22 Ways to Write Better Headlines

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.

  1. Take out any word that doesn’t paint a vivid picture.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Be direct: make a statement that your prospect will immediately identify with and want to know more about.
  6. Be controversial. Make a claim that sounds outlandish, then prove it. Conclusively. Over and over and over.
  7. Make your headline specific: use exact numbers, percentages, place names.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Address your headline to a specific person. “To men who want to quit work someday,” “to parents of a difficult child”.
  11. 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.
  12. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to use CAPS, exclamations! and other attention-getting devices. They work.
  13.  Take out every adjective and replace them with totally different ones.
  14. Cut out every noun from your headline. Does it still say something that is intriguing, inspiring, interesting or otherwise worth reading?
  15. Make an offer they’d feel stupid not to take advantage of.
  16. 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.”
  17. 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.
  18. 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!”)
  19. 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?”
  20. 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.
  21. Introduce a problem the reader must respond to immediately, using words like “this” and “these”: “Do you make these mistakes in English?”
  22. State the problem, agitate the problem, then present the solution. This one comes from Dan Kennedy, and it’s brilliantly simple.
  23. (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!

Website Traffic Equals Sales — Or Does It?

If you’ve had an online business for any length of time at all, you recognize the importance of website traffic. You’re keenly aware that no visitors equals no sales. So you’ve put considerable effort into attracting people to your website by writing articles, utilizing Google Adwords, participating in forums, exchanging links, etc., And your hard work has paid off. You’ve earned a respectable position in the search engine results and you’re getting a regular stream of visitors to your website.

But something’s wrong. You’re not getting any sales!

Naturally, there are countless reasons why people don’t buy a certain product or service. For example, it may not be exactly what they’re looking for, the price doesn’t fit their budget, someone else is offering a better deal, etc.

But all too often, the primary reason website visitors aren’t buying is because the website isn’t user-friendly.

What’s a user-friendly website? In simplest terms, it’s a website where your visitors can quickly find what they’re looking for and easily make their purchase.

It encompasses the design and layout, the navigation menu, the sales message, the images, the use of colors and fonts, the general content, the ordering process … in fact, all the elements that make up a website.

But probably the most important element in this list is the navigation menu because if people get lost in your website, they’re going to leave.

A navigation menu needs to clearly show the way through your website. There needs to be enough links to give visitors an overview of your site’s content — but not so many that they have to click repeatedly to reach their desired destination.

It’s been shown that most people are fairly persistent. They’ll click on several links in an effort to find what they want — but the frustration level builds with each additional click.

It’s not unlike trying to call someone at a company and being presented with an automated menu. The voice starts out by giving you variety of options and you enter the one that seems to most closely fit your needs. Then you’re presented with another set of options, so you enter another number – only to be given more options. You try again. Finally, after going down several levels, you may or may not reach the department you originally wanted.

Did you enjoy the experience? Or did you hang up in total frustration?

Always remember that your website visitors are not nameless, faceless entities. They’re real people with real needs. And the more you can help them to find what they want on your website, the better chance you’ll have of making a sale.

The Elements of a Good Ad

As you look through your newspaper, do you ever stop and read some of the ads? When you watch TV, are there some commercials that actually interest you? When your daily junk mail comes in, do you throw it all away or do you keep some to read?

As consumers, we are literally bombarded everyday by advertising. It arrives at the doorstep of our lives in just about every imaginable form — telemarketing, TV and radio commercials, sales letters/postcards, newspaper ads, the Internet, billboards, door hangers, refrigerator magnets, calendars, coupon books — ad infinitum.

MOST of it is ignored. But occasionally, we actually respond to an advertisement. Why? What makes that one advertisement stand out among all the gazillions that we are exposed to everyday?

Because it …

  • Offers something that affects us personally.
  • Immediately shows us the benefits we’ll receive.
  • Helps us to recognize the importance of those benefits.
  • Emphasizes the urgency of purchasing right away.
  • Provides assurance that we won’t be ripped off.

Now … what happens if any of these elements are missing? Simple. The ad is ignored.

If you want your ad to stand out from the crowd, make sure that you (1) direct it to your target audience, (2) clearly show the advantages (benefits) of owning/using your product or service, (3) encourage a quick response by offering limited time bonuses, and (4) always offer a guarantee.

Overcoming Objections

One of the more difficult parts of writing a marketing message is overcoming objections.

When you’re speaking face-to-face, you’re able to hear prospective customers verbalize their concerns and immediately answer them. But when you’re writing sales letters, website copy, direct mail, ad copy, etc., you can’t ‘hear’ the objections so you must ‘think’ for your prospects and imagine what might stand between them and the sale.

