As a marketer or entrepreneur who has to write marketing copy, you soon realize the most important fundamental in copywriting is getting attention. And one way of getting readers’ attention is to write attention-grabbing headlines that get your sales copy read.
You see, if you don’t get the attention of your target audience you fail. And nobody will read your sales copy. So how do you get readers’ attention?
Writing Attention-Grabbing Headlines That Gets Read
All sales copy must have a headline. The headline is the single most important part of any sales copy – whether print or online. The job of the headline is to gain the readers’ attention and spark their interest.
Aim for a benefit-oriented headline that grabs people’s attention. A headline that solves prospects’ problems. So when people look at it, they’re captivated. They’ll want to continue reading.
See, you want your headline to give people a reason – a benefit, a means for solving their problems – to continue reading.
In his classic book, Tested Advertising Methods, advertising legend John Caples writes,
If the headline of an advertisement is poor, the best copywriters in the world can’t write copy that will sell the goods. They haven’t a chance. Because, if the headline is poor, the copy will not be read.
Another copywriting legend, David Ogilvy, observed that only 20% of people who read the headline go on to read the copy.
And Copyblogger corroborated this, stating that 80% of your readers will read your headline, but only 20% will read the article.
As marketers and entrepreneurs vying to get your copy read, you need to spend time on your headlines. Writing attention-grabbing headlines takes practice.
Thankfully, there are formulas that can help. Like the ones I’m about to share with you – complete with examples.
When writing headlines for your sales copy, you’ll want to write as many as you can, then narrow them down based on the type of piece you’re writing and the type of headline you want to use.
The best way to improve any skill is to practice.
That’s what we’re going to do. In this article, we’ll pretend we’re selling an anti-aging cream product, which costs $59.99. We’ll call it Younger You.
Here are some attention-grabbing headline formulas from which we can choose for our anti-aging cream product. And no matter your product or service, these are universal formulas. Just plug in your product or service.
Let’s get started.
One of the most famous attention-grabbing headlines is the how-to headline. How To headlines tell people how to do something. It’s a classic form of headline writing, and almost always works. The trick is to be specific.
- How to Get Rid Of Wrinkles in 3 Months or Less—Guaranteed
- How to Look 10 Years Younger—in Just 12 Weeks
- How to Heal Dry Sensitive Skin … Use Younger You with its Secret Formula
- How to Relieve Sensitive Skin Associated with Rosacea
- How to Restore Your Natural Skin Tone—This 1 Easy Way
- How I Look 10 Years Younger In 3 Months
Questions are a great way to get people’s attention. But make sure you ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions force people to pause and wonder. Closed-ended questions, where the reader with a yes or no, have the opposite effect: they answer the question and move on.
The question you ask in the headline should be relevant to the target audience. You want them to read the copy and understand the benefit the question implies.
Who Else Wants to Look 10 Years Younger In Just 3 Months?
- Is Your Complexion interfering With Your Social Life?
- Are You Satisfied With the Way You Look
- If You Were Given $60, Isn’t This the Kind of Anti-Aging Cream You Would Buy?
- Which 7 Skin Problems Do You want to Get Rid of?
- Why Some Women Almost Always Look 10 Years Younger?
When writing headlines that follow the Problem/Solution headline structure, you start with the problem … the pain or anxiety relevant to your audience, followed by the solution.
- No More Wrinkled Skin! Here’s How to Get Beautiful Complexion in 3 Months
- No More Embarrassing Skin Trouble! An Amazing New Anti-Aging Cream By A Renown Dermatologist
- I Used to Have Skin Troubles—Now I Look 10 Years Younger With This Natural Remedy
- Saggy Skin! Here’s A Simple Way to Have Your Skin Looking the Way it Did 10 Years Ago
- Do You Look Older Than You Really Are? Restore Your Natural Skin Tone With This Little Known Natural Remedy
- Abnormal Skin Condition! Here’s A Proven Way to Get Beautiful Clear Skin
Everyone wants to hear a secret especially if the secret leads to an opportunity for you. To write the Secret headline, start with the secret then the benefit your product or service delivers.
- The Secret to Having Skin That Looks Smooth and Radiant in 2 Months
- The Secret of Getting Your Skin to Look the Way it Did in Your 20s
- The Secret of Eliminating Saggy Skin in 3 Months
- Secret of Getting Rid of Wrinkles and Fine Lines in Less Than 3 Months
- Secret of How I Got Rid of Rough Spots and Fine Lines in Just 2 Months
Journalism Style Headline – News Style:
The media employ professional headline writers whose job is to craft compelling headlines. That’s their job, writing headlines. To illustrate: Here in New York, a high school student got accepted in all 8 Ivy League schools. Here’s the New York Post: Meet the Student accepted into all eight Ivy League schools.
