How to Write Headlines That Get Your Brand What It Wants [Checklist]

How to Write Headlines That Get Your Brand What It Wants [Checklist]

But the sentiment of counting headlines should live on: Writing a headline that best fits its environment is what makes a great headline. Identify your brand’s purpose(s) for the content In content marketing, every piece of content serves a purpose for your company. That’s a good step for creating content but not for writing a headline. Instead, recall your brand’s purpose for the content (Step 1) – that often leads you to identify a more niche audience than your standard persona or target audience. The marketing purpose of the article is to get e-newsletter recipients to click on it. Now, if the article’s primary marketing purpose was SEO, the audience would be people seeking information on the topic who may not be familiar with your brand. Understand why someone would consume this content Think about how the content will be viewed – what headline will make this content attract readers? Pack a punch A powerful headline includes: Active verbs Concise language Blend of familiar and unexpected words Clear benefit for intended audience Going back to the example for HR managers about reducing turnover, look at these two headlines: The first headline is strong. What do you think the content is about? To get it right, it helps to define your marketing reason for the content, your intended audience, and the unique reason its members want to read this particular content.

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Before widespread use of personal computers in newsrooms, crafting a good headline demanded a specific skill: counting.

Each letter had a standard value. Most lowercase letters counted as one; but skinny letters (f, l, i, t, j) counted as one-half, and fat letters (m, w) counted as two. Uppercase values increased by one-half. Designers identified the space available for the headline based on column widths, number of lines, and point size. Copy editors then created the best headline to fit the space.

Today, counting headlines seems like an antiquated skill because you can delete and revise on-screen with the simple tapping of the keys. But the sentiment of counting headlines should live on: Writing a headline that best fits its environment is what makes a great headline.

How can you do that? Follow this seven-point checklist.

1. Identify your brand’s purpose(s) for the content

In content marketing, every piece of content serves a purpose for your company. The content may exist to:

  • Increase brand visibility (and clicks) on search engine results pages
  • Improve SEO for targeted keywords
  • Entice someone to open an email
  • Get someone to click on it in an e-newsletter
  • Encourage a website visitor to read further

If you have more than one reason, that’s OK. Pick the most important one, then craft the headline (and URL) around it. And, if your process allows you to use different headlines for secondary and tertiary purposes, write those, too.

2. Detail the audience for the piece

While your content could be seen by anybody and everybody, who do you really want to see it?

If your first instinct is to refer to your personas, resist it. That’s a good step for creating content but not for writing a headline. Instead, recall your brand’s purpose for the content (Step 1) – that often leads you to identify a more niche audience than your standard persona or target audience.

For example, let’s say your target audience is human resource managers in manufacturing. Your article about how to reduce turnover by plant workers speaks to that group. That’s a good (and necessary) start.

The marketing purpose of the article is to get e-newsletter recipients to click on it. Thus, your headline should fit that format and speak to people who have subscribed to your content (they have a general expectation of what type of content you provide). While the topic is relevant to them, they may or may not be interested in it at this time. Therefore, you craft an enticing headline focused on how the content could benefit the reader and add a curiosity factor: Find Out 3 Surprising Ways to Be More Effective in Your Job.

Now, if the article’s primary marketing purpose was SEO, the audience would be people seeking information on the topic who may not be familiar with your brand. The SEO-focused headline for that same content would speak to audience and industry: How HR Managers Can Reduce Turnover Rates in Manufacturing Plants.

By connecting your audience and your brand’s purpose for the content, you are well-positioned to craft a headline that achieves your goals.

3. Understand why someone would consume this content

Think about how the content will be viewed – what headline will make this content attract readers?

At this step, your goal isn’t necessarily to explain the purpose of the content – it’s to explain the unique attributes of the content. Look to the

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