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How To Create a Powerful Headline in 7 Simple Steps

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How To Create a Powerful Headline in 7 Simple Steps

Updated June 21, 2022

This single most important sentence of an article can’t be found inside the article.

The headline must do more work than any other portion of the content. It must attract interest from the target audience, give potential readers a sense of the article, and demonstrate the brand voice. It may hint at the purpose or context of the article. The language needs to be intriguing, grab attention, and not to mention be accurate. Finally, it needs to be concise.

With so much riding on the headlines, coming up with the perfect sentence to appear above the article can be challenging. Here is a seven-point checklist to help you create effective headlines every time:

1. Identify your brand’s purpose(s) for the content

In content marketing, every piece of content serves a purpose for your company. The content may exist to:

  • Increase brand visibility (and clicks) on search engine results pages
  • Improve SEO for targeted keywords
  • Entice someone to open an email
  • Get someone to click on it in an e-newsletter
  • Encourage a website visitor to read further

If you have more than one reason, that’s OK. Pick the most important one, then craft the headline (and URL) around it. And, if your process allows you to use different headlines for secondary and tertiary purposes, write those, too.

Write your #headline based on your brand’s purpose for the #content, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent @semrush. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

2. Detail the audience for the piece

While your content could be seen by anybody and everybody, who do you really want to see it?

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If your first instinct is to refer to your personas, resist it. That’s a good step for creating content but not for writing a headline. Instead, recall your brand’s purpose for the content (Step 1) – that often leads you to identify a more niche audience than your standard persona or target audience.

Don’t think about personas when writing headlines. They’re too broad, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent @semrush. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

For example, let’s say your target audience is human resource managers in manufacturing. Your article about how to reduce the turnover of plant workers speaks to that group. That’s a good (and necessary) start.

The marketing purpose of the article is to get e-newsletter recipients to click on it. Thus, your headline should fit that format and speak to people who have subscribed to your content (they have a general expectation of what type of content you provide). While the topic is relevant to them, they may or may not be interested in it at this time. Therefore, you craft an enticing headline focused on how the content could benefit the reader and add a curiosity factor: Find Out 3 Surprising Ways to Be More Effective in Your Job.

Now, if the article’s primary marketing purpose was SEO, the audience would be people seeking information on the topic who may not be familiar with your brand. The SEO-focused headline for that same content would speak to the audience and industry: How HR Managers Can Reduce Turnover Rates in Manufacturing Plants.

By connecting your audience and your brand’s purpose for the content, you are well-positioned to craft a headline that achieves your goals.


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3. Understand why someone would consume this content

Think about how the content will be viewed – what headline will make this content attract readers?

At this step, your goal isn’t necessarily to explain the purpose of the content – it’s to explain the unique attributes of the content. Look to the lede/introduction to help identify these attributes. What’s the hook? Why would someone stop to view this content? What’s the value for the content consumers? Is it informational, entertaining, actionable, etc.?

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They need to have a reason to read your content.

Think about a search results page. With a multitude of options, what prompts someone to click one link over another? If your headline is almost the same as every other result, the searcher likely will click on the first one. But, if your headline stands out in that crowd, the searcher is more likely to pick yours because it’s unique or sufficiently detailed.

If your #headline stands out in a crowd, searchers are likely to click on yours, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent @semrush. Click To Tweet

Referencing the earlier example, if an HR manager was searching for ways to reduce turnover in his manufacturing plants, here are the headlines he would see:

The first two headlines- “How to Reduce Turnover and Improve Productivity” and “Reducing turnover in 2018 – 3 Strategies That Work” – don’t speak to the manufacturing aspect. The next two headlines – “Tips for Reducing Manufacturing Employee Turnover” and “How to Reduce Employee Turnover in Manufacturing” – are almost the same, only differentiated by the source identification. The final headline, Reducing Employee Turnover in a Multi-site Manufacturing Company, is unique because it specifies the type of manufacturing company.

Now, with the first three steps on the checklist complete, you are well-positioned to follow the next steps to write the headline.

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4. Keep it accurate

Unfortunately, this step is necessary to put on this checklist. For the sake of getting clicks, headline writers sometimes forsake, hedge, or sensationalize the truth. Always ensure that your headline is accurate both in fact and sentiment.

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HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Is Clickbait Ever Used for Good?

