The secret to irresistibly clickable headlines

Congratulations! For every 10 people that read the headline of this blog post, you’re one of 2 that clicked through to read it.

That’s right. A study by Copyblogger has revealed that although 8 out of 20 people read a headline, only 2 of 10 will click through to the article. It’s made even scarier when you realise that those 8 readers will only see the first 2 words of that headline as they scan read. Oh my days.

But wait. It gets worse. You see, back in 2015, the average attention span was just 8 seconds. That’s less than a goldfish. And we have smartphones to thank for this, so imagine how much lower it is now.

How in the heck are you going to grab someone’s attention in 8 seconds? Even if you manage to get it, how are you going to make them click?

Good job you’re mates with me, isn’t it?


Get emotional
This is a tactic we’ve discussed before on the jot jot boom blog, and for a good reason. It’s a known fact that people respond faster to an emotional stimulant than they do to a logical one. Using emotional words, like ‘hate’, ‘love’, ‘need’ in your headlines makes them instantly more magnetic than just stating the facts. Fact.


Communicate the benefit
Have you ever been sitting on the tube, innocently browsing your social feed when you came across an article that you simply couldn’t afford to miss out on? The things you’d learn from that piece of content merited an instant click-and-read response.

By telling your reader just what they’ll stand to gain from reading the article and how they can’t afford to miss out, you’ll be helping to create that same reaction in your own readers. Hell—if you make it valuable enough, people will be compelled to share it to their own social following, and before you know it, your humble blog post could be viral.


Different headlines for different platforms
Headlines are like shoes: you always need them, but some types are more appropriate than others in certain circumstances.

You wouldn’t use the same headline on Twitter as you would on LinkedIn. Your Facebook headlines shouldn’t be the same as your website headlines. The mindset your readers are in will differ depending on where they’re reading and you’ll need to adapt accordingly. If you’re on LinkedIn, you expect a more professional approach in the articles you’re being shown, whereas Facebook is more socially oriented.


Lock and (front)load
This is another tactic we’ve talked about before, but it works just as well for headline writing as it does for subject line writing.

Because we know that our readers are only going to be scanning the first couple of words, we need to make sure our best and most interesting words make it to the front of the headline.

If your blog post is about content, make sure that’s one of the words you’re using at the front. If your customers stand to gain a boost in revenue, make those two words your lead-in. Get those babies front and centre and let them do their work.


I may not be an advocate for animal testing, but I certainly am an advocate of content and email testing. CoSchedule and Optimizely are ideal for A/B testing the headlines on your site, and will help you figure out what kind of language really stimulates your customers to click.

You won’t only get a good insight into what they like to click on, you’ll also be able to see which topics interest them most—great for planning your future blog content.


Beware of clickbait headlines!
I know it can be incredibly tempting to take a leaf out of Buzzfeed’s book and clickbait the crap outta your headlines, but don’t.

Although there are great things to take away from this approach, such as emotional language and the element of storytelling, it’s also a fast track to the degradation of the quality of your work. The oversell and curiosity tactics clickbait headlines use will boost your clicks, but people will bounce when they hit the content, lowering your page dwell time and hurting your SEO rankings (and leaving you with a blog full of terrible content).

This kind of writing has a shelf life—don’t rely on gimmicks, put your faith in good quality content instead.

If you don’t think you’re quite up to the challenge of writing your own compellingly magnetic headlines just yet, jot me an email and I’ll take care of the whole messy business for you. You’re welcome.

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