Here are a few common objections that could arise as people read your copy and how you might consider dealing with them:

  • “I don’t need/want your product/service” – Oftentimes what this really means is that people don’t see the value of your product or service so they don’t want to spend the money. To overcome this, you must assure them that their life will improve when they buy your product or use your service. How do you do this? By talking about benefits.
  • “I’m not interested” — If the person has come to your website as a result of a search engine or if you are sending your direct mail letter to a targeted audience, you can be fairly confident that they have at least a spark of interest. But if you don’t write your message to further that interest, you’ve lost the sale. This usually means you must address the specific areas in which your product or service will add something to the person’s life (benefits again).
  • “I’m satisfied with my current _________.” — It’s been said that no one is ever entirely satisfied with anything. Assuming this is a truth, you can speak to any dissatisfactions by (1) emphasizing the advantages that your product or service has over your competitors, (2) use testimonials to show how your product/service is different/better than the rest, and/or (3) offer samples to demonstrate your superiority.
  • “What if something happens and I don’t like your product/service?” — This one is easy. Always offer some type of guarantee.

People rarely reach for their credit card unless they’ve been convinced that your product or service is something they want or need. To get them to this point, it’s vital that you see your offering through the eyes of your prospects. Write down the reasons people might not buy from you. Then methodically go through the list and counter each one by writing down the advantages (benefits) they’ll receive when they purchase what you’re selling.

How to Copywrite for More Sales

If your visitor count and your website sales have remained stagnant for several months, it may very well have something to do with the copywriting.

The message you have on your website is one of the most important elements in determining your success on the internet. You may have a great design, excellent graphics, a convenient and safe ordering system, but if you haven’t given your visitors a reason to buy, your sales are going to suffer.

However, you can’t just sit down and write a promotional message about your product or service without knowing how it will affect your intended audience. There must be a strategy behind every word and phrase.

Beyond that, you need to write with the search engines in mind. This means using the appropriate key words and phrases throughout your copy. Not ‘stuffing’ the content, but writing so that visitors, as well as the search engines, ‘get the message.’ It can be a tricky balance, but it is possible.

There are numerous resources on the internet that offer advice and suggestions on how to copywrite effectively. Most of them simply contain the most basic principles of copywriting. Few of them address such important issues as:

  • How to get each of the four personality types to respond to your message
  • How to determine the difference between how men and women buy  – and then using that information to your advantage
  • How to use emotional triggers in your copy to stimulate the buying process
  • Where (and how often) to use key words and phrases in your copy to get the best search engine ranking

And hardly any of them provide you with realtime examples and actionable advice.

Convert Visitors to Buyers Using the Interactive Sales Letter

You have probably heard it said (perhaps even on this website) that of all the elements that make up your website, strong website copywriting is the ONLY one that’s going to generate sales.

Appealing design, attractive images, and clear navigation are all extremely important, but it’s the copywriting that makes the difference between a successful website and one that simply takes up space on the internet.

But what happens if you have some pretty decent sales copy but nothing is happening? You’re getting visitors, but no sales.

Let me introduce you to the Interactive Sales Letter.

It’s a concept that’s based on a script that “LEARNS” what each and every unique visitor to your website is most interested in and then DYNAMICALLY changes the sales letter text to feature that benefit/product!

Scott Stevenson is the brains behind the Interactive Sales Letter concept. Here is an excerpt from his book that explains it in more detail:

DIFFERENT WANTS & NEEDS
The internet has evolved into the ultimate search tool for
anything and everything that you could want. That said,
today’s Internet users are not like they were a few years
ago, surfing around in a “let’s see what I come across”
mode. They are disciplined and focused. They know what
they want and they utilize this medium to target their own
needs, quickly and efficiently. What they don’t want is to
be delayed or confused by a bunch of hoopla that doesn’t
pertain to them.

Instead of trying to write a 10 ft. long blanket order for
the masses, which includes the kitchen sink, why not write
for the user who is right now reading your page? For that
one specific moment, you have a potential customer at your
site, reading your copy, debating if they should read on or
move on. You will only have one chance at this person, so
make it count.

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!
The average user is inundated with garbage all day long,
from commercials, billboards, print ads, banners, and of
course, spam. Their eyes are glazed and their brains are
numb from the monotony of it all. Your job as a
marketer/copywriter is to wake them up and prove that you
have something they want. The only way to do this is to
focus on their needs…

Clear, direct copy that talks to their specific needs –
not the previous or next reader’s – but this particular
reader’s specific needs.

I’m sure many of you have heard of Dan Kennedy. If you
haven’t, he is one of the best sales letter writers out
there. His book, The Ultimate Sales Letter, is an
established cornerstone of the industry. You may even have
a copy of it floating around your home office…
However…it’s hard to imagine that after only 2 years since
the Second Edition was published, much of the online
relevance of this book is outdated. Gotta love that
technology!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book to learn how to write
sales letters. However, I am not going to teach you how to
write sales letters; I’m going to teach you how to make them
9x more effective in targeting your visitors!

Technology has advanced enough to provide a technique that
will revolutionize the way copy is written online from this
day forward.

Was that a bold statement?

Maybe. But if you get it, than you’ll immediately start the
coffee pot and begin restructuring all of your content, only
pausing to master the possibilities.

