What makes good marketing copy? In a word, headlines.
Headlines are the single most important part of any copywriting, and they’re even more important when you’re trying to market effectively.
Without a great headline, no piece of copy will ever reach its potential.
Sadly, most headlines are terrible. And that means that most copy does a miserable job of converting. So, if you want to convert more prospects, you need to write engaging headlines. Doing this effectively is an essential technique of really good copywriting… and once you see how much a good headline improves your sales, you’ll never look back.
Wondering how you can transform lackluster headlines into incredible ones? Here are 22 ways to write better headlines — and improve existing ones.
- Take out any word that doesn’t paint a vivid picture.
- Spend twice as much time writing your headlines as you do on your body copy. You should have pages of revision when you’re done.
- Ask yourself, “what exactly is someone going to get out of reading this page?” Then remove everything that doesn’t lead directly to that goal.
- Ask a question. A very specific question. Make it one that every one of your readers will answer “yes!” (or “no!”) to. The answer should appear so obvious that people would feel weird or uncomfortable disagreeing with what you say.
- Be direct: make a statement that your prospect will immediately identify with and want to know more about.
- Be controversial. Make a claim that sounds outlandish, then prove it. Conclusively. Over and over and over.
- Make your headline specific: use exact numbers, percentages, place names.
- Tell a story. Use speech. Think like a writer, not a marketer, and write an opening that will be answered by the rest of your copy.
- Take your current headline and rewrite it as though your prospect was explaining it to someone else. Then rewrite it. And rewrite it. And rewrite it. Use these “drafts” as sub-headlines. This is a personal favorite of mine.
- Address your headline to a specific person. “To men who want to quit work someday,” “to parents of a difficult child”.
- Make sure your headline uses the words, phrases and ideas your audience does. Remove any words that you haven’t actually heard your prospects say.
- Be bold. Don’t be afraid to use CAPS, exclamations! and other attention-getting devices. They work.
- Take out every adjective and replace them with totally different ones.
- Cut out every noun from your headline. Does it still say something that is intriguing, inspiring, interesting or otherwise worth reading?
- Make an offer they’d feel stupid not to take advantage of.
- Tell your prospects “WHY”: “Why even YOU can use this,” “Why EVERYTHING you were told about xyz is WRONG”, Why the FDA slammed the door on the greatest natural cholesterol-buster you can get.”
- Talk only about the things in your offer that are the most unusual, interesting, rare, or unexpected. Don’t discuss the things that your customers expect, or the things that your competitors also have.
- Tack on qualifiers. Take an offer that sounds good (“make $3,000 faster than you can tie your shoes!”) and add a second or third level that makes it almost unbelievable (“…without having to spend a dime!”)
- Make the reader interested by asking if they’d want your results. Don’t say “tired of losing weight?” (it’s boring, and doesn’t go anywhere). Say “who ever heard of a woman who lost weight– while eating pizza all day long?” Don’t say “would you want to make $4,000 in a weekend?”: say “would you invest $120 if you were guaranteed $5,500 or more– by next week?”
- Imply a level of secrecy or intimacy: “…this xyz secret method shows you how to…” Make readers of your copy feel like they’re being included in something special. This can be done in a cheesy way, or it can be incredibly engaging. It’s all up to you.
- Introduce a problem the reader must respond to immediately, using words like “this” and “these”: “Do you make these mistakes in English?”
- State the problem, agitate the problem, then present the solution. This one comes from Dan Kennedy, and it’s brilliantly simple.
- (bonus!) Ask a “burning question” that doesn’t have an answer, but that everyone wants answered. This works best if, by answering it at all, your prospect realizes they don’t want to be left out: (“Why do French woman never get fat?” “What if you’re actually killing yourself by exercising?” “What if drinking ___ made you live forever?”)
Now, get out there and get writing!