Copy-writing experts say that 5 times as many people read your headlines compared to anything else on your page.
In many situations in the online realm, your headline is THE most important thing you have which you can use to convince somebody to become your customer, client or reader.
The competition for attention on the internet is fierce and becoming tougher as time goes on with countless new sites coming online daily, therefore good headline writing skills are becoming more important than ever.
To put the importance of headlines and good headline-writing skills into perspective, just look at the common things you see people using every day on the web.
For example, when you tweet about your latest post or special offer you are in effect tweeting a headline.
Thus, if the people reading your tweet are not intrigued enough to stop and read your message and then click through to your main website then you need to seriously re-consider your headline writing skills and techniques.
It doesn’t matter how great you think your content inside your pages is, if your headline isn’t doing its job in convincing people to read on or click-through then all of that hard work you put into writing the great content or producing that amazing product is wasted.
Therefore it is imperative that you learn how to write good headlines if you want to succeed on the internet.
You could be excused if you have the impression that smart and eloquent people are the only ones who would be good enough to come up with amazing headlines, but in reality almost anybody (including you) can learn the ingredients and techniques necessary to write an effective headline which will be relevant for your website.
Below are some points which you might want to consider next time you are writing your headline.
1. You can use your headline to demonstrate that you understand the reader’s problems
Demonstrating understanding and empathy regarding somebody’s situation or problem is another role which your headline can play.
When people are dealing with somebody who understands their problems it usually becomes easier for them to trust somebody enough that they at least give them a chance to say their piece.
In other words, it is more likely that people will give you the opportunity to state your message by continuing to read past your headline.
2. You can be brutally honest about outcomes and worst case scenarios in a headline
This is a sort of mirror opposite of the point earlier where we talked about encouraging people’s dreams and aspirations.
You can also use your headline to highlight a negative scenario instead of a positive one because most people fall roughly into two categories – optimists and pessimists.
In order to get certain people’s attention, sometimes you need to shock them into reading your page by highlighting worst case scenarios or undesirable outcomes if a problem or situation is not addressed.
An excellent point in case is something like the following headline used in an anti-smoking campaign:
“Every breath you take will eventually destroy your future”
3. Confirm people’s suspicions about something in your headline
People love reading something which reinforces to them that they are right.
This couldn’t be more true for situations where people are suspicious or wary about something.
In psychological terms, when a headline confirms a suspicion somebody might have about something, they will seek to have their thoughts reinforced by continuing to read past your headline.
To see what I mean, next time you are reading some news or other articles, look for headlines which might start with words such as:
“What <xyz> are not telling you about <insert topic here>“
The above style of headline is a classic way in which online copywriters and businesses will reel you into reading further by sparking your own suspicions about a topic or thing.
4. A good headline will encourage people’s dreams and aspirations
Most humans have desires, dreams and aspirations. Actually it can be argued for better or for worse that the modern consumer culture is a testament to these human traits.
People will buy that new shiny toy because they believe their dreams will be fulfilled in some way or they might seek to find ways to learn how they can aspire to be better than they are by buying a self-help book.
Thus if you have something to offer to people which will help them get closer to their goals or dreams, try weaving this into your headline.
Here’s an example from a popular men’s health magazine:
“3 ways to last longer in bed”
5. Try writing your headline first next time you are writing a post or landing page
By spending some time thinking about and writing your headline first, you can be better prepared to craft more meaningful and relevant sales copy in the main body of your page.
After all, the headline is a prelude to what your readers expect to get or read when they progress past it.
Thus by writing your headline first, you can often get a clearer understanding of the content you will need to write to fulfil the expectations or promises you made in your headline.
6. Observe how the experts write and use headlines
If you don’t make the time and effort to watch and observe how the masters do it you don’t stand a chance of coming up amazing headlines of your own.
Thus as a diligent student and hence competent headline writer, you will firstly need to understand why a great headline works before you can intelligently adapt the same technique for your own needs.
Next time you are reading something on the internet or newspaper or magazine, try becoming more aware of the headlines of the material you are reading.
See if you can identify patterns and the use of certain types of words and sentence structures which you can mimic in your own headlines.