Online content is now a big deal these days given how active online media has become. Internet activity has been on the rise all along and the lockdown scenarios have even catalysed that rise. I have always gone at length to emphasise the need for people to be active online. Especially for businesses this is something you cannot afford to trivialize. So, here are two things to consider pertaining to online activity. One, the number of businesses having an online presence is increasing. This means there is an ever-growing landscape of online content. Two, how then do you as a business make your online content stand out? There are many ways to achieve that but today my focus is headlines.

First Things First

Before I get into the core of what I want to discuss let me start off by clearing some things. First of all, you need to get an appreciation of what I mean when I say online content. Online content is any form of text-based, audio and visual material that you post online for various reasons and on several platforms. Thus, if you are posting blog posts that is an example of online content. If you are posting anything on social media platforms, that is also an example of online content.

The reason why I had to highlight that is because most people think that when we mention about ‘online content’ we are referring to some incredible and sophisticated things. If you draft a simple ad on WhatsApp (a simple message) and spread it around that is actually online content. All in all, you cannot be active online without posting or sharing stuff – all which is content. Whether you are doing it for advertising purposes or educational purposes, just to mention a few, that is a whole different story.

The other thing I must clarify where is what I am referring to by the term headlines. In the simplest of terms I am referring to things like ad headings, social media post headings, WhatsApp ad headings and so on. I am sure it is now clear to you what I am looking at and why it is important.

Breaking Down The Strategy

Often times the crux of creating and propagating online content is to sell something. In essence, be it direct or indirect, the ultimate goal is usually to sell some products. How then does one come up with catchy headlines that will be so alluring that people cannot ignore. You probably might be thinking that a headline is not really much of a big deal. Well, some experts say that headlines are the biggest key to the potency of your online content. David Ogilvy, a renowned advertising guru once said, “On the average, 5 times as many people read the body. When you have written your headline you have spent 80 cents of your dollar.” You can choose to interpret that statement in many ways but here is one way to look at it. It means that a well written headline reduces your advertising costs by as much as 80%. The strategy is quite simple, here it is:

A catchy headline must have 5 parts namely, a number, a trigger word, an adjective, a keyword and a promise. In fact, you can think of it this way, when coming up with a headline think of those 5 parts as the ingredients you will mix up to create a catchy headline.

Some Examples

In order to drive this home let me cite some examples so that you get the picture. An example of a catchy headline could be “20 Candid Facts About Clive Masarakufa”. I used that example to show you that it is not always possible to include all 5 parts. That example has only the number (20), adjective (candid), trigger word (facts or my name) and keyword (about) – there is no direct promise per se (‘facts’ can point to a promise of knowledge acquisition). Another example could be “20 Coolest Places To Get Married in Zimbabwe”. Yet another example could read as “20 Sentimental Gifts To Make Your Girlfriend’s Day”. That one literally has all the 5 parts depending on how to choose to categorise the terms used. This all sounds too simple but that is the secret to developing a catchy headline that can drive sales.

The beautiful thing about online content is that you can experiment and over time note trends that can inform your overall strategy. This means you can come up with headlines using this strategy and over time see how your content performs. Performance can be measured in terms of engagement rates and ultimate click-through sales amongst other metrics. That 5-ingredient formula for coming up with a catchy headline is guaranteed to produce remarkable results for you. It is no rocket science and you can even start putting it to work today.