Whether it’s for a blog or a sales letter, the ultimate goal of your headline is to grab the interest of your readers immediately. In this web 2.0 age, your readers are constantly being bombarded by people vying for their attention. The only chance you have of being successful is to write a great headline that makes them keep reading.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a great writer to come up with powerful headlines. There are several simple tricks you can incorporate immediately to take your headlines from boring to click-worthy.
• The How to Headline—It only makes sense to start with the how to headline since that’s the one I used for this blog. How to headlines are great because they are so basic and clear. As soon as you read the headline “How to Improve Your Headlines Instantly,” you knew exactly what this post would be about. And once you know what it’s about, your curiosity is bound to be piqued wondering exactly how to do it. How to headlines also deliver the top benefit immediately to the reader which is an important part of any headline.
• The List Headline—Like the how to headline, list headlines are very clear, and they also immediately state the benefit, answering the “What’s in it for me?” question. This blog could have easily been titled “5 Ways to Improve Your Headlines Immediately.” People like lists because they are easy to digest and it just feels more manageable when you know it takes just a few simple steps to achieve the benefit promised in the headline.
• The Risk of Loss Headline—In many cases, the risk of losing something is more compelling to readers than the promise of gaining something. After all, every spam e-mail uses the promise headline (e.g. “Lose 20 pounds this Week!”) so these types of headlines can lose their impact sometimes. That’s why it’s sometimes a good idea to take a negative approach to your headline. In other words, instead of saying “Lose 20 pounds in a week!” say “A Simple Mistake that Keeps You From Losing Weight.” The reader is bound to wonder “What’s the mistake? Am I really making this mistake?”
• The Leading Question Headline—I enjoy question headlines because they have a conversational feel to them, and at the end of the day, that’s exactly what great copywriting is—a conversation. Going back to the losing weight headline, some examples of a question headline are “Are you tired of trying to lose weight?” or “Do you know the secret to losing 20 pounds in a week?”
• The Promise Headline—Earlier, I mentioned how I believe spam e-mails have hurt the credibility of the promise headline. Too many companies make ridiculous promises that they simply can’t keep. Now, the promise headline can still be effective, but here’s the catch: you need to actually deliver on your promise. In other words, if you say “Lose 20 pounds in a week!” you need to have proof in the body of your letter about how this is a legitimate claim. Also, using money-back guarantees can add some credibility to your headline as readers will feel they have nothing to lose.
These are just a few of the ways you can improve your headlines. In the future, I’ll do a follow up to this post giving you even more proven techniques for making your headlines more effective.