How To Write Copywriting Headlines
In this article I want to share with you the four elements of a headline.
First I want to focus on how to get the attention of your target audience.
Element 1 – Getting Attention
Now there are three ways in you can get attention in your headlines.
Promise useful information
Here what you are going to do is to offer information that the reader might
want. For example, if we consider a brand of baked beans, there advertising
headline could read ‘How to bake beans.’ So if you are interested in wanting to
know how to bake beans, you would be attracted to this headline making you a
more likely customer for this product.
#2) Target the readers self interest
For this, an example could be ‘Why roast through another summer?’ Obviously a
person reading this will have their attention grabbed because the days are hot,
they do not want to sweat and they just want a nice cool air conditioner in
#3) Give news
An example of this could be from an exercise video which is using the headline
‘New video can give you a leaner body starting now.’ What gives you the
news here is the word new – something new has just been released. Other words
that can be used to highlight news are: now, discover, introducing, announcing,
it’s here, at last and just arrived.
Element 2 – Target Your Audience
One thing that you should really do with your headline is to make
sure that you get inquiries from people who have a real interest with your
product or service. A good way to ensure this is if you are sending out free
information also send a free response paid envelope that a potential customer
can send back to you. Now because you are paying the postage it is essential
that you are only getting inquiries from people who are your ideal audience.
One example of such a headline was used by The Institute of Children’s
Literature which read, ‘We’re looking for people to write children’s books.’
What is great about this headline is that the only people who will respond to
that are people with a genuine interest in writing books specifically for
children. The headline is immediately targeting the ideal audience and there
will be no interest from people who, for instance, write essays.
Another headline example from a life insurance company is, ‘To men and women
over 65 who need affordable life insurance coverage.’ This eliminates
everyone under the age of 65 years and those not interested in buying life
Element 3 – Provide A Complete Message
us look at the headline ‘You can make big money in real estate now.’ What
is special about this headline is that it is making a promise. Another example
of a headline is ‘Discovered soon enough, tooth decay is repairable by Colgate.’
Now what is so special about this?
Well you need to know that only 20% of people will actually read your whole
ad. So this means 80% of your target audience will see your headline and that is
where they will stop. So if you deliver a compete message in the headline then
you are essentially giving away your whole article.
Now those who keep reading will clearly discover more information and more
benefits. But in the case of 80% of your audience, if you want to reach them you
need to give the complete message in the headline. There is also a
recommendation from the advertising legend, Ogilvy, to include the selling
promise and the brand name. And the reason for this is that your audience may
not read beyond the headline.
So for the Colgate headline above – here we have the whole promise and the
brand name. From seeing such a headline you will know which brand to buy the
next time you go shopping. The headline relating to real estate did not include
a brand name but it did include a nice promise, i.e. you can make big money in
real estate now.
Element 4 – Getting Your Reader Hooked Into The Body Copy
element three above, I mentioned that only about 20% of people will actually
read the ad. So I discussed the importance of giving away all the information in
the headline. However for some products you do want people to read about the
features and benefits. If you are selling perfume for instance then you are not
really going to need to list all the features and benefits. You could probably
do everything with a headline and a sub-headline.
But when it comes to things like life insurance or anything else that people
will put some thought into before they buy, you really do want to be able to
list the features and benefits. It is essential that people read those so that
you have the ability to persuade them.
So how can you do that?
Well you simply have to arouse curiosity and there are a few ways that you can
do that. You can use humor in your headlines or you can include intrigue or
mystery so as to make people wonder what is coming next. You can promise a
reward and you can also give news or useful information. You will recall from
element three, that news and useful information were discussed. Not only does
this grab attention it also helps to get your audience hooked onto what you have
written, so they can be considered to be very important.
An example of mystery and intrigue, for a skin care cream, the headline might
read ‘The $5 alternative to costly plastic surgery.’ This is such a unique
headline because it really does intrigue people. What could this alternative
Now just imagine if it did say skin care cream in the headline. It could
read, ‘$5 skin care cream is an alternative to costly plastic surgery.’
Here you would reveal everything at once and there is certainly no mystery.
People will look at it and just see it as another ad for a skin cream and simply
flip the page. So in the original headline you really are arousing those levels
of curiosity and people will be saying ‘wow just $5 instead of thousands of
dollars for plastic surgery.....what is it?!’
So there you have four elements to making a headline so powerful that your
target audience cannot afford to turn away. Use them in the ways that I have
described and hopefully you will see an increase in the number of inquiries that
your business will receive.
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