13 ways to draw people in
Which of these headlines is most likely to spur you to sign up for a webinar?
New webinar helps managers improve productivity
Get all your work done in half the time, be the office hero, and go home early
Benefit heads like the second are so effective that my guideline is: If a benefit headline is an option, use it.
Whether you’re writing a piece of content, sales letter or social media post you’ll make your article stand out with a great headline. Benefit headlines can increase conversion rates and cause people to read the article. To write a good headline, seduce your readers by showing how your product, service or idea will make their life better.
Here are 13 tips for writing an effective headline for your target audience:
1. Focus on the benefits.
I once worked with a client on an article about customer service. The head:
Be A Customer Champion. Be Elite
250 words in, the article mentioned that winners would get an all-expenses-paid trip to Vegas.
Giving away a trip to Vegas, a drone or a Prius? Mention that in your headline:
Win a trip for two to Las Vegas
ABC customer service program to honor XYZ
2. Call out to targeted readers.
“If you want mothers to read … display ‘Mothers’ in your headline,” advised advertising guru David Ogilvy.
Call out to readers, especially if you’re writing to a subset of your audience. Write headlines that start with IT managers, maybe, or Nurses.
Case managers: There’s an app for that!
Injured workers can now get claims updates on their phones
3. Pile on the benefits.
Recreational Products Insurance published a brochure for agents with this head and deck:
Rev Up Your Sales
Launch more business with more products
Subheads continued to ladle on the benefits:
Crank up volume
Drive in profits
Collect a bonus
Readers love benefits, because they focus on readers’ favorite topic: themselves. So don’t be afraid to keep layering on the benefits.
4. Make them longer.
Layering on all of those benefits takes space. Which means you may need more words for benefit heads.
Benefit headlines of 10 words or longer sell more products than short headlines, wrote Ogilvy, citing research from the New York University School of Retailing.
The best head Ogilvy ever wrote, he said, was 17 words long:
At Sixty Miles an Hour, the Loudest Noise in the New Rolls-Royce Comes From the Electric Clock
5. Use specific information.
Quantify and specify benefits. They’ll be more interesting and believable. Plus, you’ll differentiate your message from all of the others coming out of your own organization and your competitors.
59 seconds is more specific than in seconds,” counsels marketing expert Dan Kennedy.
Numerals in headlines sell, because they quantity the value of the information. Oddly, odd numbers are more effective than even numbers, according to Folio:. So 7 steps may be better than 10 tricks.
Take a tip from Ann Bloch, principle of Ann Bloch Communications, and try something like:
Do three things you hate … and watch your income double
Or steal a trick from the tabloids with something like:
Lose 8 pounds a week without drugs or a diet
6. Use the imperative voice.
Panfilo Garcia of Austin American-Statesman earned an award in the American Copy Editors Society’s headline contest for a portfolio including this head:
Weren’t born to run? Give us 8 weeks
7. Use words that sell.
“The two most powerful words you can use in a headline are ‘free’ and ‘new,’” Ogilvy wrote. “You can seldom use ‘Free,’ but you can almost always use ‘New’ — if you try hard enough.”
8. Offer a bargain.
Try Save $100.
“It’s free? Give me two. What is it?” joked the late sales coach Bill Brooks.
9. Add a sense of urgency.
Use words and phrases like “now” or “until Feb. 13.”
10. Develop vignettes that illustrate the benefit.
What causes salespeople to plateau, crash and burn and have very hungry families?
Keynote speaker Tom Antion suggests:
Speaking puts me in a higher tax bracket
Maybe it can do the same for you
11. Model the masters.
Adapt heads from Cosmopolitan. Or pick up headline formulas from the past, like:
They laughed when I sat down at the piano …
The people reading this will end up with your money
The five most costly mistakes in business: How many of them are you making?
A new breed of speaker is popping up everywhere
When the government freezes your bank account, what then?
Can you pass this money test?
Some good news about the coming tough times
If you’d rather put money in your pocket than watch TV …
>Would you like to take in $140 after supper?
Chicago man reveals a shortcut to authorship
Want help? This headline generator will get you started.
12. Deliver on your promise.
“Use headlines to sell the actual stories they represent — not the stories you wish you’d written,” writes a Corporate Writer & Editor editor.
Ignore this advice too often, and you’ll train your readers not to trust your headlines.
13. Don’t drop the deck.
Finally, don’t drop the deck, that one sentence summary under the headline. Benefit headlines don’t summarize the key story elements, so you’ll need to do that in the deck.
So make it: