How to Write Headlines Reviewed by Momizat on . that Produce Results Great headlines—whether in blog posts or e-mails—can convince people to continue reading, even if the writing that follows is mediocre. In that Produce Results Great headlines—whether in blog posts or e-mails—can convince people to continue reading, even if the writing that follows is mediocre. In Rating: 0
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How to Write Headlines

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Great headlines—whether in blog posts or e-mails—can convince people to continue reading, even if the writing that follows is mediocre. In fact, researchers have found that people generally read eight out of every 10 headlines…but read only two of the pieces that follow the headlines. Because blogging and email marketing are such critical tools for accounting and valuation firms, learning to write stronger headlines can open the door to significantly better marketing results.

Great headlines—whether in blog posts or e-mails—can convince people to continue reading, even if the writing that follows is mediocre. In fact, researchers have found that people generally read eight out of every 10 headlines…but read only two of the pieces that follow the headlines. Because blogging and e-mail marketing are such critical tools for accounting and valuation firms, learning to write stronger headlines can open the door to significantly better marketing results.

More digital marketing tips like these can be found in Hinge’s How-To Guides from Hinge University, our online learning platform.

Here are six sure-fire strategies for writing effective headlines.

Strategy 1. Emphasize the Benefit.

Avoid writing unfocused, rambling headlines. Focus on the central idea you want to communicate, and state it succinctly. Here are some examples:

Poor headline: You are invited to join our online community and earn rewards for your opinions.

Better headline: Take this online survey. Get paid.

Strategy 2. Start with Your Central Point.

State what you want your reader to know (or do) first. Research has shown that people pay the most attention to the first three words in a headline (the most important), and the last three. In the example above, “get paid” is the main benefit. So try putting it first, as in this example:

Get paid for taking our online survey.

Strategy 3. Ensure Your Reader is Ready to Take the Next Step.

If your headline includes an offer, make sure it is something your readers are ready for. For example, it is tempting to ask readers to make a leap of faith, as in:

Sign up for our two-day seminar and learn how to boost your website’s ranking on search engines.

However, most readers are probably not ready for a two-day seminar, so that may be too much of an ask. Instead, consider this revision:

Triple your web traffic in three months…the easy way!

Strategy 4. Be Clear, Rather than Clever.

Studies have shown that clear, straightforward headlines almost always outperform headlines that are overly clever. So state your point clearly—and leave the irony, humor, or creativity for later.

Also, be careful about using questions as headlines. A truly intriguing question might get attention. But in most cases, clearly stating the benefits of your piece will convert more skimmers into readers (and eventually, one hopes, clients). Here are some examples of headlines that are too clever/vague:

You Cannot Be Too Cautious (this could be about almost any topic)

Do You Want to Take Your Business Further? (too vague, with no specific payoff)

The Accountant’s Dilemma (too vague)

Strategy 5. Use a Headline Formula.

Many headlines are just variations on old standards that have been in use for decades or longer. These headlines all share two impacts: they engage people by tapping into basic human motivations and convince them to read on. Over time, headline writers have learned that certain formulas get people to act. Here are a few examples:

List Headlines

7 Trends in Private Equity Investments

5 Easy Tricks to Write Catchy Headlines

How-to Headlines

How to Increase Your Firm’s Value Message to Potential Buyers

How to Turn Client Failures into Your Greatest Successes

Why? Headlines

Why 90% of Prospects Will Not Select Your Firm (and What You Can Do About It)

Why Your Business May Be Worth Far More than You Think

“Secrets” Headlines

Secrets of Business Value Estimations

The Secret of Hiring (and Keeping) Great People

Guide Headlines

The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Business While Spending Less

A Beginner’s Guide to Forensic Accounting

Of course, some headline formulas work better than others. In a recent study of one million articles on the web, Moz and BuzzSumo found that “list” and “why?” headlines earn many more shares and links than any other types. So, try starting out with one of those formulas. Later you can branch out and experiment with other types (you can find hundreds of options by Googling “headline formulas”).

The bottom line? If you want more clicks and engagement, headline formulas are reliable workhorses. There is no shame in success!

Strategy 6. Test Your Headlines.

Keep in mind that no headline approach works perfectly in every situation. For this reason, we suggest testing different types of headlines to determine which works best for you.

The basic idea is to create two versions of your blog post, article, or e-mail that have one difference: the headline. Then you measure how the two versions perform—that is, which gets the most clicks, engagements, or conversions.

To push your skills even further, keep an eye out for headlines that catch your attention. When you identify a headline technique or formula that works for you, do not hesitate to swipe it and add it to your toolbox. 

Now, I encourage you to go forward and write some killer headlines!

For more ideas and guidance on practical marketing techniques to implement at your firm, be sure to check out our Quick Start Kits and How-To Guides on this and many other marketing and branding topics at Hinge University.


Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.

Dr. Frederiksen may be contacted at (703) 391-8870 or by e-mail to LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com.

The National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA) supports the users of business and intangible asset valuation services and financial forensic services, including damages determinations of all kinds and fraud detection and prevention, by training and certifying financial professionals in these disciplines.

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