writing_better_headlines

How to Write Better Headlines

Copywriting Guide and Tips

Sales Writing: How to Create Attention Grabbing Headlines

Once you learn how to create attention grabbing headlines, then you’re a lot closer making people want to pull out their credit cards to buy your product or service. Writing good copy takes skill and experience – however, there are some proven formulas that will get you on your way to being able to achieve this.

When you browse through a magazine or the newspaper you only read a few of the ads. You don’t have the time or even the interest in reading them all. Some of them might be promoting goods that are of great interest to you, but you’ll skip by them. There are so many ads competing for your attention and then there’s also all the other emails, websites, letters and television content doing all that it can to catch your eye.

This is why it’s essential that as a copywriter, you put your efforts into creating a compelling and attention grabbing headline. Whether you are writing an ad, a blog or a piece of content for your site, putting a little effort into creating headlines that attract the attention of your readers is well worth it and you’ll be financially rewarded.

Professional advertisers know that they have just 3-5 seconds to get the attention of a reader, if nothing stands out then they’ll move on.

David Ogilvy, the marketing advertising guru says:

“The headline is the most important element in most advertisements. It is the telegram which decides whether the reader will read the copy.On average five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

 Before we get started, be aware that you’ll rarely be able to create the optimal headline straight off – no copywriter can. It will take brainstorming, editing and possibly a bit of daydreaming for something powerful to emerge.

Target your market

One of the most important steps in the copywriting process is knowing your audience – inside and out. You should be aware of their concerns, fears and what excites them before you write a single word. All of your writing has to be about your reader, not about you.

Before you even start thinking about writing anything – you’ve got to be absolutely clear about the type of people that your product or service will appeal to. You need to know what problems they have that you’re offering can solve. You need to spell out the benefits of why somebody should be interested in what you’ve got – this needs to resonate clearly in your headline.

The headline is the most important piece of any copy. It’s the biggest piece of bait that you can use to encourage your reader to carry on reading to the next line. Then you have to convince them to read the next line, etc.

“What’s in it for me?”


As with all copy, it’s important to clearly communicate the answer to the reader’s question ‘what’s in it for me?’ Why would they want to continue reading and spend time reading your copy – what reward is there? Whether it’s your blog post, your article or your ad you need to include the most outstanding benefit in the headline. Stick to just one idea, if you go with more you’re at risk of diluting your headline and therefore it won’t have the same powerful punch!

The Most Effective Headline Types

There are a handful of headline types that have been found to be highly effective. Proven over time, these headline types have sold billions of dollars worth of products and they give copywriters a great starting point when coming up with their own.

Of course, you can test your own approaches, but these proven headlines have been effective in thousands of ads. They can and should be taken to recycle, edit and apply to your own products so that they grab the attention of your readers. Remember that good copywriting isn’t so much about reinventing the wheel when it comes to writing, it’s about making sales.

So what are these most effective headline types?

  1. The question headline can capture attention by asking a question that the reader really does want to know the answer to. For example ‘How Much Oven Downtime Does Your Baking Company Suffer?’.
  2.  A command headline tells the reader what to do, such as ‘Sign Up for Our Oven Repair Service Now’
  3. Testimonial headlines such as ‘How I Baked 20% More with the Same Number of Ovens in One Year’
  4. Reason why headlines such as ‘Reasons Why You Should Sign up with Mike’s Oven Repair Service’
  5. Direct headlines that get straight to the point. “This Weekend – 30 Percent Off All Carpets” conveys the full marketing message immediately and directly. Retailers use these types of headlines in newspaper ads.
  6. The indirect headline that makes the reader want to find out more. For example, this headline from the Wall Street Journal has a double meaning “Makers of Military Drones Take Off”. It invokes a level of curiosity as it attracts attention.
  7. The news style headline is great for introducing new products or for business news. For example “Introducing New Gadget for Removing Hairs Painlessly” or even with a double entendre – “New Service Keeps Bakers At It” for an oven repair service will attract attention.
  8. ‘How to’ headlines communicate clearly why somebody should read more. This is one of the most powerful types of headlines to write. The payoff for spending his time reading is clear to the reader. ‘How to Get a Golden Tan on Any Complexion Without Burning’, ‘How to Bake Bread That Your Children Want to Eat Everyday’ .
  9. Headlines should be fairly short. Some of the most well received ad headlines over the years have used 8 words or less. For best effect, don’t use more than 15.

Where to get inspiration for attention-grabbing headlines

Many copywriters use headline swipe files to give them a little help. Here is a collection of headlines for you to recycle from. Swipe files provide generic headlines that have worked well in other campaigns, a space is left for you to add a verb and/or your own product. Of course, every market has its own nuances so take care to select a headline that will work well in your market. Headlines can be tested for their effectiveness through Google Adwords, in a blog post or even on social media such as Twitter to judge the likely response from them before scaling up to a full sized sales page.

Formatting essentials

Research has proven that if you use a capital letter at the beginning of each word, it’s more attention grabbing in a headline than not. It’s also proven that black writing with a white background is most effective. Also, consider using “quotations” to catch the eye.

Using SEO When You Create Attention Grabbing Headlines on Web Pages

The headline tag is one of the most important parts of any webpage when it comes to search engine optimization. It’s what tells Google what your page is about and will go towards Google’s determination of where your page fits into the search results index and where it will ultimately be displayed on the results page. If possible, use your chosen keyword closer to the beginning of the headline as you will fare better with your results.

Persuasive and Attention-Grabbing Words to Use

Here is a selection of words that have been found to be highly persuasive when it comes to copy: You, You’re, Your, Proven, Guaranteed, Winning, Breakthrough, Amazing, Shocking, Remarkable, Surprise, Increase, Reduce, Why, Mind-blowing, Daring, Greatest, Secrets, New

Action Steps to Take to Create a Powerful Attention-Grabbing Headline:

  1. Do your homework. Learn as much as possible about who your target audience is:-their desires, wants, needs and problems.
  2. Think about the benefits and the features of the product or service from the point of view of your audience. Write them down.
  3. Write several headlines that highlight these benefits. Refer to the headline swipe file pdf for ideas. Remember the more you pique your readers interest, the more likely it is that they will read the rest of your copy and stay the course to see your call to action.
    Once you have selected the hardest hitting headline, you’ll be left with some choice subheadings to use throughout your copy.
  4. Your copy has to be believable and honest, be sure not to lose that ideal when you create your attention-grabbing headline too. 

 

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