How to Write Outrageously Enticing Headlines that Get More Clicks

Sarah McInerney

Head of Content

Sarah has almost three decades of experience in crafting compelling, engaging content specifically designed to boost sales and enhance brand loyalty. She’s also an expert in developing unique tone of voice that helps brands connect with their audiences. Her marketing and client service background has given Sarah a natural understanding of how to write content that makes readers take action. Whether it’s signing up to a mailing list, making an enquiry or donation or clicking the buy button, Sarah knows precisely how to convert with words. Pen down, Sarah is a proud member of the Essex Wildlife Trust and spends most of her free time enjoying inspiring walks through her local woodland and nature reserves, admiring everything that flaps, flutters and flowers.

How to write great headlines

In a previous blog, Emma shared some great advice on how to improve your organic click through rate. As one of the most important elements of the 2019 search strategy, boosting up that click through rate has got to be a major focus, and there were plenty of fantastic practical tips on doing this amongst Emma’s advice.

One of the core strategies suggested as a sure-fire way to CTR success was the use of alluring, emotive headlines. And this is what I’m going to delve deeper into now. But first, some important headline rules.

Headline rules

Headlines matter. They are the first thing people read; after all, without a headline, how would you ever know what the content is about?

And that’s one of the key things. The headline MUST be true to the content. Headlines that lure people in then fail to deliver are bad, bad things. They are known as clickbait, which is something no content writer worth their salt will ever use, or indeed need to use. Don’t tarnish your brand with grab-them headlines that break their promises.

The next headline rule is to make it work for your audience. I go a lot on tone when I’m choosing which of my search results to click on, and I know I’m not alone. If you’ve set tone guidelines for your brand (which I highly recommend), then you’ll need to stick to these when you write your headlines. YES you need to grab attention, but not the WRONG attention. Keep it on brand so you don’t offend your audience with language they’re not used to.

My last headline rule is to make sure, above all else, that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes in it. Yes, spelling and grammar matter, even with headlines. In fact, they matter more with headlines because they set an example for the rest of your content. Spelling mistakes are proven to negatively affect brand credibility and sales. So get those apostrophes in the right places and check and check again your spellings. Aim for nothing less than absolute perfection.

Now let’s look at crafting those ingenious headlines that will crank up your click through rate improvement campaign.

How to write great headlines

How to entice those all-important clicks with fabulous headlines…?

5 things to remember when crafting a click-through-friendly headline

So here we are: how to entice those all-important clicks with fabulous headlines.

1.     Get emotional

Emma touched on this in her CTR improvement blog. If you’re going to pull people in, you need to connect with them on an emotional level. Naturally the type and level of emotion depends on the content you are sharing, so obviously you’ll make it relevant.

To make it emotional, choose words that spark feeling. So for example if you are sharing something amusing, you might use ‘funny’ or ‘hilarious’.

Example: Cry with laughter at the 20 most HILARIOUS autocorrect fails of 2018

If it’s something that’s going to surprise your reader, use words like ‘astonishing’, ‘staggering’, ‘outrageous’, ‘shocking’ or ‘unexpected’.

Example: You’ll be ASTONISHED at the results of this latest survey

If you’re aiming to convince your readers that what you are sharing is really special, then words like ‘best’, ‘ingenious’ or ‘phenomenal’ are great choices.

Example: Revealed: The most ingenious smartphone yet

Bear in mind that you don’t always have to go all-out sensationalist just to grab attention, in fact if that sort of tone doesn’t suit your audience, then you’d be breaking our headline rules if you did. Even headlines with softer emotional words can work wonders for your click through rate.

how to write great headlines

Be soft or be sensational: but whatever you do, tone it to your audience

2.     Instil intrigue

If you study the examples above, you’ll see that all of them have used intrigue to compel readers to click to learn more. The first one promises a great laugh, so you’ll be intrigued to see what’s on the other end of the link. The second one promises to reveal some astonishing survey results. And the last one is promising to reveal something new and very special.

To create intrigue, use a teaser. Give a little something away and promise to reveal all on the other end of the click. Words and phrases like ‘revealed’, ‘exposed’, ‘disclosed’ and ‘look at…’ or ‘check out…’ all help to spark interest and captivate a reader.

3.     Make a promise

Higher click through rates are generally pretty much guaranteed from headlines that promise something. If someone knows what they are going to get from your content, they’ll be more inclined to click through to read it. Emma touched on this in her CTR blog and it’s top advice. So let’s combine telling people what they are going to get, along with promising something, like the answer to a question or a golden nugget of advice. Readers who believe they will be educated or enlightened by what they are about to read will be keen clickers.

Here are some examples of this combination technique:

How to achieve comfort AND style… our wedding shoe guide reveals all

10 steps to succeeding in retail business – download our infographic

Uncovered: This video proves it IS possible to save money at Christmas

4.     Make it specific

Did you notice in the examples just above that each of them mentions something specific? The first headline talks not just about shoes, but wedding shoes. The second one focuses on retail business, not simply business. And the last one talks about saving money at Christmas rather than just generally.

Making headlines specific is one of the best known ways of getting more clicks to your content. But you need to know your audience and what they consider useful to make this really work. And of course, it’s not just about being specific with your headline, your content needs to do this too! General content and general headlines are just – well – general. You need to be targeting specifics if you’re going to get those clicks.

5.     Test it!

And finally, test your headlines. Otherwise, how will you know what might have worked better?

A great way to test the effectiveness of a headline is to use social media. Post your content a few times with different leaders and see which performs best. You’ll see by engagement, re-posts and comments, but you can also use the analysis tools provided by the individual platforms and scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer.

There are also tools specifically designed to check headlines for various success factors.

The Advanced Marketing Institute provides a headline analysis tool that’s really easy and fantastic fun to use.

Just type in your headline and search category and in seconds you’ll have an Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) score based on the number of emotional marketing value words it contains. Professionally crafted headlines usually score 30-40 per cent with the top level specimens hitting 50-75%, although this can be fairly challenging to achieve even for a pro. You also get a predominant emotion classification which reveals the spheres that your headline appeals to so you can check that your headline is a good fit for your audience.

Let’s take one of our example headlines above and analyse it.

How to achieve comfort AND style… our wedding shoe guide reveals all

The EMV score is a pretty healthy 41.67 per cent, and the predominant emotion classifications are intellectual and spiritual. Intellectual impact words are great for audiences involved in the fields of education, law, medicine, politics and research for example, and spiritual impact words appeal more to women and children and those with interests in the likes of health and well-being. So we can use this information to make sure we’re on cue with our target audience.

So there you have it…

So, are you feeling more confident in crafting your own clickable headlines? I hope so! Hopefully you’ve picked up some useful tips from this post.

If you still feel you could use a little help with boosting your click through rate and getting more people landing on your website or blog or other online content, you can always talk to Figment – we’re here to help!

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