Headline: 15 Techniques to Increase Clicks, Shares and Conversions

It is often said that you shouldn't judge a person by their first impression.While this may be true for social relations in the real world, in the virtual world of the websites the exact opposite is ever true.

Average, 8 out of 10 people will judge the site by first impressionsand as the first thing we see of a person is the head, so the first impression on your website is given by the headlinewhat in journalistic parlance is called headline.

Why you can't neglect the headline: 3 statistics

To understand the power that the headline has in the context of your website, just know that, according to statistics:

But let's start at the beginning with the obvious question: what is the headline?

What is a Headline?

When a visitor comes to your site, is looking for meet a needThat's right, isn't it?

Good, the headline is the phrase that tells you what need your product or service wants to satisfy.

Whether you want to write an article, a landing page or a simple headline in an advertisement, writing an effective headline is essential to reduce the number of visitors leaving your site, increase the CTRshares and conversions. 

The headline, or title, is the first impression of your story, of what you have to say.

It's the classic business card that you give to the new business contact you just met. All it takes is one look. If he likes it, he'll stay and look at it for a few seconds and try to memorize the information you wrote above. Maybe, add a comment like "cute this business card!"

If you're lucky (but more importantly, if you've used the basic rules to capture attention) the contact will call you back and you can strike a good deal with him.

Otherwise, your business card will end up who knows where, among other cards of partners and suppliers never contacted again. In the worst case, in the garbage can.

Technically, different types of business writing have different ways of defining the headline. Mostly because of technical issues, fonts available, SPAM terms to avoid, etc. The subject line of an email differs from the headline of a web page.

But there is a feature that these marketing elements have in common: they must be compelling or your content will be ignored.

Title, subject, headline, all answer the same question the reader is asking: "Am I interested in hearing about this?

For convenience, I'll refer to the headline as if I'm talking about all those parts of introductory text that the reader reads for the first time about your digital content. The job of a headline is to "sell your story" and make it clear what it's about. 

It needs to provide the reader with the context of the content, help them decide if it's worth spending those 3, 5, 10 minutes of their precious time. To make that decision, the reader needs to know what the story is about and why it's so compelling to them at that moment.

Yeah, it might seem more like astral alignment than a certified mathematical formula. But if you try to adhere to at least these basic rules, you're sure to have done your best to ensure that the reader has all the information at their disposal to freely and comfortably choose to enrich their day with your article, your newsletter, your social post or your ultimate guide to learning to fish like a pro.

The general principle of persuasion of a headline

The persuasive writing it's a great legend.

You'll find thousands of articles explaining how to be absolutely convincing and get even the laziest of web users to read you. But you have to know that touching the right decision-making strings, knowing how to sell a product or a service without the reader realizing he has clicked the "buy" button, is an art not a science.

As mentioned above, you could put into practice all the most effective techniques tested and guaranteed by top online and offline marketers and communicators. But sometimes your message arrives to the recipient at a time when he doesn't really want to know to get in touch with your content.

So remember, persuasion is not a science. You're going to have to work with testing and analysis on open rates and engagement rate. This is another basic principle on which the effectiveness of a headline is based.

The next time you sit down at your computer to think of the right title for your blog post or email subject line, avoid asking yourself the trap question that all web writers ask themselves: "Well, what's my content about?

Instead, follow these guidelines to make your headline more appealing to the reader.

15 Headline Techniques

Here are the two basic rules to remember when coming up with and writing headlines, titles and subject lines for your web content:

  1. Try to be as brief as possible

The shorter the sentence, the more catchy and easy to remember it will be.

You can take inspiration from your Twitter or Facebook news feed, some ATL ad campaigns, or pay attention to the pages or covers of your favorite magazines.

  1. Be direct.

Your story is competing with the many others the user finds themselves browsing on the web. Be upfront about what you've decided to tell your audience.

We live in an age where there is a veritable media jungle. It's called infodemia. Every day we are subjected to a bombardment of images, articles, news, emails and advertisements. That's communication today, baby.

