The right headline can draw in even the most disinterested reader, luring them in to read the rest of your sales pitch. In the same way, a bad headline can totally turn off a reader who might be very interested in what you’re trying to sell.
While it would be nice to have, there is no specific rule on how to write headlines. That’s because it depends on what your topic is, what the goal of your writing is, and several other factors.
There are, however, some basic rules and guidelines that can help you get started.
How to Write Headlines That Sell
1. Tell them what they’re getting
If you have an interesting or desirable product that no one else has, telling people what you have or what your product can do may be all you need to get the reader to want to see more. The problem is, not all products are that unique or have proven results – but if they do, why waste your time trying to come up with something clever and eye-catching that may just confuse the reader rather than draw them in?
2. Keep them guessing
A good headline should inform the reader what they’re going to be reading about, but keep a little mystery in order to keep them reading. If the headline is totally ambiguous, people will just move on, but a little mystery will pique their interest.
3. Keep it short
There used to be a cardinal rule that a good headline couldn’t be longer than seven words long. While this rule is not always recommended, that doesn’t mean you have to totally throw it out the window. You can have headlines that are longer, but the fewer words you can get your point across in, the better. You can always use your introductory paragraph to elaborate on a catchy but short headline.
Remember, it not only matters what your headline says, but what it looks like. Changing the font or color can make your sales pitch more appealing, but if you go too far, it can just confuse the reader and be painful to the eye.
This seems like an awful lot of thought to put into one line of writing for a blog post that’s 750 words, or a document that may be only a few pages, but it’s not. Often, the headline is the only part the reader sees of your writing. If the headline is good, there’s a better chance they’ll read more (though it’s still low). In fact, the advice is to spend about as much time working on your headline as you do writing the rest of the piece. Yes, it is THAT important.
While the headline is the most important part of any article, blog post, copy, or any written material, it isn’t everything. Every good headline needs to have good material behind it!
4. Study and Practice
When learning how to write headlines, you must study and practice what works. Take a look at sales letters, articles, and anything else with a headline that excites you and dissect what other people are doing.
Ask yourself a few simple questions:
- Why did the headline get your attention?
- Why did it excite you?
- How did the headline make you feel?
- Did it cause you to take action?
Then get to work on your own, and figure out what you’ve written that works, and what doesn’t.
Every Word Counts When Crafting Million Dollar Headlines
You have mere seconds to capture a prospect’s attention. By mere seconds, I mean about three! One of the single most powerful tools you have to accomplish this task is your headline.
There are several keys to a compelling, and selling, headline and a few tips to help you get the job done.
1. Tap into Your Prospects’ Emotions
According to psychologists, our buying decisions are based first and foremost on our emotions. Use headlines which offer your readers a strong emotional benefit or reaction. Some possible emotions are:
For example, The 20-Minute Step that Will Make You a Business Genius taps into readers’ desires to feel smart and powerful.
Other emotions you can tap into are a desire to feel:
- A sense of belonging
- In control of their own destiny
2. Make it Active
To compel it’s important to use active language – language that shows movement and commands attention.
For example, “Stop Your Sugar Cravings Today With This Simple Step” is a fine headline. However it doesn’t command action nor does it really tap into any emotions. However, “Conquer Your Sugar Cravings With This Simple Step” conveys control and power. Conquer is an active and emotionally powerful word. Readers receive the benefit of feeling powerful and in control and it commands action.
3. Let Your Reader Know They’re Important
The word YOU is a very powerful word. It lets your readers feel as if you’re talking to them specifically and interested in solving their problems, issues and helping them achieve their desires. Instead of using I, Me or We in your headlines, use You. Using the headline example above compare the two options:
“Conquer Your Sugar Cravings With This Simple Step” vs. “Conquer Sugar Cravings with Our System.”
Using the word “our” in the second headline is salesy, as you can already guess there’s a specific product (i. the system) the writer wants you to buy.
People want to know what’s in it for them and when they can assess that information in the headline, they’re going to be compelled to continue reading your copy and making a purchase.
Here are three more ideas for powerful headlines:
* Make a promise – Earn $500 a day
* Make it newsworthy – New program guarantees you’ll earn $500 a day.
* Ask a question – Do you want to ensure your financial future?
Now Put It All Together: Three Simple Steps to Write Headlines That Sell
So now you have some ideas about what types of headlines sell, how do you begin to write those powerful headlines?
Step 1 – Get to know your audience intimately.
What are their hopes, dreams, desires, and problems? Understanding your audience will help you create an emotional and powerful headline directed specifically at your audience.
Step 2 – Determine how your products or services are going to make your prospects’ lives better or solve their problems.
For example if you sell fitness equipment and your audience struggles with feeling attractive then you can create a headline that highlights a specific benefit your fitness equipment offers to solve that problem.
Step 3 – Write ten to twenty, yes twenty, possible headlines.
Not only will this give you practice writing compelling headlines, it’ll help you hone in on that perfect headline. And if you think you have a few winners you can always test them for conversion rates to find out which headline is more effective.
Marketing and copywriting experts consider your headline to be the most important element of any effective marketing piece. Take the time to learn how to write headlines that compel and sell, and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.