Learning to how to write headlines that captures the reader is absolutely necessary. You have one to three seconds to catch a prospect’s attention online and approximately five seconds if you are sending out a direct mail piece. Therefore, your goal is to catch his or her attention long enough for your prospect to decide to continue reading all of your content.
My mentor, Eugene Schwartz was a veteran direct response copywriter admired by many in the industry. In his book Breakthrough Advertising, he wrote, “your headline has only one job—to stop your prospect and compel him or her to read the second sentence of your ad.” As advertising guru David Ogilvy said, “On the average, 5 times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.”
1. Ask a question.
“With 1 in 2 people getting osteoarthritis in their lifetime, can you afford to ignore your joints?”
A classic headline used for a promotion for Psychology Today was “Do you close the bathroom door even when you’re the only one home?”
What’s one question that comes to mind for you? Write it down now.
2. Give news using words such as “introducing,” “announcing,” “now available” or “new.”
“Announcing ten remarkable ways to stay in shape without exercising daily,” or “Now available, a new report reveals three ways to find lasting love after you’ve kissed your ex goodbye.”
3. Address your prospects’ concerns.
This type of headline helps you push your prospects’ buttons so that, while they’re reading, they are thinking, “Yes, I need/want this. I gotta have it.”
For instance, in 2008 and ’09, people had real concerns about the value of their real estate so this addressed their concerns:
“Facing foreclosure? Here are three questions to ask your lender before they take your home away from you,” or “Need money now? Here are ten legitimate ways to make a quick buck.”
4. Promise something wonderful, but do not lie.
You’ll lose more customers than you gain that way. (Bad news travels fast.) Plus, in this day and age, being honest is top of mind. It builds trust and people respect you when you’re genuine.
For instance, the headline just mentioned “Ten legitimate ways to make a quick buck” better deliver ten ways—sincere and honest ways—that prospects can take advantage of.
Marketing strategist Jim Connolly put it this way, “Using sensational headlines, to get people to open emails or read content, is a super-fast way to lose the trust and respect of your marketplace.” I agree with him; don’t you?
5. Be specific.
This well-known Rolls Royce headline from David Ogilvy did the job: “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.”
6. Give the reader a command—tell him/her to do something.
“Go ahead, throw away this free offer.”
7. Promise your prospects helpful/useful information.
“Five reasons why using numbers in your headlines work” or “Four tips for losing weight without feeling starved for your favorite foods.”
8. Promise to reveal a secret.
“Discover the secret to writing thought-provoking, compelling copy,” or “Explore the secret to connecting and engaging with your prospects.” NOTE: Be sure you do indeed reveal the secret. I’ve said it before and will say it again, bad news travels faster than good when you disappoint your customers.
9. Give your prospects good news.
“You’re never too old to tone your body and be in great shape,” or “How to attract the love of your life without compromising your values.”
10. Target a particular type of reader.
“Do you aspire to write children’s books?”
11. Tie in to current events.
The most well-known example of this is the “Official car (camera, airline, beverage, etc.) of the Olympics.”
12. Highlight your guarantee.
“Lose ten pounds in ten days or your money back.”
Do you have a headline tip you’d like share? Please post your comment below because I’d love to hear from you.
This is an excerpt from Debra Jason’s best-selling book Millionaire Marketing on a Shoestring Budget™: How to Attract a Steady Stream of Happy Clients, Make More Money and Live Your Dream.