What are the characteristics of a headline that converts? A study carried out by Conductor and published on Moz, 5 data insights into the headlines readers clickLet's see them together.

#1: Lists, numbers and figures in the headline generate...

More clicks

The first fact is clear: the most clicked headline has figures, numbers in it, such as:

the 30 best tools for creating headlines that convert

3 headline strategies to increase sharing of your 300% articles

More shares

The creation of headlines in list form (called "listicles") not only wins the ranking of the best methods to create a headline with the 36% of preferences, but listicles are also able to increase article sharesas evidenced by a research conducted by Buzzstream on 220,000 pieces of content:

buzzstream headline lists

More conversions

And that's not all: using numbers and figures in your headlines doesn't just generate more clicks and shares, it also generates more conversions: according to theA/B testing accomplished by Highrise, the headline with a number in it was able to generate a conversion rate of 30% higher to the one without:

Writing Decisions Headline tests on the Highrise signup page - Signal v. Noise

Because the Listicles work?

We could give 2 Responses to this question:

  1. People are looking for ways to increase their efficiency: numbers are an effective tool to satisfy this need;
  2. numbers are an effective, direct and concise way of giving the reader a series of ideas, of answers around a problem, giving the possibility of choice and at the same time limiting the excess, that is the known paradox of choice.

How to create effective Listicles

Here are 4 tips:

  • use non-round numbers: rather than "the 10 strategies for writing effective headlines" you could write "the 9 strategies" or "the 11";
  • The higher the number, the more striking the attention... of the reader because it means a greater quantity;
  • uses numbers in figures, rather than letters;
  • matches the digits with appropriate terms, such as ways, tips, secrets, tricks, ideas, techniques, statistics, e.g. "11 reasons your headline doesn't convert" or "17 ways to write effective headlines".

The numbers hide a magnetic power undeniable. It is scientifically proven that our mind, when decoding a sentence or a series of words, pauses to interpret symbols and shapes that differ in the language used.

The brain will have to understand how to place that number within the message.

Try this experiment. When you go to a newsstand, supermarket or gas station, take a look at the magazines you find near the cash register. Read the headlines. It doesn't matter if you're looking at a fitness magazine, a hunting magazine, or a magazine for video game enthusiasts. Many of these will use the numbers as a hook for the headlines.

I don't think the formula for which numbers work more than others has been discovered yet. Even, odd, natural, relative, algebraic. Theories about numbers to use in a business text say that in a bullet point, you mostly remember what is at the beginning and end of the list if it contains more than 5 bullet points.

But having said that, sometimes a really insignificant number like 17 or 29 can grab people's attention.

#2 Speak to your partner

When you write a headline, you're writing it for a person who will read it, so why not address them directly? It's not for nothing that the second best way to write a Conductor headline is "YOU", such as "why you need a good headline."

#3 Use "How"

Successful headlines are often in the "how to" form, e.g. "how to write effective headlines".

Try writing "How to" in front of your headline.

So many blog posts try to teach the reader something new. Instead of grabbing attention with an antiquated gerund or the usual infinitive verb form, anticipate the user what exactly will you learne. The "how" is a great word to start a headline or title with because it is focused on the reader and what they will learn from your content.

To give an example. Doesn't "Designing logos with Illustrator" sound a little too boring? How are your feelings if we turn it into "How to design logos with Illustrator". It's not the best but it's improved, right?

#4 Ask a question

The question stimulates the brain for an answer, which the visitor will find in the rest of your content. That's why questions are used in headlines and, for example, in the titles of ads in Google Ads.

# 5 Use the right words


As overused a word as it may be, using the term "free" in your headline can prove to be an effective technique, because Reduces the risk and commitment that the user perceives in deciding whether or not to try your product or service (reduced costs and a money back guarantee work in a similar way).

The typical case of use of this technique is well known: you will certainly have happened to use a software in the version "free trial": this technique, along with the use of the number, allowed Highrise to increase its 30% conversion rate as we saw above.

Make it big.

