📰Engagement: How to write better headlines

write better headlines

This is Inbox Hacking, a free newsletter with Email Marketing insights, tools, & tactics sent twice per week. If someone forwarded you our Newsletter, join marketers from Hubspot, the NBA, & Realtor.com and sign up for a Free subscription. On tap: Improving your headlines for more clicks & engagement.

Morning, Inbox Hackers. Hope your coffee’s filled to the brim and your vacation days too (use ’em!)

Today we’re talking effective headlines & titles… so your emails, videos, ads, etc. will get more clicks and engagement. 

I’ll show you current trends, highly effective phrases, and examples from a worldwide leader.

Write better headlines – Takeaways:

  • Most writers spend too little time on the headline
  • Yet most readers only care about the headline
  • Headlines have gotten shorter 
  • Exaggeration isn’t needed to grab attention
  • Clickbait only works in the short run (erodes trust)

Headline and Title Trends

I picked these headline trends out with a lil help from a handy AI assistant (Perplexity).

  • Many titles are getting shorter (rampant phone reading/scanning)
  • Super specific headlines so readers can’t mistake what they’ll get
  • “need to know” & “the first time” are very effective phrases⭐
  • Mentions of time boost engagement, (i.e. “this month” / “in 90 seconds”)
  • Most shared headlines were 11 words / 65 characters (Facebook & Twitter)

Teases still work. Personalization too. The best number in a headline is still 10. 

“The first time” is so trendy that I even hear it constantly from various podcast guests when revealing something new about their life.

Write Better Headlines – Tactics in Action

The worldwide leader in making sports widows, ESPN, knows a thing or two about grabbing eyeballs. So emulate their tactics for writing better headlines…

write better headlines

1)Promoting their Fantasy App is the main goal.

2)Then the Fantasy article with a giant font.

3)Last, the subheads to the right.

Then ESPN uses:

  • Numbers in nearly every title
  • Very unique power verbs like “ices”
  • Time themes like “30-year streak” and…
  • …“not since”  

Oh, and videos far outweigh articles below the top fold.

write better headlines
source espn.com
write better headlines
source espn.com

You don’t need an ESPN writer (neither does ESPN #layoffs). Just follow their headline tactics. Or use BuzzSumo’s content analyzer that helps generate ideas and learn from the best current headlines.

Write Better Headlines Wrap-up

Headlines are the keys to making emails stand out, getting videos clicked on, and enticing browsers to download lead magnets. 

Taking time to learn to write better headlines and tweaking each headline until it has the best chance of grabbing attention is always time well-spent.

And it’s vital to know the nuances of different platforms and the headlines used. (i.e. your blog vs. YouTube titles).

“For being only about 60 to 100 characters—or 16 to 18 words long, a headline has a lot of responsibility.” ~Marketing Insider Group
2 more helpful links:

⛓Sean at Psychotactics uses headline parentheses and his sub-headlines are epic. His Headline Report is worth reading twice.

Headline deep dive with structures, formulas, and swipes from Marketing Insider Group.

Keep reading for The Knowledge Base, 3 key stats, & Today’s Hack.

write better headlines

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Knowledge Base

💪Knowledge is power, but first, a real underdog

Need guidance on setting email marketing benchmarks?

😲Did you notice that Spamhaus Glitch?

Bots versus marketers (how to do battle)

👀Infographic→ check your marketing messages

Get journalists to mention your organization

👏Level-headed take on using AI & getting sued

Follow Inbox Mailers…


Self Help

The smartest dog on Earth memorized and recognizes the names for like 1,100 different dog toys.

Most dogs know how to sit and that’s it.

But even the dumb-dumbs know how to treat people. And how to be happy. And how to get everything they want.

Mostly they just want friends. But they don’t hunt friends, they be friends. 

*Shout-out to Inbox Hackers:

⚖Wayne at VACS Ltd. (calibrations)

Tina at Raise the Bar (manager training)


Facts and Stats

  • Only 15.7% of mailers say they’re ‘very confident’ in their email deliverability knowledge (Email Insider)

  • 24.5% of mailers didn’t know if they’d been blocklisted in the last two years (Media Post) 

  • New survey: Mailers’ top 3 concerns? 1. Staying out of spam folder. 2. Getting more emails delivered. 3. Staying off blocklists. (Mailgun)

Bonus: 2 vital e-commerce metrics most brands don’t calculate or understand how to? Answer here.  

News Flash…

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  • Increases click volume

Schedule a free demo of Inbox Mailers’ patent-pending platform.

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Get Hacking

Oh the horror…new survey revealed email marketers were flippant about key email metrics. Only 16.4% said they tracked inbox placement. Just 10.8% monitored spam trap hits.

Spam traps can chew the legs off an email marketing program. Clean your list regularly.

Inbox placement? Getting the email delivered isn’t enough. Don’t roll the dice that subscribers would dig through their spam and promotional folders to find your email. Monitor inbox placement rates and see rates for various ESPs in this June 2023 report.

ALT hack: An easy way to increase sales→ Add product reviews in various languages (73% of consumers would like this option).

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