Skimming, #ABunchofStuffYouDon’tCareAbout, and Improving Headline Influence

billboardShort attention spans. Skimming. Your headlines need to be really good. KISSmetrics said viewers only pay attention to the first and last three words of your headlines and rarely bother to even skim the body copy. Here are headline marketing tips for small businesses:

So let’s talk about ethically stealing…

Your favorite brands and thought leaders are out there stealing content. Of course, I’m not talking about plagiarizing content, but repurposing and combining it. Thoughts have always been spurred on and altered by other thoughts. There are few unique ideas out there any more and you are actually wasting time if you aren’t looking at what other people are doing. Don’t reinvent the wheel with every post.

Mark Twain once said:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.”

If you’ve already embraced this fact, then you probably have a fairly smooth workflow and you call it inspiration. You should start this “inspiration” process by examining headlines and adapting the ones that are effective.

The ultimate headline formula just for you

Lenka Istvanova analyzed click habits and formulated a set of best-practices for increased engagement. Her formula looks like this:

headline_formula

Examples of this formula include posts like:

3 Foolproof Ways to Accurately Measure Website Performance

4 Actionable Ways to Build an Instagram Audience

5 Tips for Writing a Spectacular Press Release

Swap overused words for attention-getters

Remember to avoid the words that are generic or have been abused and lost much of their poignancy. Some of these words include:

  • Powerful
  • Leading
  • Best
  • Great
  • Awesome
  • Cool
  • Bad
  • Top

Words to consider utilizing would include those like:

  • Grand
  • Terrifying
  • Appalling
  • Peak
  • Potent
  • Primary
  • Horrific
  • Immense

Break it down to the miniscule

Reduce your headlines to the minimum and keep them interesting. Don’t use generic headlines or subheads that are splashed everywhere. You need to draw your audience in with headlines that are gripping and promise the important information you intend to pass on. Get specific with your headlines, and if they have to be long, try to keep the first three and last three words interesting even if your audience doesn’t read anything else.

Use the inverted pyramid

Your user isn’t spending a lot of time on your page unless something catches their eye. Remember most users will experience the page in this way:

Article Headline/Title and First Few Sentences

Sub Headlines Located Above Page Fold

Select Body Copy Content Details

Bullets or Set Apart Quotes

More Body Copy Details

More Quotes/Bullets

Guest Comments

Writer Bio

Links

At each level, you will likely lose readers, leaving a select few who make it all the way through. Make sure you keep your content valuable throughout, but put the most important content at the beginning to get your readers hooked early.

Writer Bio: Alethea M is a corporate blogging guru and freelance writer for WriterAccess. She loves pulling out interesting facts from article research to impress friends at dinner parties.


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