Welcome back –
So in part 1 we touched on a few powerful ways you can improve the performance of your headlines. In this next short lesson we’re going to go over some common powerful headline formulas.
If you study a lot of winning sales copy you’ll probably recognize these formulas, and there’s a good reason they get used so often… Because they work!
Rather than having me go into a long introduction for this post (because if you read part 1 of this series then you’ve already been primed for what’s coming next), what do you say we just dive right in and get to the good stuff, OK?
1 – The Big Bold Benefit Headline puts your biggest, most compelling benefit right up front.
These headlines don’t beat around the bush, they get right to the point with a compelling benefit.
“Earn Up To $5,000 In 7 Days From The Comfort Of Your Home”
“Lose 17 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks Without Dieting Or Strenuous Exercise!”
“Clear Up Your Acne In Just 3 Days”
As you can see, this type of headline doesn’t try to swoon, persuade, or cajole you into anything. It simply presents a compelling offer. And if it’s something that interests you, then you’ll stop to see what it’s about.
2 – The News-Style Headline sounds like an editorial or a news story headline.
These headlines work great for advertorial style copy where the entire ad has the appearance of a news story.
To get the most impact from this style of headline it helps if you can tie it into some legitimate news that’s happening in the current news cycle. But if you can’t tie it into a news cycle it can still be made to look legit, for some powerful results.
A couple examples would be…
“All Natural Enzyme Holds Promise As Cancer Cure”
“New Dental Breakthrough – Robotic Assistant Makes Full Dentures In Under An Hour”
“School Teacher Develops New Method To Help Students Raise SAT Scores Up To 100 Points”
3 – The Anxiety Producing Headline is used to scare your reader into paying attention.
Give him a big ass problem that looms large, and also give the hope of solving it.
“The government is coming for your pension – Protect your money now with these legal loopholes”
“Your multi-vitamin might be slowly poisoning you – If your vitamins contains this ingredient STOP taking it right now!”
4 – The Guarantee Headline can be very effective when you’re in a competitive market.
Similar to the “Big Bold Promise” headline, this one adds an extra proof element for even greater impact.
“Learn To Play Any Musical Instrument In 7 Days or Your Money Back!”
5 – The Testimonial Headline adds a touch of immediate social proof to your message.
If you’ve done your research, and have a compelling case study, this can be a very powerful headline.
“I was broke and desperate. Then I invested my last $20 in this program and made $2300 in just 7 days”
” I Couldn’t Believe My Eyes When I Saw The Size Of My Paycheck!”
“I lost 12 pounds in the first week. It was so easy!”
There’s a few other proven headline formulas you can use, like
The story headline (which opens like the beginning of a story)
The If / then headline (if you have this problem, then we have this solution)
The call out your target headline (An open letter to people who…)
The social proof headline (These [group of people] achieved [this result] using [product])
The list headline (Top 10 reasons why… The 7 best ways to…)
And there’s a couple others we could use, but just the few basic formulas we’ve gone over here should cover just about any headline needs you have for any product or service you’re selling.
Another thing to remember about headlines is that they rarely ever sell the product by themselves.
The main purpose of our headline is to capture our readers attention, pull them away from whatever they’re preoccupied with, and pull them into our copy. Once we achieve that, our copy needs to pay off the reason why they decided to give us their attention in the first place.
In other words… Don’t make a big bold headline that promises a brand new solution, but then make your copy about the same old rehashed garbage that everyone else is selling.
If you do you’ll lose your credibility, and your audience, in the blink of an eye.
Before we wrap this lesson up I want to touch on one more concept. The concept of “benefit first” headlines.
Whenever possible write a “benefit-first” headline
This is a lesson I picked up from Flint Mcglaughlin over at Meclabs (except he called it a “point-first” headline)
Benefit-first basically means we want to start with the benefit first and put our offer second.
Going back to our weight-loss example from the last lesson, here’s an example of how this might look…
PRODUCT FIRST WOULD BE… “Our simple weight loss program will help you lose up to 17 pounds in just 2 weeks ”
Now there’s nothing technically wrong with this offer, except the first thing our readers looks at is about us and our product. Ideally, we always want to keep our reader first and foremost.
With a simple syntax tweak we can put our reader first…
BENEFIT FIRST WOULD BE… “ Lose up to 17 pounds in just 2 weeks , using our simple weight loss program”
The words are nearly identical in each example, but in the first headline our product is first and the benefit is second.
In this second one we put our readers needs first so our reader immediately knows what’s in it for them… And then they hear about our product.
Of course you’ll need to test this with your own offer. But this subtle difference has proven to increase response rates for me, more times than not.
A final note about creating your headlines…
When you start creating your headline, don’t censor yourself. Just start writing down as many good ideas as you can think of.
Most of the best copywriters will write 10, 20, 30 headlines or more for a single promotion.
The benefit of writing many headlines is multiplied because while only one can be the main headline, the runner ups can often be turned into great sub-heads or bullet points throughout the copy.
Also, if you have two or three winners, then you’ll be ready for split testing to see which gives you the best response.
Split testing simply means using one piece of copy (in this case, our headline) and putting it in front of a number of potential customers. Then, testing a different headline for the next group of people in our target market.
This way we can measure the results and see which one gets the best response. Eventually, one usually stands out as a clear winner.
Ideally I like to send at least 1000 sets of eyes to our offer before switching out any part of the copy for a split test. Less than that doesn’t really give us enough data to make solid conclusions. (of course, if we send 500 or more people to our offer and don’t get ANY response, then we may want to change things a bit sooner)
OK, so now we’ve come to the end of this 2 part lesson on “Essential ingredients for powerful headlines”.
I trust it was 15 minutes of your time that was well spent, and that it’s provided value that will help you create more powerful headlines for your own copy.
In future posts we’ll go into more detail about how to write powerful headlines. But for right now, I’d say we covered enough of the basics to help you create a powerful headline for just about anything you’re writing.
With that said…
Here’s to writing more compelling copy, more often.
All the best,
P.S. Here’s a headline writing info-graphic I found while looking through my vault the other day. I figured this would be a good place to present it to you. Feel free to look it over. And if you want to, you can copy it and save it for your own archives .
- Part 2 – The secret to writing persuasive sales copy - April 30, 2020
- The Secret To Writing Persuasive Sales Copy - April 19, 2020
- Here’s Why SEO Writing Can Destroy Your Content (and what you can do to make it better) - March 29, 2020