How to write headlines, subject lines and tweets that get clicked

Looking for inspiration for your next ezine, blog post or tweet? Then take a tip from Cosmopolitan magazine, which is inhabited by some of the world’s best headline writers. Just adapt their words to suit your own product or service, and watch your click-throughs soar!

To give you some idea, here are today’s Cosmo headlines in bold, with my suggested tweaks in italic, for various occupations:

1. Health news you need to know now

Accountant: Tax news you need to know now

Plumber: Plumbing news you need to know now

Coach: Leadership news you need to know now 

2. Pretty hairstyles to try this party season

Graphic designer: Lovely logos to suit the autumn

Insurance: Effective ways to protect your business during an economic slowdown

Retailer: Perfect gifts for that hard-to-buy-for person at Christmas

3. Why online dating may be harder than you think

Mechanic: Why an annual car service may be harder than you think

Event organiser: Why arranging your wedding may be harder than you think

IFA: Why choosing the right mortgage may be harder than you think

4. Five new tricks for dropping lbs

Dentist: Five new ways to protect your gums

Photographer: Five new ways to restore lost image files

Marketeer: Five new ways to launch a product to market 

5. This will put you in the mood (for the holidays)

IT expert: This will put you in the mood (for implementing a backup strategy) 

Web designer: This will put you in the mood (for updating your website) 

Electrician: This will put you in the mood (for having your wiring checked) 

6. Celebrity fashion that makes us sad

Window cleaner: Windows that make me sad

Copywriter: Sales letters that make me sad

Composer: Music that makes me sad

7. Adele opens up to Cosmo!

Hotel: Our Chief Exec opens up to [Name]!

Charity: Our Patron opens up to [Name]!

PR: [Any celebrity] opens up to [Name]!

8. Take our quick poll!

This is the odd one out. Anyone can use this heading, unchanged, anytime. 

9. Relationship #Fail: Worst stories ever

SEO: Google #Fail: Worst stories ever

Printer: Print #Fail: Worst stories ever

Telecoms: Telecoms #Fail: Worst stories ever

So, what’s Cosmo’s secret? For one, they really know their market. The above (bold) headlines cover only three topics because that’s what their readers want: Sex/Relationships (3, 5 and 9), Appearance (1, 2 and 4) and Celebrities (6 and 7).

Top tip: You really need to know your market too.

For another, they use the word YOU more than the word WE, US or OUR (it’s obvious in 1, 3 and 5; implied in 2 and 4).

Top tip: You need to do the same. Not just in headlines, but in ALL the copy you write.

And finally, a couple of points to note about no. 9:

  • ‘#Fail’ has crept into the language via Twitter

Top tip: Language is constantly evolving and you need to keep up-to-date, especially if you are writing for a youthful audience

  • People will read ‘world’s worst’ headlines more than ‘world’s best’ headlines

Top tip: People want entertainment as well as information, especially online. It’s human nature! So that’s what you need to provide (if it’s appropriate for your brand)

I hope this quick’n’easy approach to headline-writing helps you. When you get used to it, it’s a doddle! To be honest, I found it harder to pick the example occupations than I did to write the adapted headlines! Please let me know what you think in the comments.

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