5. Pack a punch

A powerful headline includes:

  • Active verbs
  • Concise language
  • Blend of familiar and unexpected words
  • Clear benefit for intended audience

Going back to the example for HR managers about reducing turnover, look at these two headlines:

The first headline is strong. It uses an active verb (decrease) and concisely explains what the content is about. HR managers instantly know what they can expect from the content (how to reduce turnover) and that it speaks to them (at your manufacturing plant).

The second headline isn’t as strong. It doesn’t use an active verb or clearly state what the article is about. On the positive side, it offers an unexpected twist (hiring as the solution), but the language is so muddled it’s hard to assess that at first glance. (Using three words ending in “ing” creates a visual mess. The reader must work harder to discern the meaning of the headline.)

Revise your headlines until they’re clear, concise, and powerful for your intended content consumers.

Revise headlines until they’re clear, concise, & powerful for intended #content consumers, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent @semrush. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

6. Use your voice

When a headline promotes content from your brand, the headline should reflect your brand’s voice. Is it straightforward, or does it incorporate a touch of humor (or maybe snark)? Are your audience members kept at arm’s reach (i.e., third person) or treated like friends or at least acquaintances (i.e., second person)?

Let’s look at Globoforce, a cloud-based, human capital management software solution company. As its website details, “Globoforce got started in 1999 with a central belief in the transformative power of positivity.” Its corporate attitude materialized in a question: What if we shifted our focus from data collection to human connection?

That positive, confident voice that focuses on people is reflected in its headlines, such as:

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  • 12 Surefire Tips To Reduce Employee Turnover (blog)
  • 5 Learning Trends You Should Adopt in 2019 (blog)
  • All the Feels: Setting the Stage for Employee Experience (podcast)

Your brand voice is unique – make sure it comes through in your headlines.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:  5 Steps To Find Your Brand Voice

7. Go before a sounding board

Sure, you can A/B test your headlines (it’s a good idea). But that’s a live test. Test headlines before you publish. Ask for feedback from your team (or, even better, a few of the intended readers). Share a few headline options (don’t share the content itself). Then ask:

  • Would you click on this headline to read more?
  • Why?
  • What do you think the content is about?

Test #headlines before you publish, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent @semrush. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

Look through the answers to find the ones that best match your original intent and use those headlines.

7 check marks for great content marketing headlines

Headline writing is never easy. In content marketing, it’s even more challenging. Not only does the headline have to explain what the content is about (or entice the reader), but it also has to contribute to the business goal of the content.

To get it right, it helps to define your marketing reason for the content, your intended audience, and the unique reason its members want to read this particular content. By getting that right, you’re well on your way to crafting an accurate headline that reflects your brand’s voice and packs a punch.

And that’s the formula for any great headline.

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Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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MARKETING

8 Effective Ways to Ensure Ecommerce Business Success

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8 Effective Ways to Ensure Ecommerce Business Success

It is a known fact that the global consumers are favoring ecommerce, and the reasons for ecommerce business success are many. 

According to a Statista forecast, the retail ecommerce revenue in the US is expected to cross 1.3 trillion dollars by the end of 2025.

Image via Statista

While brick-and-mortar stores are gradually losing their dominance, the digital marketplace is blazing. More and more ecommerce brands, big and small, are coming up and gaining a foothold in this ever-expanding landscape.

If you are one such ecommerce business striving to taste success, you know how demanding and competitive things can be. And you only beat the fierce competition with aggressive ecommerce marketing strategies like digital advertising, content marketing, social media marketing, etc.

In this post, I will be sharing 8 key factors you need to focus on to ensure your ecommerce business success and sustainable business growth. 

Let’s get started.

8 Key Factors for Ecommerce Business Success in 2022

The future of ecommerce is bright and the small businesses that jump on the bandwagon early will reap great benefits. But what does it take to taste this success? 

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Here are the 8 key success factors for ecommerce businesses.

1. Target a Niche Audience 

The secret to ecommerce business success lies in understanding your target audience and focusing all your efforts on engaging them. Instead of trying to attract a broad audience on the search engines, select a niche audience specific to your small business, understand their pain points and interests, and position your brand to meet their needs. An SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs can help you with your research to build a strong marketing strategy based on real insights.

The goal is to make your product unique and market it to a relevant audience that is more likely to make a purchase. This strategy can increase customer loyalty and win repeat customers for your small business. Therein lies the secret to your ecommerce business success. 

2. Go Mobile-First 

The pandemic has accelerated our shift to ecommerce and given rise to m-commerce. Insider Intelligence estimates that by 2025, m-commerce sales will account for 44.2% of total ecommerce sales in the US.

