Interesting headline, right? It doesn’t say very much but it got you to click and read this far, didn’t it?
However you achieve it, the entire point of your headline is to get people to your offer—your landing page, sales letter or other advertisement. There are numerous formulas for writing effective headlines but for new marketers who need to create winning campaigns right now, you can start getting great results with just a little bit of knowledge and a couple of tools.
Your Best Shot
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” is not only the title of a sassy eighties hit by Pat Benatar; it’s also a guiding principle for marketers to keep in mind when creating headlines for their copy.
Consumers are bombarded with hundreds or thousands of sales messages every day—via TV, radio, billboards, email, Internet and even in the public restrooms of some establishments. They are over-marketed and have become quite unwilling to give much time on another ad.
The only “shot” any marketer gets is their headline. If it fails to get peoples’ interest, then the ad fails—period. Don’t assume that prospects will forgive a lame headline and skip ahead to the body of the ad or sales piece. They simply toss it or tune out.
An effective headline can cut through the static drone of the constant marketing barrage that most people experience and engage them to continue reading. The more they read, the more likely they are to buy.
So the more time and thought you can put into your headline, the better. Luckily, you don’t have to write randomly until you hit on something good. There are some proven guidelines.
Make a Promise of Benefit
If you’ve been on the web at all in the last couple years, you’ve seen the ads on the right side of the page that promise to help you lose “belly fat,” right? Those ads get a lot of clicks because people in general are concerned with their looks and their health. These ads communicate the promise of a very desirable benefit to the prospect.
Your headline should always deal with the prospect’s self-interest: How can your product benefit them?
Regardless of product niche, you can write a winning headline by focusing solely on a promise of benefit:
- Lose 7 Pounds in 7 Days
- Get Long-Lasting Energy …
- Stay Asleep All Night, Every Night
- Simple Mineral Ends Arthritis Pain
- Portable Cooler Keeps Beer Ice-Cold for 24 Hours
- Express Lunch—20 Minutes or It’s on Us
All of these headlines clearly state the promise of a desirable benefit. For many kinds of products, this kind of headline works very well.
If you only ever learn one headline-writing skill, this would be the right one.
The headline of this article references those omnipresent online ads you’ve likely seen that refer to one “weird trick” or “weird old secret” for learning a new language, boosting your credit score, or curing diabetes, among others.
These kinds of headlines also deal with the prospect’s self-interest, but they do it with a healthy dose of mystery. “What weird old secret?” it makes you wonder. “Is it something I already know?”
There are many ways to arouse curiosity with your headline:
- Ask a question: “Will You Have Enough Savings to Retire On?” “Can Your Toothpaste Do This?” “Do You Make These Common English Mistakes?”
- Start with the words like “this,” “how/how to” “why,” or “what”: “How to Get More Traffic for Less Money,” “What Movie Stars Use for a Great Complexion,” “Why Some People Almost Always Make Money in the Stock Market,” or “This Turned a $35 investment into $15,234.”
- Create a fascination: “The One Book No Marketer Should Be Without,” “The ‘Health Miracle’ Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About,” “It’s like Steroids for Your Conversion Rate,” or “Turn Your Computer into an ATM.” Fascinations are typically short bits of copy found in bullet-pointed lists in a sales letter or landing page. They transmit a benefit with a healthy dose of mystery. But you can take a “fascination approach” for your headline as well.
The above examples were generated in about 10 minutes. With a focus on creating curiosity and with a bit of practice, you will eventually find that you can easily knock out interest-grabbing headlines whenever you need them.
There is no substitute for an effective headline. It’s where the marketer-prospect relation begins (or fails to begin).
Promise of benefit is the irreducible minimum for a headline, but if you can routinely produce headlines that both arouse curiosity and contain a promise of benefit, you will be miles ahead of many marketers and you will see it reflected in your conversion rates.