5 great ways to create catchy headlines that go viral

The ultimate guide to writing catchy headlines for Blogs and emails. 

The ability to write headlines for your blogs and emails should be one of the most important tactics of your ongoing content marketing strategy, as both occupy and vie for attention in exceptionally competitive environments.

Let’s considers blogs first. The latest figures from WordPress – the world’s largest CMS – present what might be a terrifying sight for anyone hoping to get their articles noticed by the right people in today’s content-shocked world.

Catchy Headlines are important - Graph of How many people are reading blogs and How many posts are being published(Image source: wordpress.com)

As you can see, the figures, aside from a few spikes here and there, just go up and up and up. 80 million new posts are created each month, with more than 409 million people viewing them. And this is just on WordPress alone.

Making your blog content attention grabbing from the rest is no mean feat at all. Learning how to create a catchy headline implies a deep understanding on readers emotions. Whether you own an online business or a blog that focuses on "how to lose weight", great headlines will help you improve your Click-Through-Rates (CTR).


But what about the emails you send?

If you’re anything like us, your inbox will be positively inundated with tons of emails every single day. Newsletters, content offers, coupons, password resets, colleague and client correspondence, spam – there’s always plenty to be getting on with, most of which, we’d wager, you don’t bother to open. 

According to research from The Radicati Group, Inc., the total number of worldwide email accounts is expected to reach 4.9 billion by the end of 2017, and, from these, more than 205 billion emails are sent every day – a figure that will rise to 246 billion by 2019, according to Emia.com.

number-of-emails-sent(Image source: sydneydigitalmarketing.com.au)

Clearly, it’s the same story for everyone – emails are flooding inboxes the world over.

But what makes you open one?

Often, much like the fact that only a catchy headline will entice you to read a blog post, it’s only a suitably compelling subject line that will make you open an email

The Importance of Good Headlines

No matter how much time and effort you put into writing a sterling piece of content, at the end of the day, if they haven't got catchy titles, no one’s going to click on them. If they don't sound good enough to you, they are very likely not captivating enough. And the same goes for emails and subject lines.

Consider these figures from Quicksprout.

what-makes-a-catchy-headline(Image source: quicksprout.com)

If you’re promoting your blogs on social media (as you should be as part of your content marketing strategy), the plain fact of the matter is that the majority of your followers won’t actually be clicking through to read them.

However, 80% of them will be reading your headlines – even if only briefly as they scan quickly through their newsfeeds. This means that your headlines are extremely important – not only for generating clicks and conversion rates, but for slowly and surely raising brand awareness.

People will be constantly seeing your logo attached to an image and a headline – even if most won’t actually click through to the full article. Therefore, it’s important that they’re as punchy as possible. They also must instantly convey the core value of the content to the reader and excite them at a glance.

And the same is true for your email subject lines. 

5 Ways to Create Catchy Headlines and Subject Lines

1. Use Numbers

When it comes to blogs, list posts are very popular. Why? Because they immediately communicate the value of the post to a reader.

Take this very blog post, for example – even without reading the whole thing, you know just by glancing at the title that you’re going to get five top tips on crafting catchy headlines and subject lines. It’s clean, clear and simple. Yu know what’s in store and that the information will be genuinely useful. 

Sites like BuzzFeed have built their audiences on the backs of list posts – ’19 Young Adult Books Everyone Should Read, No Matter Their Age’, ’22 Slightly Depressing but Hilarious Tweets Literally Everyone Will Relate To’. You know the ones.

Using numbers in subject lines is also an effective email marketing practice. You might use numbers to refer to the blog title you’re promoting via email.

Use the email itself as ways to:

  • disseminate your top 5 tips
  • refer to the page length of the free eBook you’ve attached
  • make reference to the particular value of a discount or coupon
  • numerically display the benefit of a particular resource you’re providing – such as “Join 3,745 other subscribers to our marketing blog!”

2. Ask a Question

'Are You Using These 5 Great Hacks to Craft More Clickable Headlines and Subject Lines?’ could have been the title for this blog post (though it would have been in direct violation of point no. 3 below, mind you).

Asking the reader a direct question immediately engenders engagement. It involves the reader in the blog post or email message. It invites them to become active in a discussion, as opposed to remaining a passive consumer of what you have to say.

The same questions can work for both headlines and subject lines: ‘Are you making these 5 SEO mistakes?’; ‘Do you know what’s wrong with your website?’; ‘How much can you afford to lose?’

3. Keep it Short and Sweet

According to Quicksprout, the optimum length for a headline is six words.

That doesn’t give you a lot to play with. However, the number six is just approximate. The reasoning is that people tend to read the first and last three words of a headline only – so if there are six words, they’ll read them all. However, stretching a headline to nine or ten words is fine.

what-is-perfect-length-for-a-headline(Image source: quicksprout.com)

For emails, brevity is even more important – 40% of emails are opened on mobile, meaning that long subject lines simply won’t display in their entirety. The optimal reading length for email subject lines, according to CoSchedule, is just 20 characters.

4. Make those Adjectives Interesting, Entertaining, Fascinating, Killer, Cool, Appealing, Charming, Strange, Beautiful, Charming, Unique, Stimulating, Tempting, Catchy, and, if you can, Titillating!

Why? Because interesting words create interest – precisely the thing you’re trying to pique with your blog headlines and email subject lines.

What’s more, since you will be keeping things short and sweet, you have fewer words with which to make an impact. Therefore, choosing impactful words will redress the balance and make your headlines leap out.

5. Use a Headline Analyser

This is the digital age, so of course there are a number of free online tools you can use to write catchy headlines, email subject lines and improve your already existing headline formulas. This ensures you’re doing everything you can to make your content marketing strategy as strong as possible.

We highly recommend the CoSchedule headline analyser, which will help you optimise your blog post titles, email subject lines and even your social media messages to better engage with your target audience.

Simply copy and paste your headline into the search field and hit enter. You’re then presented with a breakdown of what’s working and what’s not with your headline – you’ll even be given a score out of 100.

The headline for this post scored 86 – not bad. As a rule of thumb aim for above 60, though of course, the higher the better.

How to write a catchy headline

Use a analyser to improve the headline

(Image source: coschedule.com)

Brilliantly, the CoSchedule headline analyser also shows you what your headline will look like in Google search . Everything you need to know, basically!

Using headline analyseer

(Image source: coschedule.com)

Over to You

Optimising your headlines and email subject lines are an essential, if too often overlooked, part of a successful content marketing strategy. In a content-shocked world, the simple fact of the matter is that most users won’t read posts in their entirety. Busy people don’t have the time to open all of the emails that come flooding into their inbox every day. However, concentrating on crafting catchy headlines and email subject lines can improve your success rates on both fronts, which will give your content marketing strategy a significant boost.

If you need help crafting catchy headlines and email subject lines, or are looking for advice on your content marketing strategy in general, get in touch with the inbound experts here at Incisive Edge today.



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