3 Tips For Writing Better Headlines
The single most important element of your website's copyis the headline. Take away practically everything elseand you can still manage a sale (if the headline's good enough and you have a strong enough call to action). But take away theheadline and your chances for any success are about zero.
Why is this?
Simply put, your headline is the magnet for your copy. It'sthe "door" through which people enter your world of persuasion.Make it appealing enough and theyll step through the door. Failto make it appealing and they'll walk on by.
If you want to pull in customers, you need to be able to writegood headlines. And in order to write good headlines, you need tounderstand a few fundamental principles of the craft. Here are3 quick tips for writing better headlines for your website. Takethese to heart and you'll find writing headlines a lot less painful.
1. Understand the true purpose of a headline
First off, you need to have a clear understanding of what yourheadline is doing there. From all the confusion I see on websites,it's safe to say that many people don't understand the purposeof having a headline up there in the first place.
So what is the purpose of a headline?
Your headline's basic purpose is to get the reader interested enoughto continue reading.
Not to make the sale. Not to be clever or artistic. Not to offer a riddle for them to solve.
It's just to get them into your copy so they'll read the next thing afteryour headline!
Think of your headline as the first step in a journey. Taking a journey isa pretty major thing. People don't do it lightly. They have to genuinelybelieve they'll get something worthwhile out of reading your copy beforethey'll take the plunge.
Readers come in all shapes and sizes, since they're people plain and simple,after all. But in general, readers of your copy have certain basic characteristics.A big one for your website copy's purposes is the "skimmer" mentality.
Most people are "skimmers". I'm sure you skim a lot yourself. I know I doregularly. Very few of us are willing to sit down and read every word inevery ad or newspaper story or magazine article just for the fun of it. Sowe glance at the headline quickly and decide in a split second whether ornot we're going to continue reading. If it's compelling enough and clearenough, we'll read more.
Assume that every person who comes to your website will only skim your headline. Even if your reader is the most perfect prospect you could possibly find for your product or service, they'll most likely still skim read your headline.
So you need to work out specific strategies and tactics for getting these skimmers'attention.
2. Get their attention and target a strong emotion
There are three standard ways to get attention with your headline. These have been proven by copywriters for many decades now.
In their order of effectiveness they are:
1. Go after your prospect's self-interest
2. Offer your prospect news
3. Try to arouse your prospect's curiosity
Appealing to your prospect's self-interest is the most effective single methodyou can use to get their attention. Offer the reader something they want and canget from you -- a direct benefit. Here are two simple, generic examples of self-interest direct benefit headlines:
Add Another $1,000 A Month To Your Income
Want To Impress And Delight Your Friends And Family?
When appealing to your reader's self-interest, you must target a strong emotion. The first example above targets people's desire for more money. Most regular folks would certainly like to have another thousand dollars a month coming in. The second example targets people's sense of pride. Practically everybody wants to feel more important and look good in the eyes of their friends and family.
Your product or service has a strong emotional appeal built into it (if you haven'tfound it yet you'll need to do so right away). And there may even be more than one emotion involved. If so, then use the one which is the strongest and most positive for yourheadline.
Fear is an example of a negative emotion. Sure, you can sell using fear in a headline, but it's a dicey way to do business and can backfire on you. You could alienate your reader. Better to bring the fear angle in later in your copy in a "quieter" way, if you have to use it.
I once fell for a product because of a fear-mongering headline and fear-laden copy. Andto this day I hold a grudge against that marketer. He'll never get any of my businessagain.
Remember to keep your target market's wants and desires in the front of your mind atall times. Find specific problems they have and need solutions for and use thatknowledge to make your headline more targeted.
3. Combine methods and/or bring in your product or service to be even more specific
If you can combine two or even all three of these attention-getting methods in your headline, then so much the better. Using our headline examples from above, we could combine them like this:
Amazing New Report Reveals Simple Method For Adding $1,000 A Month To Your Income
Famous Conjurer's New Book Shows How You Can Easily Learn Memory Tricks That Will Impress And Delight Your Friends
These two headlines bring in news and even a bit of curiosity. And they're much more specific and targeted because they refer to the actual product being offered. That's a good thing.
But you don't need to combine attention-getting methods to make your headline morespecific. By just adding your product or service you'll do a lot. Going back to ouroriginal headline examples, we can use only the self-interest angle (which, remember,is the most effective attention-getting method) and still make things much more specific.
Add Another $1,000 A Month To Your Income With My Proven Trading Service
Impress And Delight Your Friends With These Simple Memory Tricks Anybody Can Learn
With your own product or service it should be fairly easy to follow this sameroute and craft a workable headline. But spend some time on it. The great copywriterTed Nicholas says he spends 90% of his copywriting time on the headline. And youshould do the same!
Remember, a decent headline not only grabs your reader, it also makes your jobeasier when writing the rest of your copy. The copy will flow smoothly out of thatgood headline, because the "table has been set", so to speak.
So go to it and write that good headline. You'll be amazed at the differenceit makes for you.