So it’s clear that the success of your ecommerce business relies on the mobile-friendliness of your site. Having a mobile-friendly online store can help you deliver a seamless online shopping experience to customers on the go.

You can begin by running Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and building a progressive web application (PWA) for your online store. A responsive design for your website will help boost sales and pave the way for your ecommerce business success.

3. Choose the Right Distribution Channels 

Your audiences are active on different channels and if want your products to be visible to them, you need to choose the right distribution channels. 

If your business model focuses solely on your ecommerce website, you should broaden your perspective and consider other sales channels. There are several other options to sell your products like Amazon, eBay, social media, affiliate marketing, and so on. You can manage your sales process effectively with the help of sales CRM tools. These tools integrate your different sales channels and makes your sales process more efficient.

Conduct extensive research to figure out which of these channels are preferred by your target customers. Showcase your products in an attractive way to boost your ecommerce sales. This digital marketing strategy can contribute to your ecommerce business success.

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4. Create Unique Content

You heard that right. To ensure that your ecommerce brand stands out in the crowd, you should invest in high-quality and diverse content. 

Today internet users are flooded with content and to grab their attention you need to think out of the box and create content marketing strategies that truly grab their attention. Remember, video content is ruling the landscape delivering great results. You can use Premiere Pro Presets to create unique and impressive videos and stay ahead of the competition.

Gather insights from customer data analysis, see what your competitors are doing, and learn from your previous digital marketing campaigns to create a more targeted content marketing strategy for your small business. 

5. Continually Update Your Email Marketing List 

Marketers rely on email marketing to achieve diverse marketing goals. Emails can be used to generate leads, nurture them, build relationships with customers, ensure customer satisfaction and boost ecommerce sales.

But to leverage the power of email marketing, you need to be smart about your email lists and use the right email tools to manage them. There’s no point in sending a thousand emails when only a couple of hundreds of recipients are your target audience. 

That’s why segmenting your email lists and keeping them updated is crucial to your ecommerce business success. An effective way to manage your email lists is to ask for the recipients’ feedback on your emails and the information they prefer to receive.

By analyzing the responses, you can make more strategic decisions and ensure the success of your ecommerce business.

6. Deliver a Great Shopping Experience 

The expectation of customers in terms of customer experience has skyrocketed and that’s why you need to work towards improving customer satisfaction.

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Personalized communication could be one of the biggest game-changers, be it in recommending products, reminding them of abandoned carts, or introducing them to your latest offerings. Creating user story maps can go a long way in making your personalization efforts more effective.

Right from the moment customers land on your page to when they make a purchase, you should strive to create a smooth customer experience. You can also consider incorporating an AI-powered chatbot into your website to take your customer service to the next level.

To make your customers happy, offer them special deals and discounts. Such moves will surely boost your ecommerce business success.

7. Invest in Social Media Marketing

Social media, can be immensely effective in creating brand awareness, extending customer service, and generating leads for your ecommerce business. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are all marketers’ favorites to reach out to niche audiences and drive traffic for their sites.

Having said that, it is a crowded market, and winning big on social media isn’t easy. As an ecommerce brand, you need to use social media analytics to create digital marketing campaigns that not only generate engagement but also fill your sales funnel with quality leads.

Ecommerce brands should also leverage social selling as it is growing into a prominent trend. This shoppable post by Macy’s allows its Facebook followers to buy what they like instantly. 

Image via Facebook

If invested strategically, selling on social media can act as a profitable sales channel for your business. 

8. Leverage Ecommerce Tools

Your team need not struggle to ensure the success of your ecommerce business. A variety of advanced ecommerce tools are at your disposal to optimize your efforts. 

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Some of the must-use tools for you are: 

  • Website tools – to design, set up, and manage your ecommerce site
  • Ecommerce marketing tools – to help strategize and execute your campaigns with ease 
  • Competitor analysis tools – to understand the gaps in your planning and improve it
  • Analytics tools – to help you gauge the performance of your digital marketing campaigns
  • Business tools – to help you manage daily operations, finances, logistics, inventory, and customer service 

Choose the ones that can boost the success of your ecommerce business. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a list of 8 key factors you need to work on to ensure the success of your ecommerce business. Gaining this success is hard work but it is worth it. 

If you want to fuel your business growth, I strongly recommend building your ecommerce marketing strategy to enhance customer experience and build your brand identity. Go ahead and give them a try to beat the competition and establish a successful ecommerce business.


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