There’s nothing like discovering a shiny new tool and then learning that using it doesn’t necessarily make a difference.
No, I’m not talking about those teeth-whitening strips that promise a sparkling smile but don’t fully deliver.
I’m talking about headline analyzers. In my last post I did an experiment to analyze all of the headlines in this blog. The purpose was to see if my headlines were doing a good job of attracting and engaging readers.
Turns out, according to some sources, it may not make a significant difference in how many people actually click through and read the post.
But “making a difference” can have different meanings.
If we’re talking about improving the open rates of a blog post, then using a headline analyzer may not make a difference.
However, there are other ways of making a difference.
For me, using a headline analyzer is a fun way to practice writing 25 headlines for each blog post. This is a best practice to land on an attention-grabbing headline.
Using an analyzer – and my favorite is CoSchedule – is an engaging game to see how I can get the highest score. Then, among the top scores, I look for the headline(s) with positive sentiment, as opposed to negative or neutral sentiment.
Each week as I repurpose a blog post as a LinkedIn article, engagement is increasing with more likes, comments and shares. However, it’s hard to tease out if that’s due to the frequency and consistency of posting, a growing number of connections and audience size, or better quality headlines.
But whether or not headline analyzers have been proven to increase readership or not, the tool is helpful in improving the quality and descriptiveness of my headlines.
That got me thinking.
How else could I use the analyzer tools?
Email subject lines. With every email I write, I ask myself a question: if the recipient reads nothing else but the subject line, will they get my main message?
Also, will that subject line be easily searchable later on, when the person is looking for relevant information?
If writing 25 headlines for each blog post using the headline analyzer helps me write better headlines, couldn’t it help with my email subject lines too?
Clearly, with dozens of emails going out every day, it’s not feasible to analyze every subject line.
But for the more important messages, going to the busiest people? Absolutely.
Speech titles. Today I’ve been working on what I call my TED talk about “How to boost your career through social media.”
Or maybe it will be “How to live your best professional life in social media.” That’s the headline that got the highest score, with an 83 out of 100. The target is a score of 70 or higher.
It’s not a real TED talk at this point. Although it was fun to see my teenage son’s eyes light up when he thought his mom was actually giving a TED talk.
It’s the process of creating a TED talk that is guiding my presentation about social media savvy for corporate professionals.
Over the last few months, I’ve been invited to speak to 3 or 4 groups about how to build their careers through social media. That’s why it’s time to create the actual presentation and synthesize everything I’ve been blogging about for the last year.
TED talks are how people are used to learning about “ideas worth spreading,” so it made sense to me to start with this format. I’m inspired by the TED Talks book, and the talks by Chris Anderson and Nancy Duarte.
Once the talk is crafted in that format, I can adapt it to different audiences and different speaking times.
The “idea worth spreading” is often crystallized in the title of the talk. So why not give the headline analyzer a try?
In addition to trying 25+ different titles, I entered a few existing talk titles in the headline analyzer. Not surprisingly, most of them were above the 70 threshold for a good title.
Slogans and tagline. Then I wondered how a slogan or tagline would fare in a headline analyzer.
I added “how to” to my employer’s consumer brand tagline. I’m happy – but not surprised – to report it scored above the 70 threshold. (This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed in this blog are my own).
Then there was a variation on the employer brand tagline that a group of us created at a former company. Again, I was happy to discover it was well above the threshold.
When we were narrowing down the tagline from a dozen options, though, it would have been great to test them with a headline analyzer.
What other ways could a headline analyzer be helpful? Book titles didn’t fare well when I tested a few. Maybe I’ll try it for blog post subheads or upcoming tweets.
Most importantly, this tool has prompted me to stretch and try a variety of word combinations. Whether or not the data supports greater readership and engagement, the fact that I’m being more creative is a win in my book.
How are you using headline analyzers beyond their original purpose?