Your copy is only as good as your headline.
Your copy won't do any good if the consumer doesn't get past your headline.
Just consider how much content anyone runs into every day. They have to be selective about what's worth reading and what's irrelevant because there's a lot of irrelevant info out there.
In fact, it's estimated that about 80% of people who read your headline won't even continue to read the rest of your copy.
That's a problem.
And your headline should address that problem and capture the reader's attention so they can be drawn into the rest of your copy.
But a good headline is more than that, it's a necessity if you're looking to maximize your conversions.
Whether you're dropping a new product, advertising a service, or even writing a blog post, your headline comes first. Literally and figuratively.
It needs to be compelling and engaging all while delivering a complete message to a specific audience.
To achieve that, it should do at least one of the following:
Clearly, there are a lot of moving parts...
But it's simple when you break it all down.
Because there's an easy way to make sure your headline hits the mark: The Four U's.
As usual, the audience has to be taken into account.
The most important things are what they're looking for and what kind of value your offer could provide for them.
Because more than anything, what they want from you is to help solve a problem they have.
If they don't see a potential benefit in your headline, you can bet that they won't consider reading any further.
So it's crucial to highlight that benefit, whatever it may be, as soon and as clearly as possible.
Something like "How I Learned To Make Money Online" isn't all that appealing because it implies that it's about you, the writer.
A way to improve this is to focus on the reader and would look something like "You Can Make $2,000+ A Month From The Comfort Of Your Own Home... Even In Your PJs."
When the focus is shifted to the reader, the headline is applicable to them. Even if the content within the page is helpful, they'll never know if the headline doesn't imply that.
It's safe to assume that any reader is looking for the fastest solution to whatever their problem is. So consider the following:
Will your headline push the consumer to take the action you want?
If not, one of the best ways to give them that extra push is to create a sense of urgency. And one of the best ways to do that is to imply time-sensitivity.
"Start Your $1M Business Today," appeals to someone looking to get started as soon as possible. "Today" is powerful in this case as it illustrates how accessible the beginning steps are.
Taking it one step further, a limited-time offer can prove very effective, for example, "Get Our Best Deal Ever For One Week Only."
If there's a short window of time, the reader would be wise to capitalize on that so they don't miss out.
This works on the basis that they will feel some sort of pain if they don't check your offer out. And that can be just as effective as demonstrating the benefits.
Consumers have plenty of options, and they're well aware of that.
So an offer should stand out amongst countless others like it because the quality of an offer or product isn't enough to rely on...
Especially for a small business that's competing with trusted, established corporations.
Two different approaches can be used to set an offer apart in a meaningful way:
The first is to provide use that the competitors don't.
Take a company selling kitchen appliances, for example. The main use of any appliance is as a tool, something that makes a mundane daily chore easier.
But not every appliance has a stylish look that complements someone's design choices. This could be a great angle. A good headline might read like "Make Your Kitchen Your New Favorite Room With Our Stylish Appliances."
Of course, with such a saturated market it can be hard to offer something that isn't commonplace. In that case, your best bet is to spin the offer in a unique way.
An auto insurance company might advertise something like "You Never Saw That Abyss Of A Pothole Coming... That's Why We're Here."
This provides a unique scenario, something that people can relate to, more than just "We Offer Full Coverage Auto Insurance." It also serves the purpose of surprising the reader, because most would expect the latter headline.
Even small details can generate more interest in a popular service.
The consumer should know exactly what's being offered as soon as they read a headline.
The quicker they have all the details, the more likely they are to have an interest. And that always means more conversions.
Take a look at this headline: "How To Cook A Steak." Sure, it truthfully tells the reader what to expect, but it's bland and doesn't stand out in any sense.
Adding some detail can make a world of difference: "Cook A Juicy, Restaurant-Quality Steak From Your Very Own Kitchen In Under 30 Minutes."
The use of detail makes the offer more desirable. A restaurant-quality steak cooked at home is sure to save some money and time, and anybody could benefit from that.
