Headlines make for 90% of the advertising dollar, and why not! It is the first thing that your readers see and is the reason they go on to read the rest of your copy. Even a single word headline that can get your audience’s attention can impact the conversion rate dramatically. It is your first impression and you have to make it strong.
The primary purpose of the headline is to lead your audience to the first sentence. It is no wonder that headlines can make and break a campaign. If you want to write killer headlines that compels your readers to convert – make a note of these 4 rules of thumb.
#1 Your headline should be unique
We can’t stress enough about the flood of content on every platform – be it emails, social media or even advertisements. Your headline needs to stand out so it can grab your audience’s attention.
Audience’s today are used to being bombarded by ads – on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, everywhere. Think about how many times you have stopped to check out an ad. Most of the time, we scroll past them, without even giving it a second glance. If your headline is generic, your audience is probably going to scroll past you because they’ve seen it before with some other brand.
For example, how many times do you stop for an add that says ‘Buy now for only $24.95 per month. If you buy today, you’ll get a free wallet valued at $19.95’. Maybe once, but the second time you see something even close to this copy, you aren’t going to stop scrolling.
This copy by Swiss Life immediately gets your attention. You probably read that headline twice and now you’re intrigued and want to know more.
What makes this headline unique is that it is not boring and generic. It peaks the curiosity of the reader and compels them to move to the next line. It also adds personality to the brand and it grabs your attention.
To write unique headlines you have to be able to be willing to take the risk. You may not connect with everyone out there but for the right audience, you’ve hit the spot.
#2 Your headline must be ultra specific
Apart from being unique, your headline must be able to convey what you’re selling. It should provide customers enough information to know what you’re selling and if it interests them. A non-specific headline is vague and confusing and may not be able to convince the reader to move forward.
Be specific about your numbers and statistics. Instead of saying ‘hundreds and thousands’, putting a number makes your headline more credible and powerful.
Even without numbers and facts, this headline worked for L’Oreal Paris. The reason is because it has called out very specifically to its audience. Both men and women are interested to know why this ad is for men specifically, especially when it features lipsticks and mascara.
#3 Your headline should have a sense of urgency
When your headline conveys a sense of urgency, you are most likely hitting the sore spot of your reader. This compels them to read further, especially if your next line talks about how you can provide a solution to their problem. Overusing this rule though can lead to tasteless copywriting. Instead, use it when you have something incredible to offer to your audience.
This headline by Basecamp appeals to every business owner out there – especially someone who has multiple projects and tasks to handle every day.
Always remember, when you create a sense of urgency for your audience, make sure you deliver on the problem and help them with a solution. When you are unable to deliver a solution to your audience’s pain point, you lose their trust and they most likely won’t buy from you.
#4 Your headline must be useful
If your headline doesn’t solve a problem or serve a purpose, it may not convince your readers a reason to continue engaging with your copy. People want to know what they will get by reading your copy.
If you’re only talking about how great your products are – you’re most likely not going to turn many eyeballs. A lot of businesses also make the mistake of sounding too intelligent by using big words or saying something clever. The headline then fails to communicate the benefit of the product to the reader and they’re no longer interested in reading further.
This simple ad by Apple grabs their audience’s attention, especially if they love music. Remember that when the iPod was launched, you didn’t have WiFi available everywhere and Spotify was nowhere around. You had CD & cassette walkmans that would only play the 10-15 tracks they had saved on them. So if you were a music buff, your bag was probably filled with CDs and cassettes.
Apple understood this pain point and so their simple headline – ‘1000 songs in your pocket’ appealed to everyone who would love to listen to music on the go.
The headline alone can make or break the success of a copy. Paying attention to the small details and incorporating at least 2 of the 4 U’s in every headline you write, will ensure that your readers move to the next line in your copy.
The headline is just the beginning. There is a lot more that goes into writing a good copy, Read more about that here.
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