Copyright © 2005 by Bruce Carlson
Veteran educator and freelance writer Bruce Carlson would like to help you improve your online copywriting. Sign up for his highly informative Dynamic Copywriter newsletter at: http://www.dynamic-copywriting.com
Are Long Copy Salesletters Scams?
A passionate debate is currently raging in the Copywriters Forum about long versus short copy. (If you haven't joined, do so. Click the "register" link the top. It's free. There are tons of tips from other very successful copywriters.)The debate was originally sparked by a comment a very well-known Fortune 500 "guru" made about Armand Morin's AudioGenerator.com.I love it, because debate ignites passion, provides insigh...(related: Copywriting)
5 Deadly Copywriting Mistakes That Kill Sales
Chances are that you are making many, if not all, of these 5 copywriting mistakes. I call them "deadly" because theyre killing your sales and your profits.Let me make you a bold promise: examine your own sales copy and eliminate these copywriting mistakes, and you will see an instant improvement in your sales.L...(related: Copywriting)
How To Become A Freelance Copywriter In New York
As a freelance copywriter in New York, your work is never done.What?Do you mean to say that it is hard to find regular freelance writing jobs, even here in New York City?For those looking to succeed, employment is hard to find only because we lack the knowledge of where to find the work we want. However, for a freelance copywriter, New York is an excellent place to start working. In fact there may be no better place, actually.With this city, it's all about being the first to get your resume in, right?Well, 'hurry up and rush' is ...(related: Copywriting)
The Five Rules Of Influential Web Writing
Building a professional reputation requires a campaign founded on your words: the positions you endorse, the motions you advocate, the accuracy of your vision. Writing for the Web can either establish your expert credibility or destroy it.When your business requi...(related: Copywriting)
How To Make A Career Out Of Copyediting And Proofreading
Do you possess the qualities of a good proof reader? Are you good with details, spotting errors in spelling, grammar, and the flow of a piece and putting together quality work? If so, you may be able to make a career out of copyediting or proofreading. For those looking to get in to this field of copywriting, they may be stuck looking in if they do not know where or how to get established. So, i...(related: Copywriting)
More Insider Secrets To Great Copywriting - Judging Your Target Market
This week we're going to reinforce the training that Recruits of my Red Hot Copywriting Bootcamp are drilled on. In case you didn't read my last article we covered what you MUST do before you write a single word of copy. Each weekday we build on your skills of creating your copy from the ground up following my Field Guide. By the end of this copywriting...(related: Copywriting)
10 Tips For Writing Effective Web Copy
On the Internet programmers and designers rule, not the writer. Yet words drive targeted traffic to your site, carry content, make the sale, convey marketing messages, persuade people to buy and make the difference between your site's success or failure.Here are 10 tips for writing effective web copy:1. Make sure content is easy to readIn the online world, less is nearly always more. Write your copy for the impatient, onl...(related: Copywriting)
Freelancers Can Jump-start Your Publicity Initiative
If you find that your progress is blocked by a lack of time or experience, consider hiring a freelancer to jumpstart your project.Writer's block got you down? Don't let it. Every town has a freelance writer who can help you get a release or article written quickly. Or you can search for one nationally on one of the free classified ad sites like Craig's List.A good freelance writer can take your information over the phone and create the piece that you are looking for.True, writing is not rocket science, and you can do it yourself. But if you find you're procrastinating, put a writer on your team. You can pretty much rent 'em by the hour or the project, so you'll pay only for what you...(related: Copywriting)
Copywriter Rates, Getting The Facts Beforehand
Have you ever had the experience of hiring a freelance copy writer only to find that the project takes longer than expected, or that the fees they offered are 'flexible' in the wrong way for you to benefit. There is no doubt that copywriter rates differ greatly from one to another. There is very little in the way of a standard rate especially when you are dealing with clients through the Internet. To ensure you don't get taken for a ride, you need to get...(related: Copywriting)
A Copywriting Lesson From Dr. Seuss
Looking for inspiration for your next marketing communication? Try the children's bookshelf.Dr. Seuss has entertained young (and old) audiences for nearly 50 years with titles such as "The Cat in the Hat," "Hop on Pop" and "Green Eggs and Ham."The reason why his books remain so popular says something about what makes for good writing (and reading), no matter who the audience is.Nouns and VerbsNothing keeps readers moving like strong noun-verb combinations. If the sentence were a train, nouns and verbs would be the engine. Adjectives, adverbs and the other parts of speech make the train longer and slower. Dr. Seuss' sentences have strong engines pulling light loads to kee...(related: Copywriting)
10 Tips For Tech-writers
Tech-writing is a tricky business. It's not a very high profile industry, so there's not much support around. Follow these 10 quick tips, and you'll be well on your way to a satisfying tech-writing career.1) Follow a sensible career path?
- ...(related: Copywriting)
How To Write Headlines That Grab Your Prospects Attention
It doesn't matter if you're writing an article, a newspaper or magazine ad, a web page, or even a Y...(related: Copywriting)
The Power Of Saying You Can
If you have children, you will doubtless remember saying to them, "You can do it."It's what we say when our toddlers first struggle to their feet.It's what we say when they face their first day at school, when they first ride a bicycle, or first swim a full len...(related: Copywriting)