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Your Headline’s Five Important and Surprising Jobs

When we were in school, we were taught how to write a title for our papers and projects. We learned that the title was supposed to summarize or introduce what our work was going to be about. It wasn’t always interesting, but it also didn’t count for much of our grade. Most of our points were earned from the content of the paper or project.

Now that we are in the business world, that has changed. Our customers are looking for answers using online searches, social media, or through the blogs they find. They have access to so much information, and only have time to scroll through their search results. What is catching their attention is our title. Only now, it’s called a headline.

Where Is Your Headline?

The definition of a headline has grown to include whatever it is that draws attention to your content. So while your blog’s title is still the headline, headlines can also be found in our other marketing efforts:

  • On your website, it’s the home page
  • In your email marketing efforts, it’s in the subject line of your email
  • In social media, it’s the first line of your update or the photo you include
  • In your ebook, brochure or catalog, it’s the front cover
  • In your direct mail piece, it’s the envelope or outside cover

Your Headline’s Important Jobs

Now that you know “where” your headline is, you can begin to understand its power. Here are five important and surprising jobs your headline has:

Job #1: Get the attention of your readers. Your customers skim headlines to decide if they want to read more. A direct mail piece that looks different from the other items they pull from their mailboxes will get their attention. If it doesn’t get their attention, they will pass it over.

Job #2: Spike interest. Once a headline has gotten your customers’ attention, it must spike their interest. A headline should be intriguing enough to make them want to read more, or open the email you have sent them. It’s not always a summary of your content anymore. It needs to be interesting.

Job #3: An SEO magnet. Particularly on website pages and blog articles, a good headline can improve your search engine optimization efforts. If keywords are placed in the headline (as well as other parts of your website) it can increase the chances that your website or blog will come up in a Google search. And that is what we all want – to be found by Google!

Job #4: Gives news. With some articles, the headline gives your readers the gist of what your article is about. It’s giving them the news or the summary, and they can read your article to get the details. This is used often in press releases or newspaper articles.

Job #5: Target a certain audience. If you are trying to get the attention of a specific target audience, your headline can help you do that. “Attention All Animal Lovers!” or “Important Information for Millennials” can help deliver your message to your intended audience.

A headline has evolved from a simple paper or project title we never thought much about, to playing an important role in every piece of content we create. Your headline’s jobs provide pathways to your business, and opportunities for future relationships with your customers.

Laurie Zinn is a Columbus-based freelance writer and owner of Line-By-Line. She helps businesses communicate with their customers through website content, blog articles, email marketing campaigns and social media. For more information about Line-By-Line, visit http://line-by-line.us or contact Laurie at laurie@line-by-line.us.

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