Aaahh, the headline. The most important part of any post or content marketing article. You have 2-4 seconds to grab the reader’s interest—if not, they’re gone. Your headline also has to convince the reader that there’s something worthwhile at the end. More knowledge, a laugh, insider info. In our case, a headline that will ‘generate traffic’. Who doesn’t want that?!

For many small business owners, simply finding time to write is challenging enough with out struggling to come up with the perfect pitch. We’re here to help with seven hooks that will get the creative juices flowing (subscribe to the free UpCity Daily Tips newsletter for more tips on crafting compelling content).

Seven Headline Hooks

  1. Using numbers — Numbers have become one of the most powerful attention-getters on the web. It tells the readers that the information is going to be succinct and what kind of commitment they are making — they only need to read ‘five’ tips or learn a new skill in ‘three’ steps. As a writer, it also works as an outline and helps you organize your thoughts.

    Example: Five HUGE Reputation Management Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

  2. Invoking fear — Fear is one of the greatest motivators of all time. Hook people in with a scare that if they DON’T know what you’re talking about, they’re in trouble.

    Example: Beware! Four Accounting Errors that Can Ruin Your Business

  3. Make a bold statement — Make a BIG claim and then be willing to back it up. Even the word ‘bold’ is good. This should also make readers curious about why you’d make such a claim and intrigue them to read more to determine your rationale.

    Example: You Don’t Have to Be a Runner to Win a Marathon

  4. Appeal to greed — What business person isn’t ambitious? We all want to win or outshine a competitor. Greed isn’t bad when it’s tied to believable claims that helps people reach their goals.

    Example: Insider Secrets to Beating the Odds and Winning at the Track

  5. Keep it concise — Most of us will never win an award for crafting the perfect headline so sticking to the golden rule of ‘less is more’ is always a winning approach. Offer a basic headline can be read quickly and delivers what it promises.

    Example: Free Cosmetic Samples Available

  6. How to — Do anything better…easier…faster. ‘How to’ always works! It may not be that exciting but in the world of search, many of us type ‘how to’ in conjunction with our immediate problems. People will click on a link especially if the meta description promises relevant information.

    Example: How to Landscape Your Yard in Four Easy Steps

  7. Ask a question — This is risky if there’s a chance the immediate answer could be ‘no’ — i.e. Do you need a copywriter? It’s better to craft a rhetorical question. But, if the headline is interesting enough, and tied in with another hook, a question can have a powerful pull.

    Example: How do you know when is it time to hire a copywriter?

  8. Use humor — This is tough to pull off. You have to be able to make a good spin on something the majority of people will understand. Weird or inappropriate humor doesn’t work. Avoid humor unless you’re sure you’re genuinely a funny person!

    Example: Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop and Find Weapons (Note: I had to steal this from triberr.com because I couldn’t come up with my own!)

I can’t end this post without a nod to one of the masters and to provide readers with examples of how it’s done right. Brian Clark and his team at Copy Blogger have been doing it incredibly well for seven years, his winning tips for writing magnetic headlines are a bible for most writers. He always manages a combination a hooks to reel us in.

Good luck with your next compelling headline. Send it our way, we’d love to take a peek.