6 Content Marketing Headline Hacks that Bring in Traffic

  In Content Marketing

Content Marketing Headline

What’s in a headline?

Plenty. On average, 8 out of 10 people read your headline copy. Only 2 read the rest of your content.

You’re probably guilty of this yourself. Think back to the number of times you’ve clicked on a story in your Facebook feed just because it had an interesting headline.

As advertising legend David Ogilvy once said:

“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.”

Improving your headlines is one of the best content marketing headline tips you can follow. A strong headline can make a good article great, a weak article good. Not only do you attract an audience, but you commence a conversation at the beginning of the buyer’s journey.

In this post, we’ll take a look at six content marketing tips for creating headlines that can are virtually guaranteed to work.

  1. Disclose a Secret

Telling people that you’re going to share hidden knowledge is one of the easiest way to grab their attention. After all, who doesn’t love being in on a secret?

For example, take a look at this Buzzfeed post that got a whopping 123,000+ shares:

Buzzfeed

 

 

This headline does three things:

  • It invokes curiosity by promising to share secret tips.
  • It offers insider information, supposedly from Amazon
  • It promises savings. The reader assumes that these secret tips will help him save money.

You’ll see such headlines all over the internet. They might be overused, but they still work. Focus on using words like secret, hidden truth, conspiracy, etc.

Try something like this:

  • The Secret to Getting Massive Traffic from Google
  • 5 Secrets Amazon Doesn’t Want You to Know
  • 7 Secret Habits of Successful People
  1. Offer a Warning

While disclosing secrets is wonderful, you can reach an even bigger audience by warning them of a threat.

For example, check out this post from The Huffington Post:

The-Huffington-Post

 

 

 

 

It received a total of 183k shares on Facebook alone.

Why does this headline work? Two reasons:

  • It invokes a threat. Your readers’ ears will perk up when they feel there is a threat around. The same tactic is used by horror movies and news channels to keep viewers engaged.
  • It offers help. “Could you be in an abusive relationship? Click here to find out”

The key to writing such headlines is to pose as a friend who is helping the reader avoid a potential catastrophe. Words like warning signs, trust, dangers, lies work really well in such headlines.

Some sample headlines:

  • 5 Lies You Believe About College
  • The Shocking Truth About Weight Loss
  • Are You in Danger of Losing Your Investments?
  1. The Simple How-To

“How to Win Friends and Influence People”

“How to Lie with Statistics”

“The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make Big Differences”

These are all titles of some wildly successful books. They all have one thing in common – “How to” in the titles.

A simple how-to headline is nearly foolproof. It tells people exactly what your article is about. It doesn’t beat around the bush, doesn’t try to be “cute” or threatening. It just plain works.

Try these out:

  • How to Get Traffic from Social Media
  • How to Get Traffic Even if You Don’t Know a Thing About SEO
  • How to Be More Friendly
  • How to Be Productive While You’re Working
  1. Use the Curiosity Gap

You might have seen headlines like this in your Facebook feed recently:

 

Facebook

 

 

 

This headline promises that once you know what sunscreen does to your face, it might shock you. It doesn’t tell you the exact facts; it just tells you that there is a shocking revelation ahead, provided you click the link.

This is a classic example of the curiosity gap. This is when the headline writer offers a preview, but holds off on the punchline. It is one content marketing headline tip that works in nearly all industries, particularly in B2C.

Curiosity gap works exceptionally well on social media. People click through just to know what’s on the other side. Combine it with a nice teaser image (see below) and you will see big results.

car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just be careful of overdoing it though. Unless you actually deliver on the curiosity, your readers just might start distrusting you.

For inspiration, check out the headlines on Upworthy.com

  1. Point Out Mistakes

Your readers are afraid of making mistakes. They are afraid that they are doing something wrong, and that this is costing them money, time or social embarrassment.

When you offer to point out and fix these mistakes, they are obviously intrigued.

Here’s an example from The Huffington Post:

The-Huffington-Post

 

 

 

This headline works because it points out a common practice, and argues how it is a mistake.

For such “mistake” focused headlines, you have to play on the reader’s fears that they are making an error. You also have to be vague enough so that people actually click through to the article.

Here are a few headlines for inspiration:

  • Do You Make These 7 Fatal English Mistakes?
  • 5 Common Spelling Mistakes that Destroy Your Credibility
  • 5 Cooking Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making
  1. Leverage an Existing Success

Now this a trend that isn’t often used, but can be extremely successful when well targeted. Essentially, you piggyback on an existing business, person or cultural trope that has proven to be successful.

For example:

  • How to Write Like Stephen King
  • 7 Lessons in Brand Marketing from Coca-Cola
  • What Steven Spielberg Can Teach You About Movie Making

The idea is simple: identify something that is already successful in your market, and use that as a base for the headline. That is, instead of writing “How to Write Better”, you can leverage Stephen King’s popularity by using a headline like “How to Write Like Stephen King”.

This way, you have an instant connection with your readers. People know and love Stephen King, so when you tell them how to write like him, they obviously take notice.

Here’s a real-world example:

LifeHack

 

 

 

 

You can do this for any well-loved celebrity, business or trend. Take a look at the headlines below for some inspiration;

  • Work Like Google: 7 Lessons in Productivity from the Tech Giant
  • Warren Buffett’s Top Ten Tips for Investing
  • The Stephen King Guide to Telling Stories
  • What NBA Players Can Teach us About Fitness

When it comes to headlines, the more you practice, the better results you’ll get. Try writing multiple headlines for every article until you get something that is succinct, readable and has viral potential. Use the hacks listed above to make this process easier.

Which of these content marketing tips have you followed when writing headlines? Tell us in the comments below.

mike@marccx.com
Michael Peggs is the founder of Marccx Media, a digital marketing agency specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships in the United States and Asia. He is also a contributor to The Huffington Post, FastCompany and Business Insider as well as and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy Podcast You University.
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