How to Write A Mind-Blowing Title for Your Offer
- Sharon Hurley Hall
How important is a title?
Important enough to make or break a sale, according to E. Haldeman Julius, publisher of Little Blue Books and author of First Hundred Million: How to Skyrocket Your Book Sales with Slam Dunk Titles.
By tweaking the titles of his books⎯the content, cover design, and promotions remained identical⎯he turned duds into hits.
For example, Julius sold 6,000 copies of Theophile Gautier’s Fleece of Gold in 1925. When he changed the title to The Quest for a Blonde Mistress in 1926, sales zoomed to 50,000 copies.
If you want to get people interested in your offer, whether it’s a book, special report, online course, or blog post, you need to learn how to write a title-and not just any title, but an enticing one.
It’s an often quoted statistic that 80% of people will never read beyond your headline (which is considered the title of a post or web page). If you want to encourage them to be part of the 20% who read more, then you need a title that rocks.
How Offer Titles Work
Like a great headline, a great offer title has multiple functions.
First, it gives people a preview of what you’re going to deliver. Remember those sleazy offers from the early days of the web? They were great at wowing people with the promise of huge earnings for a small time investment.
Second, the offer title also makes a promise to the reader and tells them why they should stop and look. Whether readers want to be better marketers, social media wizards, conversion optimizers, or bloggers, the offer will draw them in.
Here’s an example from an online course platform, Teachable, offering a free book for creating a course:
It works because Teachable is an expert in the field and anyone who’s on the site may be wondering how they can create their own online courses.
Third, the offer title can help draw your audience in from other platforms. You can use a good offer title effectively in social media marketing or wherever you plan to promote it. Get it right and people will click through to learn more.
Here’s an example from Hubspot, who have used the same offer title on both the offer page and a tweet. To make the tweet more appealing, Hubspot has included more detail on what readers will gain from the offer:
How to Write a Title: 5 Ways to Go from Good to Great
Quicksprout points out that changing a single word in a headline led to a 46% increase in click-throughs. That’s why getting the title right can make a huge difference to the success of your offer.
Here are some of the best ways to create great offer titles every time.
1. Create Lots of Alternatives
One of the first things you can do to improve offer titles is to create lots of alternatives.
All good copywriters know that the more headlines you write, the greater your chance of finding the one that works. Upworthy and other content creators do it, too. Sure, you’ll end up with a lot of crappy offer titles you won’t even use, but you’ll likely find a few that have a real shot at converting.
One tool you can use to help with the brainstorming process is Buzzsumo. It’s a tool I’ve recommended before to help with content creation, but it also works well for brainstorming titles, especially since some offers actually appear in the results.
Put in the key phrase you plan to use in your offer, then see what similar content people have created and shared. Use this as inspiration for coming up with your own offer titles.
You can also get headline inspiration from many websites that even show you which titles are effectively getting clicks and shares.
2. Tap Into Psychology
One important aspect of writing great offer titles is psychology: understanding what triggers people to take action.
Depending on your offer, you may want to spark curiosity, create a sense of mystery or anticipation, tap into emotion, awaken the fear of missing out, promise something novel or useful, or simply show that you understand their pain (and plan to solve it). That’s a lot to pack into just a few words, but you can do it.
For example, the Mirasee blog includes offers to download three different ebooks, each targeted to a different audience desire.
Sometimes your offer also has to establish your authority. In the screenshot above, this is subtle, with a grayed out list of the places that Danny Iny and Mirasee have been featured. You can also establish authority by being specific. People love specificity, so when you use facts, statistics, and numbers, your offer titles will be more successful.
3. Use Few Words and Make Them Count
Depending on who you ask and what the title is for, the ideal length for a headline is anywhere between 50 and 100 characters. Outbrain says 60-100 characters gives the best click-through rate, though ideal length may vary depending on which social media site you’re using the title on.
Most people keep them in the low 60s to 70-character range and go even lower if they are thinking about how they will look on mobile devices.
That’s not a lot of words to make an impact. And that’s why every word counts. Ripenn analyzed 2,616 viral headlines and found that evoking curiosity and strong emotion worked well. Nielsen Norman Group adds that since most people pay attention to the first few words, it’s better to front load titles with strong keywords.
In the screenshot below, even if you only read the beginning of the title, you know what you can gain from attending this Kissmetrics webinar.
It works because it gets straight to the point, identifies a problem, and offers a solution.
Knowing which words to choose is an important part of writing great titles for offers. The good news is, there’s lots of research to help with this. For example, Buffer has identified words with viral potential that you can include in your offers.
Nielsen Norman suggests avoiding “faddish” vocabulary in favor of specific, benefits-driven language. And CoSchedule suggests mixing up the language to include a mix of emotional, power, common, and uncommon words. This helps you to avoid titles that seem too generic.
4. Use Headline Resources
Don’t be afraid to use shortcuts to help with writing great offer titles. One of my favorite tools for writing headlines and titles is the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, mentioned in this list of blogging tools. It’s a quick way to assess word balance in your titles, as well as overall quality. For even better results, use it along with headline generation tools like the ones from Portent, Hubspot, and SumoMe.
Another way to write great titles is to use headline templates to help with inspiration. There are dozens of these online, as well as this in-depth analysis of the best headlines on the Headlines that Work section of Copyblogger.
5. Test and Tweak
Once you have a couple of headlines you’re happy with, the final step is to test to see what works. A/B or multivariate testing will allow you to show different titles to different parts of your audience so you can see which title is converting the best. You can do this on your site, on social media, or via ads. All the methods have drawbacks, according to Conversion XL.
Titles are crucial to the success of your offer. The time you spend brainstorming alternate titles and testing them is a good investment. And as you write and test more offer titles, you will get a better idea what works for your audience.
How do you write titles for your blog posts, reports, and other offers? What resources do you use to help you write compelling titles?
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8 thoughts on How to Write A Mind-Blowing Title for Your Offer
Wow Sharon! What a wonderful list of resources. But you left out the very best way to write a mind blowig title — become you:) Next best method that I really appreciate is your advice about practice practice practice — writing again and again. The resources you provide will make that practice well invested time.
Thanks for this post!
Sharon Hurley Hall
Aww, thanks, Kim. Really appreciate the kind words. And it’s true: the more you write, the better you get.
Make that “mind blowing” — but the image of blowing a wig is also apt:)
Tremendous information, Sharon. Thanks for that. Titles are so important.
You reminded me of a story Jon Morrow tells. His new boss told him to write 100 headlines every day as a way to get really good at it. He did that for one year.
No wonder he writes such captivating work these days, especially his headlines. Remember the one called “How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World”?
And the article is even better than the headline!
Sharon Hurley Hall
I agree, Gary, Jon Morrow has mastered the art of writing headlines. I remember that post well.
What an incredibly helpful post, Sharon! Thank you so much. I’m playing around with subject lines for a 3-week launch sequence, and this is EXACTLY what I needed!
Sharon Hurley Hall
So glad you found it helpful, Diane. Best of luck with the launch.
Excellent advice on a significant yet oft-neglected topic: How to write a mind-blowing headline.
A big thank you, Sharon Hurley Hall, from New South Wales Australia
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