[Data-driven] What you need to know about generating conversions through content headlines

Posted by Murray Sye

on Sat, Jun 20, 2015 @ 12:36 PM


Do your headlines generate attention?

A great headline gets your audience to stop, read and share your content. But what about converting those readers?

In today's post we're going to share with you some of the secrets that will help not only generate more clicks but generate more conversions. 

Content marketing in its truest form should not be overtly promotional. What sets it apart from other marketing techniques is the focus on providing value to the reader or viewer. That said, an important goal of content marketing (and one that is growing in popularity) is generating conversions.

A conversion is getting your reader to take some action. That action could be opting into a newsletter, buying something, agreeing to have a salesperson contact them, or anything else that gets them more involved with your organization. Generating conversions without a hard sell requires finesse.

One way to focus on a conversion goal is to throw your clickthrough rate out the window and write headlines that grab fewer numbers of people, but people who are more specifically interested in what you are trying to get them to do. That might mean headlines that are less attention-grabbing to a general audience but chock-full of meaty information on what the content (and conversion goal) are about.

This blog contains data from two established leaders in this space, Outbrain and HubSpot, to help you gain insights on what makes content successful in both paid and organic distribution and amplification. Outbrain analyzed HubSpot's expansive data, drawing from a sample of more than 3.3 million paid link headlines, examining the impact of a number of headline variables on clickthrough rates and post-click engagement metrics.

Here's what HubSpot's data has to say about headlines and conversion rates.

What kinds of headlines make people take action?


  • I need to have it!
    While the word "need" leads to decreases in CTR and page views per session, it actually drives conversion rates up. While it may come off as too pushy to many, it appears to seal the deal among those who bite.


  • Save me a click
    Once again, headlines with bracketed clarifications are a winner, delivering 112% higher conversion rates than headlines without such clarifications. Readers are not only more likely to click and more likely to remain engaged after the click, but are also more likely to eventually convert when they are given a clear picture of what lies behind the headline.


What kinds of headlines reduce conversion rates?


  • You can't trick me
    The word "trick" had a negative impact all around, not only decreasing CTR but also decreasing page views per session and conversion rates among those curious enough to click. It seems that even the small portion of the audience that decides to click on these headlines are not pleased with what they find.
  • Don't you know who I am?
    Here is another headline element with a negative impact all around. Headlines that made references to the reader by including the word, "you," "your," or "you're" not only hurt CTR and page views per session but also decreased conversion rates by 33% on average.


One way to receive more views, clicks and conversions is by actively promoting your content through email, social media, guest blogging or other promotional channels. These channels are all excellent short-term solutions that can give you a big boost in traffic, especially when your coordinate promotion in multiple places. However, you want to also think of the long term benefits of every piece of content you create, which is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

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Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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