How important is the headline?
The headline is everything. Well, nearly everything.
It’s said that the headline amounts to around 50-75% of the entire piece. So whether you’ve thought about it or not, you already know the headline is the most important part of any communication. It’s why you’re here reading this sentence.
In fact, most readers read little else when asking themselves, “does this interest me?”, so the success of a blog, a social post, or an entire ad campaign can rest on the success of a headline. But how do you write a good headline?
First, let’s analyse what ingredients make some headlines work better.
What makes a good headline?
As advertising legend John Caples taught, there are four qualities that good headlines possess:
The most powerful tool a writer can use. People are predictable, in the sense that they are inherently selfish. “What’s in it for me?”, they ask, so don’t deny their self-interest, suggest you have something they want.
If you have something worth shouting about, a new product or a new service, then get that news into the headline in a big way. Don’t be shy, tell the world exactly what is great about it and how it will benefit them.
People are naturally curious but beware, using it in headlines is a double-edged sword. Curiosity combined with self-interest can be very compelling, but curiosity alone can be spotted a mile-off and easily ignored.
Speed & convenience
What’s better than a headline that tells me if I read on I’ll get something I want? One that tells me I can do whatever it is quicker, and more easily.
Although, as with anything, what you write has to be believable. You’ll know yourself, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is, so don’t fall into the trap of writing catchy headlines for the sake of it. It’s a massive turn-off and you’ll lose readers almost instantly.
So, how do you write a headline that you know is going to piqué interest and trigger them into action? Lucky for you, I’ve put together five super easy tips for writing headlines that attract more readers:
Tip 1: Begin your headline with the word “Introducing” or “Announcing”
This is a classic news headline technique that readers find impossible to ignore for fear of missing out. Here are some in practice:
- INTRODUCING FOUR NEW WAYS TO USE A [RELEVANT SPECIALISM]
- INTRODUCING A NEW WAY TO HELP BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN YOUR [PRODUCT] AND IMPROVING YOUR [PROCESS]
- AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT TO [RELEVANT SPECIALISM]
- [BRAND] ANNOUNCES NEW AND DIFFERENT [PRODUCT] TO IMPROVE YOUR [PROCESS]
Don’t write the headline first. Trying to nail the headline when you’re cold isn’t ideal, you’ll probably stew over it and get deflated. Warm up first by writing what you have to say. Not only will you feel you’ve achieved more but you might even find you’ve got the words to use somewhere in the piece. Like I did!
Tip 2: Begin your headline with the word “Now” or “New”
Another news headline that rarely fails to prick the ear but with an added sense of urgency, because it won’t be now or new for long.
Some in practice:
- NEW [PRODUCT] LAUNCH PROMISES [CLAIM] THAT COULD SEE END OF [CUSTOMER PAIN]
- NEW [PROCESS] CHANGES RULES FOR [RELEVANT SPECIALISM]
- NOW LIVE, [NUMBER] WAYS TO SOLVE [CUSTOMER PAIN]
- NOW THAT’S HOW YOU [RELEVANT SPECIALISM]! NEW [PRODUCT] SERIES LEADS TO [PROCESS] SUCCESS
Tip 3: Begin your headline with the words “How to” or “How”
Readers are interested in ways to make their own life a little easier, so the promise of education and learning how to do X and solve Y and be free of Z almost guarantees success.
A few examples are:
- HOW TO GET MORE [CUSTOMER DESIRE] BY USING [PRODUCT]
- HOW TO [LEARN SKILL] IN [NUMBER] EASY STEPS
- HOW DO I [CUSTOMER DESIRE] MORE AND [CUSTOMER PAIN] LESS
- HOW YOU CAN SOLVE [CUSTOMER PAIN] BY LEARNING [SKILL] IN [NUMBER] OF STEPS
Tip 4: Begin your headline with the word “Why” or “Which”
Leading statements are great at getting people to read on. Why? Because they’ll already have a rough idea of what the answer is, but they have to check just to make sure.
Some in action:
- WHY THESE SIMPLE [PROCESS] CHANGES CAN INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY BY [RESULT]
- WHY SOME PEOPLE IN [INDUSTRY] ALWAYS MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES IN [PRODUCTS]
- WHICH OF THESE [NUMBER] [PROCESS] TROUBLES WOULD YOU LIKE TO END?
- WHICH IS THE MOST EFFICIENT WAY TO ACHIEVE [RESULT]? THIS [PRODUCT] OR THIS [PRODUCT]
Tip 5: Begin your headline with the word “This” or “If”
And the final eyebrow twitcher is to be specific about the ‘thing’ you want to talk about. Immediately qualifying the correct readers’ attention to a particular product or service.
- THIS [RELEVANT SPECIALISM] COULD MAKE YOUR [PROCESS] THE ENVY OF THE MARKET
- THIS [BRAND] DOESN’T TRY TO STOP THESE [CUSTOMER PAINS], IT JUST DOES IT.
- IF THEY EVER MADE [RELEVANT SPECIALISM] AUTOMATED, YOU’D BE READY
- IF YOU THINK YOU CAN’T AFFORD [PRODUCT OR SERVICE], YOU’RE NOT LOOKING AT [PRODUCT] THE RIGHT WAY
At a glance
Understanding how to write a good headline starts with knowing that the headline is everything. You might have a great piece of content that’s super helpful and relevant, but if the headline is a damp squib – no one will ever get to it.
Always remember the four qualities that make up successful headlines:
- Speed & convenience
Start with those and you won’t go far wrong, but to help get you started try out the 5 easy headline tips that attract more readers:
- Tip 1: Begin your headline with the word “Introducing” or “Announcing”
- Tip 2: Begin your headline with the word “Now” or “New”
- Tip 3: Begin your headline with the words “How to” or “How”
- Tip 4: Begin your headline with the word “Why” or “Which”
- Tip 5: Begin your headline with the word “This” or “If”