In your headline you can use terms like best, ever, perfect, ultimate for example:

Headline: the ultimate guide

Be careful not to overdo it, though: according to Conductor's statistics, Tolerance of "big talk" headlines is limited to 1-2 terms, although 25% of users are attracted to extreme headlines as "the 27 best e most effective ways ever read to create a perfect headline":

superlatives headline

#6 Are you writing to her or him?

When writing a headline, it's important to know whether it's intended for a predominantly female or male target audience.

Second Conductor,

  • female readers are more likely to appreciate headlines containing numbers and figures and those beginning with "like";
  • The other ways of writing a headline, such as addressing the reader directly, using the "how", or creating a headline in the form of a question, are almost equally popular with both sexes.
headline male female

# 7 Compare

When writing a headline, you could make a direct comparison with your competition.

For example, the software KissMetric Increased 40% Conversion Rate simply by comparing it to Google Analytics with a simple sentence: 

"Google Analytics tells you what happened, KISSmetrics tells you who did it."

kiss metrics headline

# 8 Be consistent with your advertising campaign

Often your headline will appear on a landing page: well, the traffic that will arrive on your landing page will probably come from an advertising tool like Google Ads.

A A/B testing performed by California Closets resulted in an increase of 115% in the conversion rate simply by maintaining consistency between the pay per click advertisement and the landing page:

california closets ab test

If the title of your Google Ads ad is "Want to improve your conversion rate by 30%" then your headline will need to deliver on this promise, otherwise your visitor will be turned off.

# 9 Be clear

Your headline must be understandable to the reader: is not only a rule of common sense, but it is also confirmed by Conductor's study: it is no coincidence that the preference given to numbers, to addressing the interlocutor and the use of "how" confirms the reader's tendency to prefer a headline that leaves no room for ambiguity about the content of the article or what we have to offer:

headline clarity

2 ways to be clear with your headline

Here are 2 ways to craft a clear and direct headline:

  • of what your product or service is;
  • of what the user of your product or service will get: Adroll, the retargeting software, promises "Do more with your data". Similarly, the headline of Lead Pages "Grow your business. Collect more leads. Drive more sales."

#10 Use capitals

Second Conductor, 85% of users prefer written titles:

  • with the first letters of each term written in capitals. (64%), for example: How to capitalize headlines
  • with the entire title written in capitals (21%): HOW TO CAPITALIZE HEADLINES

As you know, capitalizing online is the equivalent of shouting, but the first tip is an interesting cue you can use in your headlines.

headline capitals

#11 Thrills

Needless to say, when you write your headline. you should excite your reader. If you can stir an emotion, you can get more shares:


and the best way to excite is choose words that go straight to the heart.

Don't worry, if you don't have any ideas, here. 2 tools that can help you compose headlines that excite:

  • Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer is a tool that "listens" to the tone of your headline and allows you to find out if it is more "empathetic", "spiritual" or "emotional". The tool also grades your headline and allows you to select your industry.
  • the 180 power words: Coschedule posted a beautiful image that summarizes the 180 words you can use in your headline to excite your reader:

#12 The perfect length? 2 parts & 8 words

The perfect headline structure? 2 parts and a number of 8 words.

8 words? Yes, at least according to the Guardian study, which states. headlines that are in 8 words have a higher 21% CTR.

In fact, keeping it between 5 and 9 words can be just as effective, because from a study seems to match the range of information the human mind can retain.

Usability studies on the other hand seem to confirm that the reader's attention is focused on the first and last 3 terms of a headlinewhich are the 2 parts to watch out for.

#13 Creates a "Curiosity Gap".

You need to be able to write headlines that stimulate the reader's curiosity to the point where he wanted to know the answer so badly.

Add tension or drama in the title without ever crossing the line of the clickbait. The difference between a strong headline and a clickbait is specificity. The clickbait headline is exaggerated and sensational.

Like this: "You won't believe what Trump just said.".

What if this headline was written like this? "Trump lashes out at protests along the border: 'they're a disgrace'". Doesn't that sound more credible and effective? In this case, the specificity is thought-provoking to the reader. Why would he call them "a disgrace"?