Along with details, specific numbers are particularly useful in headlines. This is because they help with readability and allow the audience to quantify an offer more quickly.
"Here Are Some Great Ways To Lose Weight" doesn't quite catch the eye like "6 Amazing Tips To Lose 10 Pounds In 2 Weeks."
Losing weight sounds great on its own, but most people know that diet and exercise can accomplish that. Getting specific can make the offer sound more realistic and more doable.
These four concepts are essential to writing a headline that converts. But you're not likely to use them all at once, so don't worry if you can't.
Even if just one is used correctly, it can make a headline into a conversion-machine.
But as a rule, focus on urgency last. Nudging someone to take action without compelling reasons usually won't work.
With that out of the way, it's time to look at where these concepts are most useful.
Remembering the Four U's will always serve you well, but are much more effective if you know which formats work best.
There are plenty of choices to suit your needs best, so let's take a look at some of the most consistently successful methods.
The direct headline is exactly that. And while very simple, direct headlines can work extremely well.
The best case for their use is when a deal speaks for itself. There's no need to embellish or use clever wordplay.
A direct headline would be something like "Get Our Pro Package For Just $29.99." It just cuts to the chase because the offer is good enough to stand on its own.
An indirect headline is much more subtle and arouses interest by omitting information. The reader should be engaged and asking questions.
In other words, clickbait.
Whether you despise clickbait or jump at the chance to use it, you have to admit that it can be very effective.
A headline like "You Won't Believe How Much Time You'll Save..." is sure to grab attention, because most people tend to want to save time.
This type of headline is only appropriate in certain cases, like when you actually have news to share.
Anything from a new product, a product update, or some new relevant information.
Whatever it is, it should be relevant and interesting to the reader and doesn't need much embellishment.
If a product was improved upon, it could sound something like this, "Harness The Power Of Our Newest Update: Laser 4.0."
You've seen plenty of these, and that's because they work.
The idea is so simple yet effective. The reader wants to solve a problem, the headline tells them that they can learn how to solve their exact problem.
That's probably what led you to read this blog post, right?
Well, the same idea can be applied to just about anything.
Advertising an investment firm?"How You Can Secure Your Retirement" could be a perfect pitch to entice clients who want to do exactly that.
Asking a question is simple, but for this headline to be effective, the question should be something interesting to the consumer.
Think about a question regarding your offer the consumer would like the answer to, something relevant.
A potential lead might be interested in something that sounds like "What If You Could Work From Home And Make A Small Fortune?"
The command headline can work wonders, but some nuance is required. Readers don't necessarily want to feel like they're outright being told what to do.
But they do want to benefit from whatever it is you're offering.
A good balance is required and could look like "Upgrade To Our Full Suite And Get Even More."
You both benefit in this situation, but the way the headline is written causes the reader to focus on their own potential benefit.
Another widely-used headline, the "reason-why" provides benefits to using or downsides to not using something.
Consider what makes the product or service worthwhile. As with any of these headlines, focus on the benefit you can provide.
"8 Ways To Streamline Your Business" is simple and effective, and surely anyone with a business would be interested.
This type of headline isn't always applicable but provides a number of benefits when it's utilized.
Of course, anybody trying to sell something is only going to say good things about it. But it sounds a lot more valid when a customer can back that up.
It's pretty simple as long as you have legitimate testimonials like "I Never Thought I'd Be Hitting These Conversion Rates..."
And always remember to use quotation marks to make it clear that someone else is talking.
Now that we have all the pieces, let's see what it takes to turn them into something that works.
Even if you know what goes into a great headline, you can still fall short.
The thing is, you need to know how they fit together as well.
And the first step to that is...
You guessed it, knowing your audience. You have to know how to appeal to your average potential customer, and what matters to them.
With that in mind, the features of the product should be thought of as potential benefits. What's the most relevant value you can provide for the reader?
The next step is to write some different headlines using that information. Writing different headlines helps you compare different ideas, and allows you to see which might be the most effective.
