In content marketing, we spend so much time and effort deciding on the perfect headline. We want you to click it, but we don’t want to be click-baity. We want to promote our product, but we don’t want to be salesy. They’re sometimes the most important: on average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read your entire piece.

The problem is, the more marketing headlines your readers see, the more difficult it is for you to be original. And the longer you work in content marketing, the easier it is to see what a headline is really saying. Without further ado…

If Marketing Headlines Were Honest, They’d Sound Like This

1. The Stroking The Ego Headline

marketing headlines

Sure, we love interviewing thought leaders for their knowledge — they are thought leaders for a reason. But it doesn’t hurt to have an extra social community of 100K quality Twitter followers…


2. The Click-Bait Email Subject Line

 marketing headlines

You might not get exactly what you think you’re getting, but it’s provocative. It gets the people going!

And… increases our click-through rates.


3. The Ultimate Guide Headline

marketing headlines

The “Ultimate Guide” is the new “For Dummies” for marketers. We use this because a) our resource is so comprehensive and amazing that it actually is the ultimate guide to [insert marketing topic here] or… b) this might have been the best we could think up.


4. The “I’ll Scratch Your Back, If You’ll Scratch Mine” Headline

marketing headlines

We’re not lying — you should attend these conferences in the fall. Especially because their PR people told us to.


5. The Listicle Headline

marketing headlines

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a listicle — we even did a study where numbers in headlines performed better.

But come on (we’re all friends here): we’re just putting together a bunch of things we found off the Internet. And it’s just a tiny bit better than your competitor’s “34 Stats About Content Marketing.”

6. The Stroke-The-Ego + Get-Content-From-Smarter-People-To-Give-Us-More-Authority Headline

marketing headlines

All content marketers have done this at one point: contact every single influencer (at least, the ones they can get emails for), wait patiently for replies (crossing fingers), and get lucky to have enough content and quotes to fill an entire blog post.


7. The Talking-About-Your-Product-Without-Talking-About-Your-Product Headline

marketing headlines

Sometimes you can’t even tell until you scroll down and see a “Request a Demo” button at the bottom?

What’s the best marketing headline you’ve read? Let us know in the comments.

And, sign up for our blog newsletter for more:

35 Responses to If Marketing Headlines Were Honest, They’d Sound Like This

  1. notsofastnow says:

    I’ve always argued that ideal product copy would simply say, “Please buy our stuff,” and list a price.

  2. Hal Werner says:

    I’m dying here. Classic. I can practically hear the honest headlines when I’m reading headlines line these. In fact, sometimes when I read ones like “35 Amazing Castle Pictures – Don’t You Want to Live in #13?” I also hear “Get ready to click through 56 individual pages to see the 35 amazing pictures, which will be interspersed with ads every few clicks and have pages so packed with spam ads, you’ll never find the ‘next’ button and accidentally end up on a lap band site.”

    P.S. I got so tired of those (Popular Tactic) is Dead FUD posts

  3. Yuvrajsinh Vaghela says:

    Esther Chung,

    How will you re-write your own headline if you wanna be Honest 😛

  4. Paul Caudell says:

    Made my Friday, you hero.

  5. Arunkumar says:

    LOL! That’s amazing 🙂

  6. Vasy Kafidoff says:

    LOL! Made my day!

  7. Jay Acunzo says:

    Bloody brilliant

  8. Hollie says:

    Hilarious! Fun Friday read, thanks!

  9. Girdharee says:

    Honest headline of this article “We were looking for few clicks/shares over weekend” 🙂

  10. BiggsMontana87 says:

    Haha, I did sign up for the blog because that was really funny. Well done. If the 20 emails I got a day from all the industry lists people bought had lines like these I might actually read them.

  11. Nelson Tan says:

    Your active-voice headlines truly give me some food for thought. Thanks Esther.

  12. Forrest Wheatey says:

    Ahem ..

    • Esther Chung says:

      “Can you tell until you scroll down and see a “Request a Demo” button at the bottom?” Where do you think we got this inspiration from?

      • Forrest Wheatey says:

        Self-burning is the best kind of burning 😀 What I missed to say was “Great article”. Just found your banner immediately after and had a laugh 🙂

  13. Rachel Ann Custodio says:

    Haha this is amazing.

  14. christianbenitez says:


  15. Niklas Göke says:

    Brilliant! Love how you quoted Ni**as in Paris by Kanye & Jay-Z in #2 😀

  16. mario says:

    Great stuff. My favourite is The “I’ll Scratch Your Back, If You’ll Scratch Mine” Headline. Visit my website to see more

  17. mario says:

    Great stuff. That is my favourite: The “I’ll Scratch Your Back, If You’ll Scratch Mine” Headline. To se what I write about please visit my blog

  18. mario says:

    Great stuff. That is my favourite: The “I’ll Scratch Your Back, If You’ll Scratch Mine” Headline.

  19. Sarah Miller says:

    This is amazing 😀

  20. onlinespiele says:

    Oh, this Marketing… Thanx!

  21. crisstyris says:

    Amazing post. It also makes us aware about the thoughts of the other people.

  22. Sam sandy says:

    This makes marketing sound so immoral lol. Oh well. If it wasn’t for us, headlines would be pretty good.

  23. I tried “Click-Bait Email Subject Line” to approach the client for business and It’s works for me.From the last 3month I receive so many positive reply compare to the past. Thanks Esther.

  24. Gaytri Dhatrak says:

    Really nice and informative post. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Peter John says:

    Your marketing headlines article really sounds interesting to read. Thanks for sharing informative article.

Marketing Job Listings Exposed: The Truth Behind the Description

Read More