Try writing something grafts a question into the mind of the reader. Your headline needs to open up a margin of curiosity that they will be able to satisfy solely because of your article or newsletter.

#14 Choose your niche and be specific

Use the right terms for identify your audience right from the headline. 

Let's take the example above on Illustrator. It doesn't specify whether it's aimed at beginner, experienced or advanced designers. And there's a lot of ground to cover when designing a logo! Choose a subtype (e.g. a technical term like word-mark) and focus on that.

Have you ever heard of Illustrator? It is a mammoth design software with which you can create design masterpieces. It takes years to master. To continue with the concrete example, pick a specific Illustrator tool or aspect of it (for example, the pen tool) and focus on that.

If your article is really a manual dedicated to a general topic, write it in the headline. It could be something like, "Freelance Manual: how to design a killer logo with Illustrator".

Remember, the more specific you can be, the more your content will be able to engage your target readers.

#15 Keep your promise to the reader

Take this advice as a worthy conclusion to the argument you just made about a good headline. Building a strong relationship with your readers, based on trust and appreciation, is very simple. You just need to follow the number one rule of any marriage: do not betray!

The headline defines the expectations you generate in the reader's mind, and the story you tell in your content must live up to what you've anticipated. If you promise something you can't deliver on, the next time the user will instinctively be inclined to look at your headline with suspicion: "Can I trust him?"

Practical tips on headlines

Try this exercise. 

Rearrange the list of the latest newsletters you've sent, the social posts you've published, and the company blog articles you've already written, and ask yourself: how many of these start with or include a verb in the infinitive tense?

Your job is to turn the infinite form into a headline that invites the reader to action. You can use a more punchy verbal form or our awesome "How To". 

A good practice that you should adopt is to build yourself a matrix with which you can compose different types of headlines taking advantage of the best of the rules that we have seen above. There's nothing to stop you from creating a headline by combining the "How to" technique with a particularly persuasive number.

Or use a question that leverages the curiosity gap along with technical terms specific to your target niche.

Finally, I suggest you always ask yourself these questions before confirming the publication of your headline, sending the newsletter to your contact list, or clicking the "share" button:

  • Could my headline be any clearer?
  • Is this title specific enough?
  • Does the tone of voice reflect the point of view of the article?
  • How might the headline the uniqueness of my story?

That's all for today. I hope I have conveyed useful information to enrich your headlines and make them more effective in terms of opening rate and conversion. Thank you for your time.

6 tools and 150 ideas to create a creative headline

Run out of ideas? No problem.

Here you will find 150 ideas for your headlineAll you have to do is fill in the blanks and adapt it to your product or service.

Want to go even faster? Here's 4 tools to help you generate headlines automatically for your content.

  • Blog topic generator by Hubspot,from a maximum of 5 words, generates 5 possible sentences to use as a headline.
  • Buzzsumowhat better way to write a perfect headline than taking inspiration from the ones that have been most shared? Buzzsumo is a software (free after registration) that allows you to find the articles that have been most shared on a certain topic.
  • CoSchedule Headline AnalyzerIt is a tool that gives a overall assessment of your headline from various angles. It allows you to compare various versions and improve them from a persuasion standpoint. Absolutely worth trying.
  • Headlines Plugin by Kingsumo: could not miss a plugins for wordpress, which allows you to compare different versions of a headline to see which one might yield the best results. For a fee.

The ultimate formula for writing the perfect headline

There is a scientific, tested formula for writing perfect headlines?

Maybe so, at least according to Buffer: è a sum of a number, an adjective, a key word, a concrete term and a promise. For example?

10 proven techniques for writing headlines that convert

Let's break it down together.

  • 10: the number;
  • techniques: the concrete term;
  • heads: the adjective;
  • headline: the keyword;
  • that convert: the promise.
headline formula

What do you say?

Shall I tell you what I think? There's good news and bad news: the bad news is that the ultimate formula for writing a perfect headline doesn't exist.

But there is good news: you can find the headline that works bestmaybe with a A/B testing or the tools I suggested above.

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