MMC Blog

5 Ws and H

Can You Write Better Headlines by Asking a Question?

Although a great many copywriters and editors may point to the adage credited to British technology journalist Ian Betteridge, which argues that any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no, increasingly you’re seeing digital copywriters composing content that starts with a question. Want to know why?

It’s all about the Search Engines.

Increasingly users enter questions into search engines, as opposed to simply searching for a topic. Think about it: if you want to know how to do something, do you query “ride a bicycle” or do you enter “how to ride a bicycle?” Most likely is the later. And if you’re on a mobile device, the likelihood of querying Google or Siri or Alexa with a question is further multiplied. “How do I change a tire?” or “What is the best Indian restaurant near me?” are likely interactions.

As a result, copywriters and the Internet are responding, rewarding users with content well-aligned with the way they search that uses a Q&A format to facilitate engagement.

So much attention is being paid to this approach that tools like AnswerThePublic have popped up to aid marketers in identifying the most popular questions, essentially creating a starting point for email, social media, blog and web copywriters for creating the most appealing content for their desired audiences. Provide AnswerThePublic with your product or service category and voila, it not only provides a list of popular questions but maps them to the 5 Ws and H.

You Should Still Be Concerned About the NO

Even with great tools in hand for generating questions, there is still room for error and an ultimate flop with the reader so be careful about what and how you ask and try to avoid yes/no questions and instead:

  • Ask Questions that Intrigue: Why are employees the leading cause of security breaches?
  • Ask Questions that Invite Engagement: How do you setup multi-factor authentication?
  • Ask Questions that Offer More Information: What are the best password applications?
  • Ask Questions that are Timely: When is the best time to upgrade to Microsoft Windows 11?

Whether your next writing exercise is a byline article for a national business magazine or a blog post for your personal website, it may be time to avoid the inclination to start with something witty or comical, no matter how inspired you feel, and consider kicking things off with a question. Could it really hurt?

This post is courtesy of MMC Principal Jennifer Koon

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