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11 Revealing Content Marketing Headline Tests

This post originally appeared on HubSpot’s Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, check out the HubSpot blog.

Every marketer in their right mind knows that in order to drive more traffic to your blog, you need to come up with blog post titles that are actually enticing. But that’s easier said than done. If only we had some data to show us how to scientifically create blog post titles that will attract more clicks…

Well luckily, I’m about to share with you that exact data. I recently wrote a post on how to use content discovery platforms to amplify your reach, in which I share tips on using these platforms to share your blog content on other relevant sites across the web. Having experimented with this over the past several months, I’ve been able to collect data on the click-through rates of different title variations for the same blog posts. (What a great way to do A/B testing on your blog post titles!)

So, let’s dive into the insights from this data, and see how you can use it to construct your most clickable blog post titles yet.

Which Blog Post Title Won?

1. Question vs. No Question

Variation A: What Does Google’s Hummingbird Update Mean for E-Commerce Business?
Variation B: What the New Hummingbird SEO Algorithm Means for Your E-Commerce Business

The Winner: Variation A (.07 percent vs. .01 percent CTR, statistically significant)

Takeaway: Frame your blog post title as a question to make it more intriguing.

2. Broader vs. More Specific Topic

Variation A: A Fool-Proof Formula for Easily Creating Compelling Content
Variation B: A Fool-Proof Formula for Easily Writing Amazing Blog Posts

The Winner: Variation A (.09 percent vs. .07 percent CTR, statistically significant)

Takeaway: Use broader topic descriptions to position your blog post as relevant to a wider audience.

3. Common vs. Unique Adjectives

Variation A: 8 Excellent Reasons to Redesign Your Website
Variation B: 8 Tell-Tale Signs Your Website May Need a Redesign

The Winner: Variation B (.05 percent vs. .04 percent CTR, trend)

Takeaway: Use adjectives that aren’t used as frequently in other blog posts to make your title stand out more.

4. “You”-focused vs. “Me”-focused Language

Variation A: 10 Things Marketers Need to Know About Inbound Marketing in Europe
Variation B: 10 Inbound Marketing Techniques that Make Us Sit Up and Take Note

The Winner: Variation A (.06 percent vs. .02 percent CTR, statistically significant)

Takeaway: Craft your title language to be about the reader and what is interesting to them, not you.

5. Asking a Question vs. Offering Exclusive Info

Variation A: What’s Next for Content Marketing Trends in Europe?
Variation B: Survey of Europe’s Content Marketers Reveals Surprising Trends for 2014

The Winner: Variation B (.18 percent vs. .10 percent CTR, trend)

Takeaway: Hint at the chance to access new and/or exclusive information, using words like “surprising” and “reveal” to position your content as exciting and unique.

6. Stating Your Offer at the Beginning vs. at the End

Variation A: 5 Infographics to Teach You How to Easily Create Infographics in PowerPoint
Variation B: Easy Ways to Create Killer PowerPoint Infographics (Free Templates)

The Winner: Variation A (.09 percent vs. .07 percent CTR, statistically significant)

Takeaway: If your blog post is meant to highlight a specific piece of content, make it clear what that content is up front, rather than putting it toward the middle or end of your post title.

7. Number vs. No Number

Variation A: The Simple Template for a Thorough Content Style Guide
Variation B: 7 Steps to Creating a Thorough Style Guide

The Winner: Variation B (.02 percent vs. .00 percent CTR, trend)

Takeaway: Begin your blog post title with a number to help make the post’s content more actionable and its length clear to the reader. This will also reassure your readers that they can scan through your list post quickly if needed.

8. Common vs. Unique Descriptions of Your Content

Variation A: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Compelling Blog Post
Variation B: A Fool-Proof Formula for Easily Creating Compelling Content

The Winner: Variation B (.09 percent vs. .01 percent CTR, statistically significant)

Takeaway: Position your blog post as having a unique content format—there are “guides” and “checklists” all over the Internet, but how many “fool-proof formulas” have you encountered?

9. Fun vs. Serious Tone

Variation A: 160 MORE Free Stock Photos You Seriously Need to Download Now
Variation B: 75 Free Stock Photos for You to Use (and Tips for Customizing Them in PowerPoint)

The Winner: Variation A (.11 percent vs. .05 percent CTR, statistically significant)

Takeaway: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Your post titles will be more enticing with a fun, light tone than a bland, serious one.

10. Emphasizing Content vs. Value Proposition

Variation A: 55 Free, Downloadable Templates for Visual Content Creation
Variation B: 55 Free Templates to Make Visual Content Creation Quick & Painless

The Winner: Variation A (.13 percent vs. .05 percent CTR, statistically significant)

Takeaway: Sometimes including more words in your post title to enhance your value proposition can actually distract your readers from what it is you’re offering them. When in doubt, keep it simple.

11. Clear vs. Vague Topic

Variation A: Why Purchasing Email Lists Is Always a Bad Idea
Variation B: What’s the Quickest Way to Destroy Your Credibility as a Marketer?

The Winner: Variation A (.03 percent vs. .01 percent CTR, statistically significant)

Takeaway: While using a broad title can attract a larger audience, going too broad can have the opposite effect by being too vague and not piquing interest. Make it clear enough what your post is about that your readers know what they’re getting.

I hope that seeing some of this data will not only inspire you to find unique ways to position your blog post titles to make them more clickable, but that it will also encourage you to try out different types of titles on your own blog to see what works best for your readers. Keep that creativity flowing!

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Image by Peter Rukavina
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