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Write Headlines Like a Boss – 6 Free Tools to Attract Readers

May 24, 2017
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write headlines attract readers.png 

Have you ever written an article title and felt like something was missing? Like it needed to be jazzed up a bit? That happens to me all the time. I often use a working title and by the time the article is finished, my creative juices are dried up and the headline doesn't get the love it deserves. 

If I’m feeling this way about my headlines, I’m positive that our readers aren’t giving them any notice. Honestly, if I want to write headlines like a boss, I need to step up my game.

We all face a deluge of information daily. What is it that makes us stop scrolling and click on an article, giving away our precious time and attention? A study by Conductor found that are are 5 main types of article headlines:

  • Normal (Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)
  • Question (What are Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful?)
  • How to (How to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)
  • Number (30 Ways To Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)
  • Reader-Addressing (Ways You Need to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)

(Source:  5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click)

Number posts attracted readers most, followed by Reader-Addressing posts. It’s also interesting to note that 51% of respondents preferred titles with 0 to 1 superlatives (such as “best,” “ever,” and “perfect”). The results of the study made it clear that readers want us to get right to the point and they want to know what to expect after they click. Readers tend to click on titles that leave little ambiguity about the content they are about to read.  

I recently wrote an article titled Where to Find Free Online Digital Marketing Training. When I wrote the title, I strictly used keywords in a phrase that I thought our target audience would be searching for. There was no other analysis that went into creating that title.

As I try to improve my own content marketing skills, however, I want to get better at creating compelling headlines that increase conversions. There are several headline analysis tools on the web and I had used them sporadically for my own articles and for our clients’ content. But I had never really taken the time to compare tools and their results.

After reading this quote from the father of advertising, David Ogilvy, I knew I needed to do better.

“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.”

If better headlines means more readers, more subscribers, and more customers, I need to constantly improve my headlines. Armed with new information about the best headlines to attract readers, I decided to chronicle my headline analysis in order to help our readers and our SMA content team.

Here are the 6 Headline Tools To Attract Readers

 

CoSchedule

I started with CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer because their tool gives a breakdown of the word balance, type of headline, a preview of what it would look like on the SERP, what it would look like in an email subject line preview, and how readers will scan it for keywords.

Here are the results of my original headline, “Where to Find Free Online Digital Marketing Training.” Coschedule classified it as “Generic.” Yikes!

coschedule headline analyzer.png

Changing the title to Free Online Digital Marketing Training That Every Marketer Needs improved my score, but it was still generic and lacked emotion.

coschedule headline analyzer 2.png

Now it became a game and I was determined to win! I changed it again to Free Digital Marketing Training That Will Supercharge Your Skills. Although still generic, it has more emotion so it’s an improvement.

coschedule headline analyzer 3.png

Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Headline Analyzer

Time to move on to another tool. Advanced Marketing Institute has an Emotional Headline Analyzer, so I decided to give it a try. According to this analysis, the emotional value of the headline was higher than that of most professional copywriters. I’ll take it.

ami headline analyzer.png

Blogabout and Inbound Now

I continued my search for headline generator tools and stumbled upon Blogabout’s Blog Title Generator and Inbound Now’s Blog Title Idea Generator. They don’t analyze a given headline. Instead, they give you ideas in which you can insert your keywords to create compelling titles. Clicking through the various ideas, I came up with these.

blogabout headline prompts.png

Inbound Now headline tool.png

Playing off of the “How to Recover From…” idea, I went back to the Coschedule tool and changed the headline to How to Overcome a Lack of Digital Marketing Skills. Bingo! My score increased to 76 and the headline was now a How To instead of a Generic title.

coschedule headline analyzer 4.png

Sharethrough

The next tool I tried was Sharethrough. The tool provides a headline quality score based on Behavior Model Theory and Sharethrough’s neuroscience and advertising research. Here’s how my new headline fared.

sharethrough 1.pngsharethrough 2.png

Using the suggestions offered, I further refined my title and changed it to Supercharge Your Digital Marketing Career: How to Learn These 5 Crucial Skills for Free and my score finally reached “Above Average” status.

sharethrough 3.png

I took the new and improved title back to Coschedule to see how it would rank in their tool. My score decreased in the Coschedule tool! It’s interesting how the two tools use different criteria to rank headlines.

coschedule headline analyzer 5.png

Portent’s Content Idea Generator

I was narrowing in on the best headline but I wanted to check one of my favorite tools just for fun. I enjoy using Portent’s Content Idea Generator for some off-the-wall inspiration. This tool is a little wacky but it’ll give you some ideas that will help you overcome writer’s block and inject some personality into your title.

portent idea generator.png

The New Improved Headline

Having done all of these evaluations, I’m satisfied with the new title of How to Overcome a Lack of Digital Marketing Skills. For social promotion it’s more compelling than the original, Where to Find Free Online Digital Marketing Training.

So, how am I going to use this new title? I decided not to go back and change the title of the blog post for the simple fact that it’s doing well in search results. I originally created the title based on how I thought users would search for the answer to the problem I was solving, which is: Where to find online digital marketing training. My article is appearing on the first page of the SERPs in 3 spots: one is the original post and two are reposts from Business 2 Community users.

SERP of where to find free online digital marketing training.png

I’m going to use my new title, How to Overcome a Lack of Digital Marketing Skills in social promotions of my article. Since it’s more compelling and emotional, yet still contains the keywords Digital Marketing Skills and promises to answer users’ questions about where to get those skills, it may result in more engagement on our social channels.

This was a good exercise in using several different headline analysis tools to fine-tune a topic and headline. I’ll be using this process when creating content for our clients and for future SMA blog articles. It takes a bit of time, but going back to what David Ogilvy said, it’s well-worth the investment if it results in greater exposure for our content.

What headline analysis tools do you use? We’d love to hear your suggestions. We’re always looking to improve the way we create content and will be sure to give your ideas a try.

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Rhonda Bavaro

By Rhonda Bavaro

As an Inbound Marketing Strategist for Shelley Media Arts, Rhonda helps our clients grow their audience through content marketing. A self-professed grammar geek and word nerd, Rhonda enjoys writing about social media, productivity, and remote work. Working from her home office in Queens, NY, she is an enthusiastic evangelist for the virtual office lifestyle.

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