The 2 Essential Ingredients of a Brilliant Title
Write content that engineers WANT to read.
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At WriteOps, we work with companies who are trying to sell their technical product. Almost all of them had a go at their own technical content. Their engineers wrote blogs, spoke at meet ups, and organized webinars.
And None of Their Efforts Worked. Why?
The success of their marketing efforts wasn’t a function of money spent, nor were they solely about clever placement of paid ads. This is pretty true in general, but it is an absolute axiom when you’re marketing to the technical class.
Here’s the Problem
You’re not looking for broad traffic to your site. This isn’t a general consumer product, like a bagel slicer or a glow-in-the-dark, leather bodysuit (I don’t judge). It’s a niche product aimed at a lucrative but specialist market.
The question you need to ask yourself isn’t, “How do I get these people to give me their money?” Your problem is more subtle than that. Before you can begin with the money-grabbing fiasco, you’ve got to offer them something. That something is content.
What Mistakes Do People Make With Technical Content?
Technical content walks that narrow path between blog post and a white paper. Blog posts are entertaining to read, but they’re often read for their own enjoyment.
The first mistake people make is to forget that great technical content is a blend of these two disciplines: the sharp and the whimsical.
Start by Promising the Value of a White Paper
Pick a random PhD thesis and read out the title.
Learning Latent Characteristics of Data and Models Using Item Response Theory — John P. Lalor
There are about 28 people in the world that will read that and think “Holy shit, just what I’ve been looking for!” Why? Because it’s specific. If you know what all of these words mean, you’re in the club.
That Feeling of Being Part of the Group
When you see the promise of an answer, you’re not simply scratching the immediate itch. You’re being rewarded for your research by being included. Someone else has solved this for you; someone else has walked this path. Welcome to a community of like-minded people.
You want to emulate that with your content. That is how you build a community around your product, and that community is your ticket to crossing the chasm.
But I’m Guessing You’re Looking to Sell to More Than 28 People, Right?
We’ve established that a specific title can create excitement in the people who understand it. However, if we’re too specific, we exclude most of our potential customers. We need to reign ourselves in and walk that line. Deliver value, but also sell it. So, how do we sell our content?
No, Clickbait Titles With Subpar Content Aren’t the Answer
Clickbait is good for generating ad revenue. It’s terrible for reinforcing the idea that you’re a reputable brand. But some of the tricks that we’ve learned from clickbait are quite potent in the crafting of our titles.
- The claim that EVERY senior engineer knows the contents of the article. (Every senior knows about …)
- A promise that this article is an easy skim (3 tricks to …)
- A counter-intuitive claim that attracts debate (Why you need Java for your DevOps scripts)
These templates can give you starting points, but quickly become tired and a little tortured if you overuse them. What you need to do is understand the essence of a great, tech title.
Specificity and Attraction
What does a specific, attractive title look like?
“How we processed 300 million messages per day on AWS.”
This title is attractive because of its bold claim. 300 million is a lot of messages, and it would have required some serious engineering effort to deliver. But alone, it lacks context.
There’s where the specificity comes in. This is aimed at people who are working on AWS. Your article is targeted at engineers who want to optimise performance on AWS. This club is big enough to be valuable, but small enough to be specific and focused.
In short, you make one promise to solve one problem.
If you enjoyed this article, I’ve written about a variety of technical topics. Follow me on twitter to keep in touch!
And if you need help with your content marketing, WriteOps Ltd specializes in content marketing for technical products.
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