Let me start with saying I (think I) am not very good in writing headlines. I don’t know why. Maybe it has to do with the fact that English is not my native language.
I often see headlines that make me jealous. And many times I think I wish I had written that headline.
Let’s say writing great headlines is an art.
The Headline Fable
Some time ago Copyblogger Brian Clark – who writes great headlines – wrote in his post 5 Landing Page Mistakes that Crush Conversion Rates about the importance of headlines.
It’s your two-second chance to overcome the swift and brutal attention filters we’ve developed due to information overload and poorly-matched promises, says Brian.
He may be right about the filters due to information overload and – especially – poorly-matched promises. But I don’t think we need to get too nervous about these two seconds. If you are in the B2B marketing business I am sure you have more time than that.
In B2B – or at least in the technical B2B that I am active in, but it may well be valid for many more markets - people are much more focused on content than they are on headlines.
There is generally a high brand awareness and people often know what quality of content to find when they see your logo or read your company’s name in a link or above an article. That – and not the headline alone – makes them wanting to read or view your content.
Of course, a great headline may bring you a few extra readers, but you don’t depend on your headlines alone to get attention. People are prepared to give you a lot more than two seconds to decide whether they are interested in your content or not.
Much more important in this case is what Brian calls the poorly-matched promises.
Every day I come across highly promising headlines and in many cases the quality of the content turns out to be very disappointing. This works very counter-productive and the negative effects may well be much greater than when your headlines are not superb.
I have stopped following several businesses and people because of their great headlines and disappointing content.
Therefore I think all the attention that is given on the Internet to writing headlines is good, but we should much more worry about writing great content.
And do you know what is so nice? As soon as you have created great content it is much easier to produce a great headline.
So don’t break your head over a headline. A strong headline is great, but high quality content is much more important.