Writing a great headline doesn’t come naturally for most small business owners, including me.  Here are some best practices for creating compelling headlines for your website,  newsletter and emails.

Be Active

Using a active voice is much stronger and more compelling than passive voice.  Here’s an explanation from the University of Wisconsin:

In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice the subject receives the action.

Active: The candidate believes that Congress must place a ceiling on the budget.
Passive: It is believed by the candidate that a ceiling must be placed on the budget by Congress.

Active: The dog bit the man.
Passive: The man was bitten by the dog.

Be Clear

You’ve got one shot to grab the readers attention.  Don’t muddle the message with several ideas.  Keep your headline clear.

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Be Concise

Keep your headlines as concise and crisp as you possible can.  Get rid of fluff and filler words and use numerals instead of spelling out numbers.  I try to keep headlines from wrapping to a second line, but sometimes that can’t be avoided.

Be Intriguing

Create intrigue to encourage your readers to want to learn more.  Ask a question, tease with an idea, define a list, create a ‘how to’.

Constant Contact Local ExpertBe Direct

Speak directly to your reader (‘you’) instead of some faceless third party (‘they’).

Finally, know your audience.  You know your readers and clients better than anyone, so write with a voice that can speak to them, engage them, and encourage them to act!