7 Essential Ingredients of a Winning Headline
Why is the headline talked about so often by content marketers? Why are they considered so vital that they can make or break marketing campaigns? And, most importantly, how can your business benefit from creating great headlines?
One of the greatest copywriting legends of all time, John Caples believed: “If the headline is poor, the copy will not be read. And copy that is not read does not sell goods.”
Do you want to know how this seemingly simple statement plays out in the real world? Consider this:
80% of readers never make it past the headline.
According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 proceed to read the rest.
That’s the secret power of headlines and how it fulfills the main purpose of copywriting, which is to lead people on to read more till they are convinced to take action.
No wonder, headlines are the single most important factor when creating great content. It’s the first thing that’s seen by readers and it sets the tone for whether your content will be treasured or trashed by them.
Poor headlines can sink your digital marketing ship
That’s right. Headlines have a significant impact on your marketing efforts. So much so that they can sink your campaigns, kill your bottom line, and stunt your business’ growth.
No matter which digital marketing avenue you choose — be it blogs, social media marketing, email marketing or pay-per-click (PPC) marketing — the headline is the one thing that’s common to every one of these media. It is the headline that makes people decide whether or not to click open an article, an advertisement or an email.
One look at your headline will give your prospective customers their first impressions about your brand. And, it must be good, if not great because in today’s crowded and competitive business landscape, you don’t get a second chance to make that first impression. You either nail it or miss the opportunity.
So, it’s fairly obvious that if your headlines don’t encourage the readers to click, your campaigns will stop dead in their tracks. And by default, all the time, money and effort you put into creating these campaigns will go down the drain, causing your content marketing strategy to fail as a whole.
That’s why poor headlines can mean a significant loss of potential traffic and revenue, affecting the sales and growth prospects of your business.
So, how do you create headlines that your audience can’t help but click? In this article, we’ll share with you 8 ingredients for creating great headlines that attract and compel readers to take action.
Here’s how to create a winning recipe for headlines using these ingredients
1. State the top benefits
This one is a no brainer. It’s basically what a headline is supposed to do: Reel people in. A great headline does that by conveying the biggest benefit your prospects receive from your product/service.
When the headline sums up the promise your product/service makes and it is the solution that your potential customers are looking for, it will instantly entice them to click and read more.
However, be careful not to crowd the headline with too many benefits because it may end up confusing the reader. So make sure to choose the most highly desired and unique benefit of your product and let that shine in your headline.
2. Drop the offer
Being direct with your headline can get your audience to respond faster. Ideally, your headline should be a few highly persuasive words strung together to summarize what you’re offering to your prospects.
With an attention span of less than that of a goldfish, people are likely to move over to the next shiny object that grabs their eyeball at a blazing speed. Meaning there’s no room for guesses. So, don’t try to make it sound clever. Rather focus on making your offer known — loud and clear, right at the outset.
That’s why it’s a good practice to first jot down your offer. Think about what exactly are you offering and how is it different or unique from the other offers on the market. Then, spend some time crafting a headline that spells out your offer and tells your audience what’s in it for them.
3. Sprinkle some power words
Research has shown that headlines that manage to evoke strong emotions in readers — whether positive or negative — are often the best at getting some action out of them. These headlines almost always have what are called “power words” in them.
Power words serve to motivate people to take a specific action on your website, blog, landing page or social media pages. Whether it’s about getting people to subscribe to your blog, click on that “buy” button, or download your eBook, having at least one power word in your headline can make a world of difference.
So, what do these power words look like? Not any different from regular words. In fact, chances are you’ve come across them plenty of times while browsing a page, skimming through a newspaper or magazine, driving past a billboard on your way or walking down the supermarket aisle. “Free”, “Fast”, “Last Minute”, “Now”, “Pay Zero” are some incredibly common but equally persuasive power words. But those aren’t the only ones. Here’s a treasure trove of 700+ power words that will help you write amazing headlines that convince and convert your prospects.
4. Slide in a timeframe
The most head-turning headlines are often the ones that make bold promises. And, some of them explicitly point out the time duration within which the reader is likely to get results.
Think about ads like “Lose 2 Inches of Belly Fat in 7 Days”. Such headlines have a certain amount of shock value that makes them memorable for the audience. Granted, not all businesses will benefit from this, neither is it an easy trick to pull. Unless you’re 200% sure about your claims, this might be veering too close to being labeled as a scam. So tread carefully.
You can certainly use numbers in your headline in other ways. Numbers are favored by the buyer’s brain because they promise something specific. Plus, Google loves numbers, so there’s that advantage as well.
However, here’s something to keep in mind while including numbers in your headlines: People respond better to odd numbers and crooked numbers — numbers that aren’t rounded such as 5, 7, 99.5, etc. — are more believable than round numbers.
Of course, this tip won’t apply to every business, but if it’s something your business can benefit from, make sure to capitalize on it.
5. Stress on specificity
As a reader, there are few things as frustrating as being greeted by a confusing headline. It might be the wittiest of all headlines and you may have spent hours creating it, but if it doesn’t communicate anything concrete, it will do nothing for you — no action, no clicks, and certainly so sales.
And here’s why. Your audience is bombarded by a zillion pieces of content clamoring for their attention on a daily basis. There’s only so much time and brainpower someone can invest on reading them. The result? Piles of unopened emails, ads that don’t get clicked on, blogs that no one wants to read, and so on. If you don’t want your content to end up getting ignored, you have to make your headlines more specific. The more clarity there is, the better chances it has of resonating with your audience.
6. Clear away objections
What stops people from buying a certain product? If your product is designed to remove that challenge from the equation, let your headline talk about it.
For example, Photoshop is the go-to photo editing software for many but has a fair bit of a learning curve. This can be perceived as a challenge by those who do not have the knowledge of Photoshop but would like to give a pro-level finish to their photos.
Now, let’s say you’re selling a tool that mimics Photoshop’s editing but doesn’t involve the learning curve. Finding ways to include this bit of information in your copy will garner more attention.
“The only content marketing strategy you will need to Catapult your Digital Marketing ROI”
7. Establish proof
Showing proof through your headline is an excellent way to attract your audience and get them hooked on to read your content. And, this works particularly well for case studies.
People love to read and get influenced by other’s experiences and proof-based headlines often tug on the sentiment of “you can too”. This is the reason why headlines such as “How We Skyrocketed Our Traffic by 452% With These 2 Steps” perform exponentially better than a generic “Tips to Skyrocket Your Traffic”.
So there you have it — 8 ingredients that can boost the potentials of your headlines in leaps and bounds. While it might not be practically possible to include all of these ingredients consistently all the time. But your aim should be to try and make sure your headline ticks off as many boxes as possible.
At Digitechniks, we have been successfully utilizing these best practices to convert our contacts to loyal fans. So if you wish to master more tips and tricks for copywriting that converts click to sales, attend our free webinar.
Learn from copywriting experts the ropes to leverage the power of words to generate more clicks, sales, and profits for your business.