A Simple Headline Formula

On the Modlette opening page you get two opportunities to grab your learner’s interest.

  • Start typing your modlette title.
  • Start typing your description  

The How to … is one of the most effective headline formulas.  Headline formulas are a shortcut to writing attention – grabbing headlines.  Instead of reinventing what works, follow a formula that has proven its merits in many circumstances. You may think that using a formula is limiting your creativity.  But the opposite is true.  You use your creativity to make the formula yours and uniquely appealing to your audience.  The formulas are not rigid, you can play with them.  

Many How to headlines you see may seem boring but that’s because they either lack power and drama or they aren’t specific enough.  

In 2009 Dan Zarella discovered that How to is one of the 20 most retweeted phases.  

This research was followed in 2017 when Buzzsumo measured how 3-word phrases at the start of headlines influenced engagement on Facebook (buzzsumo.com/blog/most-shared-headlines-study).    These were among the most popular starting phrases:

  • This is How …
  • How to Make …
  • How to Get …  

Of course, there are many other How to headlines that work so well because like all good training they promise a solution to a problem.

So, why do How to headlines often seem boring? One of the biggest mistakes I see people make writing for eLearning is that they try to take on a topic that is too big and their modlette tends to be too long and superficial.  They try to pack every little bit of experience into it.  So, it’s important to try and make the promise in your headline specific.  A specific promise is more credible and it makes your ideal learner think your modlette is addressing them personally.  This makes them keener to be engaged in your learning.  

There are different ways to make your headlines and descriptions more specific and appealing.  We’ll look at this next week.