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Research shows that 8 out of 10 people will read the headline copy in a blog. But only 2 in 10 will click through and read the article.

Headlines matter. For investment marketers, they should be up there on the Hierarchy of Needs alongside food, water, battery life and wifi. Bad headlines are kryptonite for marketers’ CTRs, ROIs and CVs!

For marketers at asset managers, here are some practical ideas that will increase your site traffic, supercharge your client engagement, and lift your exec team’s eyebrows when they read your stats.

1. Make an emotional connection

Research from Buzzsumo showed that the phrase “will make you” was by far (double the next best) the most powerful phrase for generating clicks, likes, shares and comments. This works because it’s a linking phrase that attaches your service to the reader’s feelings. To break it down:

 

[product/service]        =>        will make you              =>        [feel/think something].

 

And as marketers, we all know that an emotional appeal is a fantastic way to stir a response.

In this article from Schroders, “Brexit three years on: markets and the economy in six charts”, the content is fantastic. But could the headline bring more people to the party? Using the Buzzsumo model, we’d likely get stickier eyeballs with “Our Brexit analysis will make you change your view of UK equities”. Or maybe, “6 Brexit charts that will make you realise the UK is 30 percent undervalued”.

2. Pique their curiosity

People are naturally curious. An expertly written headline that leaves you wanting to know more is gold. Analysis by Intellyo found that this approach is particularly effective. Buzzsumo found “this is why” and “can we guess” ranking two and three in their best performing headline phrases.

I know from my friends at Kames Capital that their post “How pizza can help explain credit spread duration” performed really well. Readers were drawn in by the unusual metaphor. And they were perhaps intrigued by how they might finally master credit spread duration. Which brings us to…

3. Readers want to learn

Looking specifically at B2B headlines, the best engagement on LinkedIn posts comes from “how to” headlines. Many of us have a strategy of seeking to educate our clients – and this will work provided you attach a clear benefit to the learning point.

Let’s have a look at this example from Merian Global Investors: “CoCos in various rate environments”. This is clearly a terrific educational piece that does a great job of informing its audience about contingent convertibles. But could there be more enticing ways to bring in more readers, such as, “How to invest in CoCos and sleep at night in any rate environment”. Or, perhaps, “How to up your bond portfolio’s yield and protect yourself from rate rises”.

4. Numbers and list-based headlines perform well

We all know that numbers work well. Indeed, research from Hubspot show that list-based posts performed the best in the B2B world.

Buzzsumo, meanwhile, looks at which numbers perform the best: on LinkedIn, if you use 5 or 10, then you’re likely to get around 60% more shares than if you chose 3, 7, 4 or 6. In B2C, the number 10 outperforms other numbers by a wider margin. Despite the prevailing wisdom these days, it seems that round numbers work best.

And don’t worry about accusations of ‘clickbait’. As long as your article delivers on the headline’s promise, it’s not clickbait, just a bloody good headline.

Let’s work on this example, “The dangerous science of buckets” from our friends at Aviva Investors. This headline definitely ticks the curious box. However, I wonder if a list headline might perform better – something like: “3 reasons why absolute return funds are NOT alternatives” or more positively, “3 reasons why absolute return funds ARE core investments”.

5. Clarify the benefit to the reader

This is the most important tip of all. Whatever headline technique you choose, it has to deliver a clear and specific benefit to the reader. To do that, you need to know your customer – remember, institutions will have different wants from advisers, consultants, and consumers. This might mean tailoring your headlines to your segments.

Let’s work with this example from Aberdeen Standard Investments of a strong article with great content: “European equities – interesting times”. Instead, how about: “This is why European premium brands will drive European equity markets”. Or: “3 stories that will make you excited about European equities again”.

Finally, after all that, the article is still the thing

Last of all, I have to emphasise that the underlying content in the article is far more important to its success than the headline. (Are your headlines writing cheques that your articles can’t cash?!)

There’s no doubt, though, that a great headline strategy will encourage more readers to engage with your content, build a relationship with your company, and give you far greater ROI on your marketing budget.

Try out some of these ideas. Experiment. A/B test them. And let me know how you got on.

Make your headlines zing. Make your articles pop. Make your readers click.

Ross Hunter

Ross founded Copylab in 2005 and is now leading the team in the UK and leading the company’s charge into new markets.