Copywriting Tips: A dozen pointers for writing attention-grabbing headlines

With a scant 1-3 seconds to catch a prospect’s attention, your goal is to do so long enough for your prospect to decide to continue reading all of your content. As advertising guru David Ogilvy said,”On the average, 5 times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.”

So how do you create a killer headline? One way is to focus on the single strongest benefit you can offer your prospects (aka the USP – unique selling proposition), but here are a dozen other pointers to consider:

1. Ask a question in the headline. “With 1 in 2 people getting osteoarthritis in their lifetime, can you afford to ignore your joints?”

2. Give news using words such as “introducing,” “announcing” or “new.” “Announcing 10 remarkable ways to stay in shape without exercising daily.”

3. Address your prospects’ concerns. I call it pushing their buttons so when they read, they think “yeah, I need/want this. I gotta have it.”

4. Promise something wonderful, but do not lie. You’ll lose more customers than you gain that way (bad news travels fast). “For deep-clean, oil-free skin, Noxzema has the solution.”

5. Be specific. This well-known Rolls Royce headline did the job: “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.”

6. Give the reader a command – tell him/her to do something. “Go ahead, throw away this free offer.”

7. Promise your prospects helpful/useful information. “How to avoid foreclosure,” or “4 tips for losing weight without feeling starved for your favorite foods.”

8. Promise to reveal a secret. “Discover the secret to writing thought-provoking, compelling copy,” or “Explore the secret to effective nutritional supplements.”

9. Give your prospects good news. “You’re never too old to be in great shape.”

10. Target a particular type of reader. “Do you aspire to write children’s books?

11. Tie in to current events. The most well-known example of this is the “Official car (camera, airline, beverage etc.) of the Olympics.”

12. Highlight your guarantee. “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days or your money back.”

So, are your prospects reading your headlines? What’s the best one you’ve used to catch their attention successfully? Let me know and when I’ve gathered enough “winners,” I’ll share them here.

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.

Comments

  1. Debra, these are some good tips!
    Sheila

  2. Great tips, Debra! Headlines are not my strong point – questions work well, and there’s always the tried and tested favourites – how to’s and ways to.
    I work with local businesses, the headlines that work really well include the guarantee, but many won’t run with that as they expect a queue of refunds. Those that do are surprised it doesn’t happen – of course the product/service needs to be spot on.
    Jan recently posted…Have Your Google Reviews Disappeared? You’re Not Alone!My Profile

    • Hi @Jan, happy to help you with headlines. I see you’re using tip #1 (ask a question) in the title of your current blog post. You’re right about guarantees. When your clients have a quality product/service that delivers on their promise, they’ll have happy customers (not a queue of requests for refunds). Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. ~Debra

  3. Great tips, I’m love reading about headlines.
    Lena recently posted…How to Wear Peplum Tops: Look Trendy & FeminineMy Profile

    • Glad you liked the tips @Lena. Hope you find them useful either when writing your blog, web content or other marketing materials. I can see you’re using #7 (promising helpful information) in your current “How To” blog title. Thanks. ~Debra

  4. Sorry, I meant I love reading about headlines 😉
    Lena recently posted…How to Wear Peplum Tops: Look Trendy & FeminineMy Profile

  5. I love this. So simple and true and practical. Thank you.

  6. Thank you! I sometimes struggle with headlines and can definitely use these reminders and tips!
    cassie recently posted…are you charging what you’re worth?My Profile

  7. These are excellent tips! I learned more than even from Copyblogger! Thanks for sharing your expertise.
    Bonnie Roill RD recently posted…Take a Stand against Weight Gain in MenopauseMy Profile

    • WOW @Bonnie, what a nice compliment. I consider it an honor that you hold my blog post in such high esteem with the likes of Copyblogger. Hope you see great results when you put these copywriting tips into action with your headlines. Thanks! ~Debra

  8. I’ll be bookmarking this post. I’ve just started blogging and want to start publishing a newsletter for my target market, so this was very helpful. Thanks for the great tips!!

  9. Copywriting seems to be another one of those skills it is tough to acquire, like SEO, no way to learn but to dig in and spend time with it.
    Mark Michael recently posted…Follow Your Bliss | Forks in the RoadMy Profile

    • Hi @Mark, it’s always good to learn new skills. You’ll find these tips helpful in guiding you along the way.
      However, it’s also good for us to know what skills we don’t excel at and outsource to a pro when we need help. For instance, I’m not a graphic designer so when I need help in that area I call on someone who specializes in graphic design. And, while I know how to turn my computer on & off, when I run into a technical glitch, I call on a PC pro.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. Have a stellar day. ~Debra

  10. Thanks! I always appreciate your interesting articles and tips on copywriting. I’m starting freelancing and love copywriting. Before I only created our websites like hapkidomex.com, compromisosocialbc.com and alfafactor.com with different topics. . . Have a very nice day.
    Sonja

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