Try using every method and see what works best.
More is better when testing out headlines, so don't be shy and experiment with as many variations as you need to.
Once you find the best fit, try refining it. Add detail, change the wording, whatever could help to make your headline have the most impact.
Another good idea is to compare the headline with any similar past headlines. Look at the analytics and see how well they did.
If it flopped before, the best choice is to go a different route and change it up to something that's worked better before.
There are plenty of options and variables so with a little tweaking you should have a great, high-converting headline in no time.
So now you have an idea of how to craft a high-converting headline, but maybe you could use some more specific examples.
Well, you're in luck...
There are countless formulas that are proven to work, and I'll share a few with you to give you an even better head start.
Let's take a look.
This template operates on a hypothetical and an appeal to consensus desire. You already know that your prospect is going to want your offer, so this is an excellent way to present it.
This would look something like "Who Else Wants To Maximize Their Profits?" Well, everybody does, and they want to find out how.
This one may be overused, but there's a good reason for that...
And there's really not much to it. You appear as an authority and you share something that others may not know, but definitely want to know.
A good example would be "The Secret Of Writing Successful Facebook Ads." Clearly, that can be an issue for many people, and you're providing the way to solve it.
A straightforward method, this one works very well. At least it does when you identify what kind of benefit you can provide to your audience.
"Here's A Method That's Helping Business Owners Generate Conversions" is effective because it addresses the intended audience and a specific problem that you can solve for them.
This is basically the same sentiment as "The Secret Of..." but written in a different way. And that different wording can go a long way considering how popular "The Secret Of..." headlines are.
A headline that stands out might look like "Little Known Ways To Save Money Every Day." It sounds a bit more believable than some ultimate secret, and having multiple ways to achieve the goal is more appealing.
Hitting on a pain point is always effective, and that's what this kind of headline does. Just identify a problem or desire that your audience might have.
Something like "Stop Overpaying For Gas Once And For All" would be effective, because just about anybody would benefit from that.
When something is quick and easy, it's much more appealing to anyone. After all, any audience is looking for the best and fastest ways to solve their problems.
So use that fact and write something like "Here's A Quick Way To Lose 10 Pounds." That's something that can take a lot of time for people and can seem daunting.
But if you can put your audience on a fast track to their goal, then they're likely to be much more receptive.
This headline operates on the "have your cake and eat it too" idea. You're providing multiple benefits, and that's usually a good thing to anyone reading.
This is pretty versatile and you have plenty of options with any offer, so get creative. If you're offering personal storage spaces you could use a headline like "Now You Can Get Rid Of Clutter And Keep Your Things Safe."
This type of headline appeals to the fact that people know who or what they want to be like. So think about someone or something desirable in relation to your offer.
For someone selling car tires, a headline that reads something like "Stick To The Road Like An F1 Driver" would be effective. Sure, it's exaggerating, but any auto enthusiast would love to get the most out of their car.
This headline works on the idea that people are always unsatisfied with something in their life. So play on that and figure out something your audience might want to change for the better.
Say you build websites. Well, what are your prospects looking for? "Have An Online Presence You Can Be Proud Of" identifies what you can do for your audience, and it's safe to assume they want that benefit.
This last type of headline works on people's curious nature. Because who doesn't want to know something they're missing out on?
Whatever you're offering can be plugged in here with ease. Offering SEO services? Just use something like "What Everybody Should Know About Boosting Your SEO Ranking." Simple as that.
For such a small part of your copy, headlines sure carry a lot of weight.
The fact that they're so short means that they need to be polished, maybe even more than the rest of your copy.
Every word counts...
And the way those words are put together can mean the difference between success and failure.
Luckily, with so many variables, there are almost limitless options for writing an effective headline.
But there's no one-size-fits-all solution, so try every avenue until you find something that works.
Because every potential lead needs a different appeal to convert.
And if you still need some assistance while you hone your skills, I'm always here to help.
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High-converting direct-response copy for growing B2B companies and disruptive digital brands.