Connect with us

MARKETING

How To Create a Powerful Headline in 7 Simple Steps

Published

on

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?

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.


ADVERTISEMENT1654079091 971 5 Steps You Can Take Now To Make Future Content

The State of Content Marketing 2022 Global Report

500K articles analyzed. 1,500 marketers surveyed. 9 experts interviewed. Download the biggest industry report by Semrush and explore thousands of data points to build a better content marketing strategy.


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.?

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.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

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.

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:

  • 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.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

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

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

MARKETING

Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

Published

on

Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

(more…)

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Published

on

A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Published

on

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

​​

via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending