As we look through many headlines nowadays, you will notice the pattern as to how headlines are made. Identifying how the construction of headlines gives you much more sense or clarity of what is effective and what is considered remarkable.
So, knowing the audience’s perspective mostly gives insightful data on where to start and what to put on headlines. Their perspective tells you why they ought to behave in a certain way and use that information to your advantage.
Given the statistics, the average human attention span has dropped, particularly within 15 years. In 2000, the average human attention span was 12 seconds.
Fast forward, after 15 years, it decreased to 8.25 seconds. A study says that goldfish have a longer attention span than humans, having a record of 9 seconds.
With such a short attention span, this may have led users on an average web page to read 28% of the words during an average visit. As for the average page visits, users often leave the web pages after 10-20 seconds.
Such a few seconds of attention span and the fast-paced environment affect how the audience will likely engage and read articles, advertisements, blog posts, and news. You must get their attention first for the audience to keep going.
Headlines will be the frontrunner in attracting your audience. Here, I listed ways to guide you on writing effective headlines and how these headlines play a role in attracting the audience.
Tell Something Out Of The Ordinary
We all go through mundane tasks every day, and everything seems the same and in a routine pattern from day to day. That’s why we may get easily caught up in something out of the blue.
This statement is always heard, but it won’t catch our attention as news like fish swimming in the river, but if the fish learns to walk, that’s something else. Basically, it just means that unnatural phenomena or beyond-the-normal stories get more attention.
A researcher George Loewenstein in his paper entitled “The Psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpretation,” explained what is called the curiosity gap. It is the act of being curious about a certain information gap that elicits a feeling of deprivation, which is resolved by obtaining the answers to satisfy their curiosity.
Perhaps, if you encounter a story about a fish learning how to walk, it builds your curiosity and makes you want to find out more if it’s true. It gives you an idea of how the audience can gravitate to using headlines and find out more about the story or content.
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)
It is in our human nature to satisfy our need to belong. This can also be seen in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, implying that we humans thrive and survive by having a sense of connection.
With that drive to feel the need to belong or form connections, the fear of missing out on what’s new, relevant, or trending may have been rooted in this. Considering this in mind, you now know that headlines should be building on something that people can relate to.
With their fear of missing out, the headlines’ use of words and statements must be constructed into something they would feel updated or exclusively have access to. As they feel the need to keep up, they’ll engage further with the article, content, or news.
✋ Stop worrying about SEO and have me do it for you
PS: Ready to work with the 0.01% of all SEOs worldwide? Click here.
Diffusion of innovations theory describes how ideas, contents, products, or practices are shared, spread, or diffused. This theory does not directly explain what effective headlines should be. It focuses more on the audience that may encounter your content and whom you’ll need to persuade using your headlines.
These are the different roles the people in the population play:
- Innovators – are the first to try new ideas, products, or concepts, usually thought leaders or influencers.
- Early adopters – the ones who try out and review what the innovators have tried. They check if the idea or product can pass through their verdict.
- Early majority – part of the mainstream of the general population who set the trend for the late majority
- The late majority – is also part of the general population but are the ones who follow and bandwagon on the early majority.
- Laggards – are the last ones who try new ideas, products, or concepts.
From the concept of this theory, you can see the pattern of behavior or the diffusion of the concept or product, mostly in the early and late majorities. As you can see, how they try to keep up on what’s trending shows how they want to be connected and relate, as the late majority emphasizes.
For example, you want to create a blog post about a newly launched camera. You then try to construct the headline to make the audience feel the need to catch up and not miss out on what’s with the new camera. Generally, you can think of showcasing new features or limited edition units.
Choose The Right Words
It’s not enough to tell people what’s trending, relevant, or new. Words have different effects, and one example of it is food items in grocery stores.
If you noticed, there are many choices from a brand to choose from when it comes to many food items like milk, juice, coffee, and other items. Howard Moskowitz is an American market researcher who introduced us to many variations of food or beverages.
Additionally, Howard found that people cannot always explain what they want when asked. In his Pepsi research, he then introduced what is called horizontal segmentation. He stated that one type of food product does not suit all tastes or needs, as people have different preferences.
So, there is no one perfect sauce that fits all. It does not mean that you have to create multiple headlines in just one story, which would be time-consuming.
Using keywords for SEO does not only tell you how to improve your ranking and later increase your web traffic. It also tells you what words people search for that you can use for your headlines, which would more likely attract the audience looking for those exact words.
Negativity bias can be another way of telling something out of the ordinary. From the Outbrain study on headlines, insightful data about headlines are as follows:
- Headlines with positive superlatives containing words with “always” or “best” performed 29 percent worse than headlines with negative superlatives.
- Headlines with negative superlatives have better results, with 30 percent having better performance than the positive ones.
- Headlines with negative superlatives have an average click-through rate of 63 percent higher than the positive ones.
You would notice news headlines are mostly negative as it tells stories of violence, war, storm surges, or other societal issues. People tend to get curious about negative content as they are out of the ordinary, which can be better explained by negativity bias.
This negative impression offers need-to-know information, as seen in clickbait headlines.
To attract the audience, negative or dreadful information in your headlines goes hand in hand with leaving more impressions than positive stories and their headlines.
Get The Specifics: Include Numbers And Lists
Specifying to people what they are about to expect explains that Courtney Seiter at Buffer stated that humans like predictability and dislike uncertainty. The audience can estimate if one would have the time to read it according to the headlines that promise several ways or list their following contents.
Since the headlines offer content to people in a consumable or more digestible manner, the process of reading the listed or numbered contents is also becoming self-reinforcing. It is self-reinforcing as it gives you the feeling of satisfaction of completing the task, which in doing so, is already rewarding.
For as we know of reinforcements, getting rewards from something we do tends to repeat it more.
Start With The Hows And Whys
Asking questions to the audience is another way to fill in the curiosity gap, and it also offers immediate need-to-know information. Given the previous insights and explanations of how headlines would gravitate the audience to its contents, questions should focus on what people can relate to.
One may also consider if readers want to know the answer to your question in the headlines.
Need help in making headlines and compelling blogs? Check any of these posts!