More financial organizations are writing blogs and social media posts than ever before. However, simply creating content isn’t necessarily the key to your organization’s success.
Your credit union may be creating amazing content. However, that doesn’t mean a thing if there’s no one clicking through and reading it. Strong headlines are the best way to attract people and encourage them to continue reading. This applies whether you’re creating Tweets or blog posts.
Eighty percent of people read headlines. Yet, only 20 percent of them will continue reading the remainder of the article or message. This means your headline could make the difference between the content being read or completely overlooked.
The Role of The Headline
So, what is the purpose of a headline? Why is it so important for your credit union?
Essentially, a headline’s job is to make the initial contact with the potential reader. It’s there to entice the reader to commit to reading the article. Once you have achieved this, it has done its work.
For blog posts, this means your headline has to persuade the reader to move onto the post’s first sentence. Once he or she has, the content needs to be good enough to guarantee the reader stays engaged.
When you look at it like this, it’s easy to see why writing good headlines is so vital. Evidence shows you can increase traffic by up to 500 percent just by changing the headline.
So, how is it possible to avoid creating dull headlines that lead to readers overlooking the whole article? Credit unions can learn a lot from these seven expert headline tips.
1. Using Numbers
It’s impossible to overlook the importance of using numbers in your headlines. People share headlines with numbers more often than any other type.
Why do number headlines work? They compel the reader to continue through the whole list. Take a look at the title of this article. You clicked on it so you could find out all seven tips!
2. Being Specific and Concise
More specific headlines perform better than vague ones. Telling readers how they can save on their loan repayments is one thing. Telling them how they can slash their repayment costs by 20 percent is a lot more compelling.
Headlines that are clear with minimal room for misunderstandings reduce the chance of readers giving up. Letting them know what to expect from the post guarantees they stay interested.
While we’re talking about being specific, it’s also important to be concise. The chart above shows that headlines with between 61 and 100 characters perform best. Harness the power of the short, punchy headline.
3. Using Amplifier Words to Their Best Advantage
Descriptive language pays dividends when you’re writing headlines. Using amplifier words will boost your message’s impact.
There are three main uses of amplifiers – to show precision, express certainty, and increase intensity. All are valuable when persuading readers to continue past your headline.
4. Asking Questions
The chart above shows that a question in a headline leads to more social shares. This is because questions allow the reader to resonate instantly with your subject matter.
Questions with obvious answers spark the reader’s emotions. When you incorporate a rhetorical question into your headline that revolves around a pain point, readers are immediately more engaged. A strong tagline immediately after drives the point home. The reader knows he or she will get the solution he or she seeks.
5. Using the Second-Person Point of View
When you use the second-person viewpoint, your readers feel as if you’re speaking to them directly. Simply using words, such as “your” and “you,” builds connections with readers. They feel as if you’ve created the post for them.
Compare these two headlines:
“Credit Unions Supply Car Loans for Families”
“Do You Need A Car Loan? Your Local Credit Union Could Be Your Solution!”
It’s easy to see how the second title speaks directly to the reader. He or she feels as if you tailored the article specifically to his or her needs.
6. Making Promises to Your Readers
Making readers a promise can be very effective. You’re essentially telling them what they can get when they click on your headline. However, you have to take care if you use this technique.
If you set unrealistic expectations, readers can easily feel duped and misled. Include a benefit that the reader can enjoy after they click through to your comment but avoid overselling.
There’s no need to make guarantees in your headlines. Creating an aspirational title is a surprisingly clever way of sparking intrigue. When somebody reads your title, he or she will aspire to attain a similar goal. However, to find out how to do it, he or she will need to read the article.
Using this technique involves telling the reader what but not how. Leave a little mystery, so you persuade the reader to read the text.
7. Creating Urgency
Whenever possible, try to create a feeling of urgency in your titles. This encourages readers to click through immediately rather than waiting.
The ultimate goal with a headline is to persuade readers to read the content immediately. If they don’t click through instantly, they’ll forget about it. Putting time restraints in the headline gives the impression of important and urgent information.
The retail industry has used this technique for years. We’re all familiar with holiday deals and single-day sales. The feeling of urgency encourages people to act immediately. While blog posts are different from retail, the same concept applies.
A formula that works well in this respect is to give negative consequences if readers don’t click through. For example:
“If You’re Not Using Your Tax Return in These Five Smart Ways, You’re Throwing Money Away!”
You’re telling the reader he or she is financially worse off if he or she doesn’t read your article. It’s a persuasive technique that works.
What About Clickbait?
Some credit unions wonder if clickbait headlines are the solution when persuading readers to move past the headline. These titles are deliberately sensational to pull readers in.
In the world of marketing, clickbait headlines are a much-debated subject. While they can be effective, they frequently oversell content. After all, as you can see from the chart above, the primary component of a clickbait title is shock.
Should credit unions use them? Probably not is the brief answer. While the purpose of a headline is to engage the reader, they shouldn’t mislead. The point is to offer reliable, trustworthy content that persuades readers that your organization is a leading authority. Inflated headlines that fail to deliver don’t achieve the desired effect.
You can, however, employ some clickbait headline tactics to great effect in your titles. Creating intrigue is possible without any unnecessary headline buildup.
According to recent analyses, curiosity is a great draw for readers. This is because curiosity forms part of the brain’s reward pathway. Humans seek out new information for the reward it brings. This is one reason why reader validation works – even if the information isn’t new, the self-validation ignites the reward system.
There is also research to suggest the brain assigns extra dopamine to learning previously unknown information. All this suggests why inspiring reader curiosity is so important to creating the perfect headline.
Tried and Tested Headline Formulas
It can be challenging to come up with effective headlines. If your credit union’s content has less than inspiring titles, these are some tried-and-tested formulas to begin with:
“Learn the Secret Of …”
“Who Else Needs …”
“This Proven Method Is Helping …. to …”
“What Everyone Needs to Know About …”
“Try This Fast Way of Solving …”
“Little Known Ways of …”
“Eliminate … Forever”
“Now You Can Enjoy …”
These titles have all proven to be effective in a range of contexts. You can harness their power for your credit union’s content. Look at these examples:
“Learn the Secret of Saving for A House Deposit”
“Who Else Needs A Low-Cost Car Loan?”
“This Proven Method Is Helping Families to Save Hundreds of Dollars”
“What Everyone Needs to Know About Home Loans”
“Try This Fast Way of Solving Your Debt Problem”
“Little Known Ways of Contacting Your Credit Union”
“Eliminate Being in The Red Forever”
“Now You Can Enjoy Affordable Loan Repayments”
Focusing on Effective Headlines
These are competitive times in the financial industry. Encouraging more readers to engage with your content and not just the headlines is vital.
One way to ensure more people are clicking through and sharing your blog posts is to create effective headlines. With these expert tips, you can begin to craft compelling and intriguing titles for your posts and articles.
Once you start employing these effective techniques, you’ll find customers will read and share more of your credit union’s posts. This is good news for your organization.
More shares add up to more readers. More readers equate to more potential members. More members lead to more revenue in the long term. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how headlines are crucial to your credit union’s success.
Shondell Varcianna is the founder of Varci Media, an Atlanta based content writing agency for financial institutions. Shondell can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more blog writing tips, check out “The Ultimate Blog Content Checklist – 10 Keys to Blog Content Success at www.varcimedia.com/checklist