October 31, 2018 | Kayla Hollatz
It’s Halloween and nothing scares content marketers like…
…writing an effective blog subject line.
And clowns. Always clowns.
The blog post title is usually the first thing a reader sees when scrolling through their social media feed or your blog. This means you could spend hours carefully crafting your blog content, but if your title doesn’t entice any visitors to click, no one will see it. Major bummer.
So how can you grab your reader’s attention and earn that click? We’ve got you covered.
Stand out from the crowd
Halloween is not a time for copy cats. No one wants to find someone else at their company Halloween party dressed in the same costume. Yikes!
Your title should be like a DIY costume: unique and original. Your audience is not one-size-fits-all so diversify your messaging. No one has the same voice as you, so use it to your advantage.
Being clear > being clever
You have a clever costume idea you’ve never seen before. It’s new, it’s flashy — it’s the next best thing. It’s a Halloween miracle! But wait. No one you know will understand it.
Sure, a few might be interested enough to ask what you’re dressed up as, but most will be puzzled and walk away.
If your blog post title is packed full with jargon or clever jokes, you could be driving away clicks from your content. Creative is good but clear is best when it comes to marketing effectively.
Some readers might visit out of curiosity, but if your message isn’t clear from the get-go, you’re hurting your chances of getting that click.
Learn from the past
There’s a science behind Halloween, no potions or spells needed. Each title can have a number of elements: numbers, adjectives, buzzwords, play-on-words, you name it. How do you measure how well your subject line formula is working?
In short: test, test, test! A/B testing isn’t just for paid search landing pages. A/B split testing takes the guessing work out of measuring the effectiveness of your title, giving you summaries of what works (and what doesn’t).
But don’t just take our word for it.
We knew these blogging and marketing experts would have some extra scary good tips for writing brilliant subject line copy that will boost your CTRs and increase your readership. Win-win!
10 Experts Weigh In
“Be true to your titles. Tricky or tempting titles that draw readers in, then fail to deliver as promised, are a HUGE turnoff. While provocative titles definitely draw eyes, your reputation is on the line if the title trickery only delivers a title with nothing to back it up.
While it might be tempting to go provocative in the hopes for clicks, I can’t help but think it’s smarter to be true to your titles and deliver the kind of content that holds up.”
– Mallie Hart, Marketing Director and Owner of Go Creative Go
“I try not to write a final subject line before I finish the first draft of an article. Of course, I have an idea about the overall theme of the topic, but for me, writing to a subject line can lead to serious writer’s block.
Once I’m comfortable with the first draft, I’ll start crafting subject line options. If it sounds natural, I’ll incorporate a targeted keyword or two within the subject line and try to leverage an emotional cue.
Finally, I’ll read the subject lines aloud a few times and go with the one I feel the strongest connection to.”
– Adam Dince, Director of Digital Experiences at Collegis Education
“Your subject line should be an attention-grabber. Get in your readers’ head and ask yourself, ‘What will get them to not only read the headline but the first sentence? What’s going to catch their attention in this sea of news and articles?’
While it’s fun to get super creative with headlines, be careful not to use too many fluff words to where it overshadows the meaty information.”
– Rebecca Potzner, Social Media Strategist and Founder of Twist on PR
“Subject lines for blog posts are so important: they are usually the first thing people read. A successful subject line is attention-grabbing but not schmoozy; after all, you want people to be interested in clicking through!”
– Helene Kwong, Co-Founder/CEO of @hashtagitude
“An effective blog post has two titles: an editorial title and a SEM-focused title. Your SEM-focused title doesn’t appear on the page. Most CMS’s, like WordPress have plugins that allow you to specify these.
Your editorial title is what appears on the page. It follows traditional publication rules: be clever, or at least concise.”
– Dennis Jansen, Mobile/Newsletters Editor at The Dallas Morning News
“In today’s over-saturated world of 24/7 content, it’s only the blog posts with sharp, compelling headlines that get read. There’s an abundance of catchy headlines that all use a fairly similar formula.
(We see them repeated again and again for one reason: because they are proven winners!) All we need to do is follow their lead.”
– Erika Madden, Owner of Olyvia
“Just try to grab people’s attention. Much like the books lining the shelves in your local bookstore, blog posts are judged by their “cover:” the title.
So grab your readers’ attention right away — be a little bit provocative or entice people to read more by writing a title that seems as if it should be followed by an ellipsis (“…”). Just make sure you quench their curiosity in your post!”
– Jenna Arak, Founder and Chief Copywriter at jennaarak.com
“When you click, you want something that communicates a benefit (unique tips, humor, strategies, etc.) and doesn’t sound scammy. I like to use personal words such as “you” and “your” to help the reader imagine themselves in the topic.
Also, don’t be afraid to communicate the benefit upfront. Just always make sure it’s something you yourself would click on.”
– Regina Anaejionu, Founder of byregina.com
“Make the subject line captivating and personal. Include what the email will be about, rather than creating misleading subject lines.
People hate being misguided. Don’t do that to them. Just be upfront and genuine.”
– Kamila Gornia, Marketing Strategist and Business Coach at kamilagornia.com
“Writing subject lines is easy if you always start with advice from Ernest Hemingway: ‘Write the truest sentence you know.’ Give your readers something in your title that is instantly valuable to them — something that they can cling on to.
Craft it so that it is something they can stop and gasp at — either because your opinion surprises them, because it truly “speaks” to them, or because it brings up an old memory.
When you catch a reader off-guard emotionally with your subject line, not only do they click into your blog post, but they really tune in. You’ve already got them excited to hear what else you have to say.”
– Stephanie Lennox, Founder of The Authorship Program
Thanks again to all of our experts for sharing their tips on crafting effective blog post titles!
Don’t be Scary; Be Scary Good!
To recap, here are some tips on how to write a scary good blog post title:
- Be unique and original
- Make it understandable
- Measure your effectiveness
- Don’t be afraid to look to experts for advice
What additional tips do you have to add? Let us know in the comment section below.