Many things have been said about headline testing. You’re probably aware of the benefits that implementing headline testing can bring to your workflow. The term itself kind of contains the hint: doing some headline test… Probably to increase CTR (click-through rate)?
Overall, yes. It’s the point. However, if it were that simple, we wouldn’t be bothering writing this post.
So, today we’re going to break down the headline testing process – who needs it, what metrics should be tracked, and, surely, how to integrate the system into your workflow. So it can ease the life of your team, and your wallet can finally begin a new, fulfilled life.
What is headline testing?
What is headline testing? It’s a process of splitting the traffic to your site to expose parts of it to different variations of a headline. You show the first variation to the one portion of your traffic and the second variation to the other portion, respectively. The point is to leave a single variation that people like most.
Why do you need this?
- Of course, to improve CTR. If readers click on your headlines more – your pageviews increase.
- To boost recirculation. If users visit more pages from your homepage – your recirculation rate improves. Recirculation rate is one crucial metric that needs to be worked on. The higher your recirculation rate is – the more readable your content becomes in the eyes of search engines. Besides, if you’ve managed to align all headlines with the content in a way that a headline truly mirrors what follows – your readability score will be higher as well. Because people like to read exactly what a headline promises. It means you increase the likelihood of turning your repeated visitors into subscribers who pay for your product/content.
- To enhance the workflow and remove the guesswork. Integrating headline testing as an obligatory part of your work will redirect efforts spent on guessing (“What’s gonna perform well?”) toward a more productive data-backed workflow. You just let AI do what it can do better than you. In the meantime you, as a content creator or journalist, create more meaningful, high-quality content.
Who benefits from headline testing?
Of course, some companies will see much greater effect from headline testing than others. First of all, these are publishers who get tons of traffic every day. A large amount of traffic lets you track precisely which out of several headline options perform best.
So, the most significant benefits go to:
- News websites
- Digital magazines
Headline optimization tools
All existing tools that designed to work with headlines can be divided into two main groups: headline testers and headline optimizers.
Headline testers, like IO Technologies, allows you test multiple headlines and automatically leave the one that showed better results.
Headline optimizers, like Headline Analyzer, or here is the whole list, allows you to “measure up” your headline to the so-called “best practices.” However, since “best practices” cannot be pulled over every possible case, this type of tool is not the best option.
How does a headline tester work?
Headline Tester by IO Technologies is a breeze-to-use tool that will tell you so much about your assumptions.
Click on the “widget button” below in your dashboard.
In the opened list of your headlines choose the one you wish to work with and hit the “bubble button” next to it.
Add alternative headlines (as many as you want).
Click “run test.”
The software will expose all your headlines to different parts of your incoming traffic and define the winner (it usually takes a few minutes). In the case when there is not enough data to identify the winner – the software will finish the test automatically in an hour.
How IO headline tester defines a winner
We take into consideration three essential metrics when defining the winner of headline testing.
- CTR (click-through rate) – understandable, the number of clicks. The higher – the better.
- Average time on page – we don’t need just clickbait headlines that work for “clicks, gets shocked, closes,” do we? That’s why we don’t just follow how many people clicked on each of your headline but track how much time they spent reading your articles.
- Recirculation – we looked at how many users opted to move further through your website and didn’t leave.
These three metrics allow us to “judge” the performance of your headline variations and leave the one that showed the best results.
We love talking numbers.
The first effect from headline testing integration comes to the surface after a few days. For instance, our clients reported back:
- Pageviews increased by 28% in one week
In fact, the more options you provide, the more pageviews you get.
- Recirculation rate increased by 9% in three weeks
Companies that do headline testing every day experience surge in recirculation. It can be explained by the ability to satisfy reader intent and interest better than competitors. Conducting headline testing every day brings you closer to understanding your audience, thus, it can help you come up with content that is framed by headlines that readers prefer them to be.
How to start using a headline tester?
Surely, not every media company can see the valuable benefits such a simple tool brings. At the same time, many media companies and publishers have already integrated headline testing to improve the effectiveness of their content.
The solution by IO Technologies, for example, is just a small part of what you can implement to double the effect of your content marketing efforts. IO Technologies offers various functions for content performance monitoring, including real-time analytics, calculating readability & recirculation scores, reporting crucial metrics, defining best-performing articles, and much more.
To start using the headline tester and find out whether it’s the right tool for you, book a call with our content specialist. We will answer all your questions.
Read also: How to manage a news homepage
A headline is your single chance to grab the attention of an average web surfer. A strategic, comprehensive headline is not just your article’s title; it’s an identifier for a reader that either connects with their request or not. Solid headlines word as a part of content marketing strategy and serve as hints for readers to make their reading experience smoother.
Would you like to buy ice cream and find a pickle after unwrapping? This is how a reader feels when clicking on a clickbait headline and landing at the page that has nothing to do with its headline. After getting a bad impression, a reader will bounce. A lousy average time spent on page, high bounce rate will take you no further than to complete loss of trust in your content and, consequently, losing in rankings.
Headline test is an experiment of showing multiple variants of headlines to different audiences to score each of headlines based on engagement results. The test is run in real-time by analytics tools to instantly define the winner among variants of headlines and leave it, removing all the others.
A/B testing, also known as split testing allows companies to iterate on marketing elements to maximise profits from online marketing. It shapes the best element — images, headlines, design elements, CTA blocks, etc. — according to users’ preferences. A/B tests are conducted by media, e-commerce stores, companies of all sizes to increase conversion rates and user engagement.
First, decide on statistical significance: how big the difference should be between the results to justify your choice of a particular element? Concentrate on key metrics that can help you to achieve defined business goals. Then take action: choose the element that won and adjust your page accordingly.