In today’s marketing environment, a handful of words can make or break your online communications strategy. We’ve officially entered into the era of clickbait and always judging a blog post by its cover. This means titles and headlines are one of, if not the most important part of constructing an effective piece of content to centre your efforts around.
Is the title too wordy? It will never fit in a 140-word tweet. Is it too bland and matter-of-fact? No one will click on it and land on our website. It’s not a list? How will anyone know if they have time to read it all?
These factors might seem downright silly, but they are based on very real thoughts that people have. In a world saturated with content, deciding which to look at and which to disregard means taking everything into account. Marketers need to understand what their audience is looking for and how to entice them to click on that blog post or follow a link to their video on YouTube. We’ve put together a few tips to get you started on the road to understanding your audience and developing better starters for your content.
If They Have A Problem, Offer A Solution
You need to know what will make your audience’s life better. They will prioritize content that adds value to their life over other mildly interesting information or purely fun pursuits. Once you know what problem they want solved, create content around that issue and tell them in the title, headline, tweet, etc., that this problem will be solved by your post.
For example, if you are creating content for an association, find out a problem your members are having and write a blog post about it or even find a third-party article and tweet about it. Create a headline or tweet that captures both the problem and the promise of a solution all in one. Your audience will recognize the opportunity to get some advice on an obstacle they have been facing and will be more willing to click on the link to your website, comment or share the post.
Time Is Money So Tell Them How Much They’re Spending
An audience, any audience, appreciates full disclosure and that includes telling them how long your content is going to take to read, watch, etc. If they know your video is short and sweet, they can watch it while they take a 10-minute break or at their lunch. If your blog post is 2,000 words and an in-depth profile of one of their colleagues in the industry, they might decide to bookmark it and read it after work. However, if they are unsure about the time it takes to consume the content, they might leave your website feeling jipped or give up after a few minutes and never return.
This dilemma can be solved with a few tweaks to your titles, headlines, posts, etc. First of all, lists are a great way tell people how long your content is. For example, if your title says, “5 Ways to Get Better At Your Job,” they may have time to read it here and now, but if it says “35 Ways to Get Better…” they might leave it until tonight. You can go a step further and do what some sites like Mashable are doing and add an approximate read time on the title. This will tell your audience exactly how long it will take them to read your blog post, article, etc. so they don’t waste time. They will appreciate this small service immensely.
Give Them A Challenge
I dare you; the three words that made any activity irresistible when you were a kid. In reality, this mindset doesn’t go away as you grow up. Everyone enjoys testing themselves, even if it’s a challenge that’s a little more cerebral than stuffing as many marshmallows in your mouth as you can. If the content you are creating warrants it, present the information as a challenge to your audience.
Injecting a little fun dare into your headline, title or post involves knowing what your audience will see as an invitation to test their know-how, wit or skills. For example, if you are creating an infographic about crazy facts and stories for fans of a particular pastime or sport, go ahead and create a title such as, “Check Out How Many Of These Crazy Hopscotch Facts You Know And See If You’re A True Fan.” This is a challenge for your audience to prove to themselves that they know everything there is about hopscotch and prove themselves worthy of calling themselves a fan. Sometimes a challenge is irresistible and this will lead to more clicks, views and engagement.
Speak Their Language
Each group of people, while it’s based on geography, age, occupation or other factors, has its own way of talking. Using the words and phrases in your content’s title that your target audience can relate to and uses in every day life is an important part of drawing their attention and keeping it. When they see language they use and understand, they feel more comfortable and confident that the content they are clicking on, reading, watching or participating in is legitimate and important to them.
To understand what language to use to draw your audience in, it’s important to mirror the words they use and the language that other popular communication outlets use in your industry or area of interest. Check to see what buzzwords are being used among your target audience in Twitter chats, Facebook statuses or the comment sections or articles or YouTube videos. Read professional trade magazines or popular websites that cater your target demographics. Lastly, review your past content and see which posts generated the most engagement. Use the language from these posts’ headlines and titles and create similarly effective content in the future.