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Content Marketing 101:
The Almighty Headline

Published: January 19 2016

When it comes to blogs and newsletters, few things are as important as your headline or subject line. This small snippet of text directly impacts the success of your content and overall strategy; It is the elevator pitch that gets people eager for more.

A statistic from Copyblogger states that “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.” While that may sound crazy, it makes complete sense and the same general principle applies to your social media content too. If you aren’t immediately grabbed by an image, you will likely ignore it altogether.

David Ogilvy has been hailed as the “Father of Advertising” and in 1962, Time said that he was "the most sought-after wizard in today's advertising industry". This marketing mastermind was behind the campaign that told consumers “only Dove is one-quarter moisturizing cream”, helping the brand to become the top-selling soap in America. If David Ogilvy said that headlines are important, you know it's true.


<who>Photo Credit: Belief Agency</who>

David Ogilvy, the "Father of Advertising", knew a thing or two about crafting headlines. Photo Credit: QuotesGram.com


“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” -David Ogilvy

When it comes to headlines, it is best to keep it simple and to the point while piquing your reader’s curiosity. While you don’t want to be too over-the-top with buzzwords and extremes, you should add some excitement where possible.

If you are also using your blog for Search Engine Optimization purposes, and you should, you will want to keep your headline to 70 characters or less so that it will display nicely in Google. There are online “snippet optimizers” that you can use to help get an idea of just how long your title can be.

The following are examples of headlines that address the same topic and how each method works for the consumer.

5 Ways to Craft Snappy Headlines That Work!

The internet is full of numbered list articles these days and for good reason. People feel that they are busier than ever and our attention spans continue to shorten all the time. A list-based article tells me that it will be a quick and simple read. In the case of the article above, we tell the reader how much information to anticipate, what they will learn about, and that their time will be rewarded with an effective lesson. Plus, ‘snappy’ isn’t just fun to say, it’s also fun to read.

How to Write Headlines Without Headaches

When in doubt, a “How to” post is a solid choice for a headline and topic-starter. In this case, we are also getting in some important keywords for SEO, knowing that our clients are likely to search “how to write headlines” in Google. Of course, a little alliteration and wordplay never hurt either.


Easy Ways You Can Write Great Headlines Today

Do you know those people in life who make the things that they do look so effortless and easy? When you tell your readers that the information that they will receive will be easy for them to do themselves, you position yourself as one of those experts who just makes everything look effortless.

The Simple Guide to Headlines and How You Can Write Them

Offering people the option to learn about their subject of choice in a guide format is very appealing. It gives your readers the sense that this is going to be easy and that they will come out feeling like they’ve mastered the subject. After all, isn’t that why the “Dummies” series of big, yellow books is so popular?

3 Things That Make Your Headlines Suck (And Lose Business)

Ok, so some headlines are more sensational than others, but aren’t you just dying to know what other people are doing to make their headlines so bad? Maybe this headline feeds into your own concerns about your headlines and you want to check and see if you’re “on the list”. Either way, a negative headline catches people’s attention!

Pro-Tip: If there are particular keywords that you want your article to be found for, try to get them in closer to the beginning of your title.


More from the Content Marketing 101 Series:

Your Super Easy Crash Course 

What Makes Content Good?

What Makes Content Bad?

Who Is Your Ideal Customer?

A Picture Says 1,000 Words