01 Jun 2015
How To Write Headlines For B2B Content Marketing

How To Write Headlines For B2B Content Marketing

Writing a headline was the final piece of the creative puzzle when I worked as a journalist and editor. As a business blogger and content marketer it’s usually the first. So what’s the difference?

When writing a news story or feature article, you often get your best material from conversations with subject matter experts. There were lots of times when my initial ideas of what a story would be about changed along the way because of what I learned while gathering information. So it made sense to leave the important task of crafting a headline until I knew exactly what my angle was going to be.

Although I’m still producing content for a clearly defined target audience, the process is different now. When you’re writing blog posts – or even producing content for e-books, infographics and other formats – each piece should be built around a single, easy to understand concept. This is the core value of your content and should also be the basis of your headline.

Identify Your Keywords

You want your content to be found  easily so start by identifying keywords. This free keyword generator is a great tool if you’re looking for inspiration. To give an example, ‘headlines’ or ‘writing headlines’ would be the most obvious keywords to use for this blog post. Unfortunately, these are also extremely popular topics with a Google search listing 226 million results for ‘headlines’ and more than 67 million for ‘writing headlines’. No matter how good your content is, it’s going to be a tall order to get on the first page of search results.

My clients are B2B technology marketers and face a similarly tall order if using ‘cloud computing’ as a keyword. This generates 130 million results. Again, it’s almost impossible to stand out in this crowd. Remember, the second page of search results is often described as the best place to bury a dead body because nobody ever goes there.

Refine Your Search

Using ‘cloud computing Australia’ as a keyword still pulls up more than 25 million results. Focusing on ‘cloud computing benefits’ (more than 35 million) or ‘cloud computing risks’ (almost 9 million) has little or no impact on the volume but ‘cloud computing deployment models’ only brings up about 1000 results. This is an attractive topic to tackle if it’s relevant for your business.

By refining my search for this post to ‘writing headlines for B2B content marketing’ I was able to get the number of relevant results down to 360,000. This is clearly a very popular subject but losing two or three zeroes from the end of the number of search results is still worthwhile. The addition of ‘B2B’ and ‘content marketing’ in my long-tail keyword also makes the post more relevant to my target audience, which means it has a better chance of being found by people with an interest in the same niche.

Whatever the topic of your next writing project, you’ll likely have several options to choose from if you follow this guide:

  •          News – If your content relates to something newsworthy, it will score highly with Google for relevance and timeliness. A subject with broad interest has the potential to get your brand in front of a large and diverse audience. Alternatively, hot news on a niche topic will improve your standing with a more targeted group.
  •          Question – This is sometimes a good way to get readers clicking into your content but, beware, it can also be a turn off. As a general rule, you should be looking to answer questions rather than posing them, so use sparingly to generate intrigue.
  •          How to – One of the most powerful ways of engaging an audience is to share knowledge. This is one of the headline types we use most frequently on the Magnetic blog. It works because readers are pulled in by the promise of learning something new.
  •          Why – This is a similar concept to ‘how to’ headlines and often works well as a way of adding context. It promises to impart knowledge that will help your audience gain a better understanding of a topic they already have an interest in.
  •          Personal – This style of headline makes a direct appeal to your audience. If you know them well and the appeal resonates, there’s a very good chance they’ll engage with your content.
  •          Lists – This has been the biggest growth category in recent years, offering readers a set number of tips or other points. This is partly psychological because your time-poor audience knows exactly what they’re going to get by clicking through. It also suggests content will be easy to digest.

So next time you’re looking for blogging inspiration, or need to nail the headline for an e-book you’re planning to produce, follow this three-step process:

  1.       Use a keyword generator to pull together some top-line ideas
  2.       Start typing them into Google and refine for your audience
  3.       Use one of these six headline styles to maximise impact


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