend a couple of minutes crafting something that a live person would find interesting.
Mystique, numbered lists, and solving your readers problems work really well in subject lines.
From the UK’s online editor of The Times, this one shows the history of headlines and goes through actual steps how to get people to click or read an article.