The headline is the most important part of any article.
It tells you what you can expect. It tells what you will find.
It’s a promise.
I came across this promise the other day:
„How to include video in your email marketing“
That’s something I’ve been wanting to know and so I looked forward to a fast explanation.
But that’s not what I got.
Here’s what I got:
A first paragraph about the WHY (why videos in my e-mails could be good for me).
A second paragraph about the WHY.
A third paragraph about the WHY.
This went on and on. Believe it or not, I had to read 1203 words before the author got to the point.
For me, that’s a broken promise. If I promise you a HOW TO, I need to give it to you. Maybe not immediately. I can certainly use my introduction to set the scene. But in due time I better give you what you came for.
How to keep a promise
Some people advise to write the headline when you are finished with your text. In my trainings we do the opposite: we make the headline first. That is, we define the promise before we start.
Knowing your promise makes writing easier because it keeps you from loading your text with ideas that are interesting but just not relevant to the promise you make.
Also, writing your headline first doesn’t mean that you can’t refine or even change it later.
Change it later
Let’s imagine you were the author of the video-email-marketing article: a little into your writing you may realise that you’re talking more about the WHY than the HOW TO. You may also decide that this is actually the way to go. No problem, you can change the promise:
“Videos in your e-mail marketing: why they’re good for your business”.
In this case you can publish a first article on the WHY and a follow-up article on the HOW TO. Now you have two promises, two promises you can keep.
Carmella Fernando on Flickr