I want you to read this excerpt from The Ultimate Sales Letter
by Dan Kennedy (page 15) :

<—Begin Excerpt—>
There is a classic sales legend about the hotshot salesman
pitching a new home heating system to a little old lady. He
told her everything there was to know about BTUs, construction,
warranties, service, and so on. When he finally shut up, she
said, “I have just one question — will this thing keep a
little old lady warm?”

Each time I’ve gone shopping for a personal computer, I’ve
seen the same selling error repeated over and over again in
the computer stores I’ve visited. These salespeople tell me
everything about what’s important to them, but they never slow
down long enough to find out what’s important to me.

The mistake is even easier to make in crafting a sales letter,
because there’s no possibility of corrective feedback from the
customer during the presentation. That’s why you must determine
accurately, in advance, what their priorities are. And you must
address their priorities, not yours.
<—End Excerpt—>

Everything he stated is 100% true…
in the offline world!

However, as a programmer in the online world, I said, “Wait a
minute… No possibility of corrective feedback?

This is the Internet for crying out loud. It’s an interactive
communication tool. Heck, I get corrective feedback even when
I don’t ask for it. Click, click, click.”

So the next day, I was hard at work researching this
phenomenon. How could such an obvious idea go untouched? Sure,
the book was a few years old, so I figured somewhere online
somebody is getting real-time corrective feedback. But I was
unable to come up ANYTHING!

What I DID find, was a whole lot of tools and people promoting
the same tactics and strategies used in that far off detached
world some call “Offline”.

TODAY’S SALES TOOLS
I found tons of polls and surveys that one can give, but what
good is that? Yes, it’s great to analyze your well-thought
questionnaire for “next time”, but what if that visitor doesn’t
give you a next time. And now he’s moved on because he just
wasted a valuable 2 minutes of his time filling out 10-20
questions that don’t really give him an immediate result that
is pertinent to him, just to you.

All of the articles, books and ebooks I come across about sales
letters or copywriting, are mostly regurgitating the same info
as the last. I understand, there are proven techniques out
there, there are copywriters who are experts in their field,
and I applaud them. The known experts are the ones who have
earned it, with groundbreaking writing styles and forward
thinking solutions that build upon those proven methods rather
than just repeating them. They simply find new ways to reach
the all important goal…the sale!

THE SALES GOAL
The goal of any sales person is to make the sale. But what is
a sale to the customer? A sale buys the customer a solution to
the customer’s specific problem.

This can be done more easily with an idea of what that specific
problem is, obviously. That is why salesmen harness an
amazing-advanced-top-secret-technique to dig out that hidden
problem…

They ask!

When you walk into a pet store you’re obviously looking for a
pet and not diapers (at least for most of us). So you know
that the chances are good that the pet store has something that
you want…
But does the salesperson say, “Here is our selection of pets,
have fun.”

No, they ask a very simple question, “What type of pet are you
looking for?”

I can’t stress enough how vital that question is!

With your simple off-the-cuff response, “A dog for my son”,
that sales person has immediately zeroed in and targeted you.
You are now a proud member of the Dog category.

Think about it!

Now the salesperson doesn’t have to waste his breath with trying
to sell you a cat, bird, hamster, fish, lizard, or anything else…
other than a dog.

I don’t even have to tell you what would be the next thing out
of his mouth, you already know…

“What kind of dog are you looking for?”

Narrowing down the field to “give the customer what they want”
and not waste time in the process is the second vital question.
There is no point in bringing out Rex, the German Shepard, if
the customer is looking for a small “yo quierro taco bell”
Chiwawa.

The same exact scenario transaction takes place for every
industry in every aspect.

Home Depot employees aren’t going to bother showing you toilet
plungers, if you need a light switch.

Am I right?

Even if you only have one product, I’m sure there are certain
features or specific benefits that could be promoted
specifically to one customer rather than another.

CORRECTIVE FEEDBACK AT LAST
Asking 2 questions will target a customer better than any
professional sales letter could ever hope to. This is called
“Corrective Feedback”. You get to know what’s important to
each and every customer. The grand quest of unlimited
knowledge can be answered by asking the right questions.

Are the bells going off yet?

The main goal in that verbal-transaction was to narrow down the
customer’s need — and to provide a solution for that need. By
asking the first general question, we are able to at least
categorize our customers. By categorizing them, we can
concentrate on their mindset and what our next question would
be to hone in on that.

Two questions is vital to categorize and to further target a
potential customer or promote a special feature. You can now
understand that if the next customer says “Cat”, how
dramatically that would effect what your next question would
be. Would you be gearing up Rex? “Sorry again ol’buddy.”

Remember this…

The goal of any sales letter, pitch, call, etc. is to solve
a problem, to make the customer’s life easier or save them
time. Find out what the potential customer is looking for and
offer a solution that satisfies that. Period.

Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?

Think about it! With the Interactive Sales Letter, you will be able to solve each visitor’s immediate problem, showcase a specific benefit to the visitor, and overcome any objections. All on Autopilot!

The Interactive Sales Letter is the first and only tool (that I know of) to bring you the “Corrective Feedback” needed to convert your visitors into buyers! It targets them with 9 times greater accuracy! Today’s online sales letters can’t even come close to a number like that!