How to write killer B2B headlines

There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of headlines and why you should devote more time to writing and testing them. It’s standard marketing knowledge that while 80% of your audience will read your headline, only 20% will go on to read the rest of your content. This means that your headlines can make or break your marketing.

Instead of just providing you with general tips on writing headlines, I wanted to share some examples. I’ve pulled a few headlines from my swipe file and analyzed what makes them work. Without further ado, here they are:

How to Get $250,000 of Critical Market Data for Free with
Nothing More Than Your Computer, an Internet Connection,
and a Lazy Sunday Afternoon to Spare!

This headline came from Glenn Livingston’s chapter in 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More. Here are a few reasons why this headline is powerful:

  • It contains “How to”. ‘How to’ headlines are among the most popular on the web. When you use the words “how to”, you promise readers that they will learn something specific. This is why blog posts that have “how to” in the title often get more clicks than other blog posts.
  • It uses a big number. This headline lets you know the exact value of what you’ll get if you read the content and then implement the author’s tips.   
  • It includes the word “free”. People love free stuff. If you want a free offer to stand out, you can even spell FREE in caps.   
  • It harnesses the power of three. The Three Musketeers ABC chocolate, vanilla and strawberry good things come in threes. The brain finds it easy to categorize and remember things when they come in groups of three. In this headline “computer”, “Internet connection” and “lazy Sunday afternoon” harness the power of three. You can also cite three specific benefits in your headlines to capture your readers’ attention.

11 Essential Elements of a Perfect Blog Design (a Data Driven Answer)

The Quick Sprout blog is a treasure trove of great headlines. Here’s why this one is helping Quick Sprout get hundreds of comments and social shares:

  • It’s a list post. Go to any blog and look at its trending or most popular posts. Chances are, you’ll find lots of list posts. List posts are similar to “how to” posts in the sense that they make a specific promise to the reader.
  • It contains a numeral. Eye tracking studies have shown that the eye is drawn to numbers. Be sure to use them in your headlines.
  • It uses power words. Many marketers focus on putting keywords in their headlines. While keywords improve your SEO, power words motivate your audience to read your content. Power words can make your copy punchy and elicit emotion. The word “essential” tells readers that this post is important to read. “Perfect” suggests that readers will learn how to design the blog of their dreams.      
  • It talks about data. If your audience is analytical, you can appeal to them with statistics and data.

Sell more. Grow faster. Close anywhere.

This wonderfully concise headline comes from Salesforce.com. Here’s why it’s so compelling:

  • It’s to the point. Using just six words, Salesforce.com conveyed the three top benefits of its software. When it comes to selling technology, it’s usually best to focus on the customer benefits in your headlines and talk about your product’s features later.
  • It contains a group of three. Here’s another example of using the power of three in a B2B headline. This headline would lack something if you removed one of the benefits. If you added a fourth benefit, it would be hard to remember.

It’s Probably Your 2nd-Favorite
Thing To Do, And Now Science
Wants You To Do More Of It

I probably don’t need to tell you that this is an Upworthy headline. Love them or hate them, these headlines work. According to a study by Newswhip, Upworthy gets about 75,000 Facebook likes for each article. Meanwhile, the second “most-liked” site gets just under 10,000 likes per article.

Upworthy headlines work because they mess with your mind. They usually start by teasing you with something intriguing and then stating that you will have a huge emotional reaction when you click their links. For example, you might “blow your mind” or “get so angry” after watching an Upworthy video.

Curiosity is one of the most powerful human emotions. We don’t like to be left hanging, which is why we turn the pages in books, watch TV episodes that are “to be continued” and click Upworthy links.

But do these mind games work if you’re selling B2B products or services?

With Competitors Winning In The Cloud Market, No One Expected ABC Tech To Do This.  

When He Was Flooded With Help Desk Calls, This IT Manager Got Relief From A Surprising Place.  

If you’re going to try an Upworthy-style headline, proceed with caution. You must first know if your target audience will feel manipulated by such a headline. Will they delete your message? Will they think you’re having a brand identity crisis?

Since Upworthy videos are usually stories, perhaps a good place to test them would be with your case studies.

One thing you can learn from Upworthy is to always refine and test your headlines. Upworthy editors write 25 headlines for each article, and Upworthy then tests a few to see which one gets the most views and shares.

But Wait There’s More!

These are just a few techniques you can use to write killer B2B headlines. Take a look at some of your recent headlines and see if you can make them more powerful.

If you need help creating B2B copy that drives your readership, social shares and conversions, contact me at 647-342-4921 or rachel@freshperspectivewriting.com.