Taking the time to test different headline options could give you a huge boost in the amount of traffic your content marketing can generate - it's worth the extra time and effort to test.
Over the course of almost two decades, Jeffrey and I have worked directly with hundreds of content writers. Many of them were our secret weapons in many of our most exciting client success stories. Once the writers understood the personas they were writing for and had a clear sense of the narrative flow of the scenario and the context (where their content piece fit with in that scenario), they almost always delivered content that was both relevant and persuasive.
However, a recurring theme is that few if any of them were testing headlines continuously.
"On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar." - David Oglivy
I'll admit it wasn't always easy to test your headlines (remember, in the 1990s through the early 2000s, the software didn't exist) but in today's environment of thousands of headlines, subject lines, and content titles assaulting readers, more like a dam bursting than a fire hose, you need to develop the skills to throw readers a virtual life raft for them to grab hold of.
Let's take this recent example from one of my past columns. Which headline makes you want to click through? To read it? To share it?
Here are the results of my test:
It took a couple of minutes to come up with an alternative headline. We tested one and we got a 217 percent lift.
There was no change to the content; all I did was frame the title differently. What do you think publishers like BuzzFeed, Business Insider, or Upworthy are doing? They are choosing content that other people are creating and then framing the content and title from a different angle. They see spectacular results - go look at their traffic numbers if you have any doubt.
In fact, Upworthy has even created some fabulous SlideShares that tell you exactly what they are doing. It's worth spending a few minutes to look through it in detail. Of course, I'll share a couple of the relevant slides here:
So what is it exactly that Upworthy is doing? Glad you asked.
Here is my take on what they say:
Here is another one of my recent examples:
Which one do you think performed the best?
Notice two of them, had a better than 100 percent lift and one had a negative lift.
This isn't rocket science! It takes only a few minutes more. And it is obviously worth the additional effort,
Which headlines and titles are you running on your website or blog? Ones that get more people to click through, read, and share your content or ones that push people away?
Please start testing your headlines. Please invest the time and effort. How about if I tell you that it will save a kitten every time you do?
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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