And here’s CNN: Teen accepted by all 8 Ivy League school chooses Yale.
What do these two headlines have in common? They’re fact-based. They present new information because that’s what news is: New Things.
So use words like announcing, discover, improve, new, and now, to signify a new or improved product or service.
- Discovered — Amazing Way to look 10 Year Younger
- Beautiful Younger Looking Skin Is Finally Here
- The Anti-Aging Cream Movie Stars Use is Now Available to You
- Now Comes the New Anti-Aging Cream
- Announcing a New Treatment in Solving Skin Condition
- New Method of Treating Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Fear-based headlines let you get attention by tapping into people’s fear. Write headlines that point out target audience current or future problems, and your content will get the attention it deserves.
- Does Your Skin Make You Look Older Than You Really Are?
- Don’t Buy Another Anti-Aging Cream Until You Read This
- Some Women Would Rather Stay Home Than Show Their Face in Public
- 40% of American Women Have abnormal Skin Condition
- How Bad Are Wrinkles and Fine Lines Hurting Your Social Life
- Skin Conditions that Keep Women Lonely
The Damaging Admission headline dramatizes a person in an unfavorable situation. A positive one or the idea that the situation’s been corrected follows this negative situation: After I lost my job and was evicted, I slept on my friend’s sofa for 6 months, then I discovered Bob’s Million Dollar’s Profit-System and made a fortune.
- 50 Year-Old Woman Looks 40
- My Family Laughed When I Bought This Anti-Aging Cream
- Saggy Skin Used to Embarrassed me
- Because of My Skin Condition, Guys Didn’t Ask Me Out—Until Now
- I Look 10 Years Younger Without Going to The Doctor
- My Skin Troubles Kept Me From Getting Hired
Use Now to create a sense of urgency. Now is versatile in its use. Writing headlines with the word Now is a great way of grabbing your readers’ attention. It can begin the headline; it can be placed in the middle, or at the end. Use Now when you want to create urgency, and put it where it sounds natural.
- You Can Look Like A Movie Star Now
- Get Younger You Anti-Aging Cream Now for Just $59.99 While Supplies Last
- Get Younger You Anti-Aging Cream and End Your Skin Troubles Now
- Now You Can Use the Same Anti-Aging Cream Celebrities Use
- Eliminate Dry Sensitive Skin Now
- Now … the Chance to Have the Look You’ve Always Wanted
Tell a Story:
A good story creates an emotional motivation in people to cause them to want to do something. Condense a story into well-crafted attention-grabbing headlines and you’ll engage the reader.
- Christine Got Rid of Fine Lines and Wrinkles in Just 2 Months Using Younger You Anti-Aging Cream
- How I Got Smooth Radiant Skin—Using Younger You Anti-Aging Cream
- My Anti-Aging Cream Helps Restore My Social Life
- This Unscented Anti-Aging Cream Helps Me Restore my Social Life
- How This 40-Year-old Mother looks as Young as Her 20-Year-old Daughter
- This Anti-Aging Cream Gets Rid of Dry Sensitive Skin and Wrinkles.
I just gave you 53 attention-grabbing headlines, all benefit-oriented, you can use to sell your product. But how do you choose which one to use?
Your experience with writing headlines will help you decide.
Remember, the purpose of the headline is to gain the attention of your target audience. One way to whittle down the list is to imagine you’re in a crowded room and need to get the attention of someone – a prospect. How would you do it?
You’d ignore everybody else and focus on just one person.
To get her attention, you’d probably shout at her, wave a sign, or approach her. But most importantly she must identify with your headline. That’s what you’re aiming to do when you’re writing headlines, singling out your prospect and focusing on her.
Nice to be over at your blog :)
A wonderful topic of discussion! Yes, writing catchy headlines is the key to gain readers, and thus, traffic to your blog posts. Of course, those lead to sales eventually.
You mentioned some wonderful examples and these do work well, especially the How-To’s and questions based titles or headlines. Also, list titles and those with numbers work well too.
Another thing to consider is to keep your title short, catchy, to the point, and take care to have it within 60-70 characters if possible, as Google likes that, though it’s not always possible at times.
Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead :)
You’re right. Headlines also need to be catchy and to the point, and yeah, Google likes them short. You’re also right about titles with numbers. They help prepare the reader for what to expect, like “5 Simple Steps to …” tells the reader there are five and only five steps, and they’re simple.
Thanks for stopping by.
Headlines are very important. A good line will always arouse curiosity among readers.
The technique you listed is spot on and I also love the fact that you gave examples.
Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend.
Ah, Headlines! A topic close to my heart. Yes, headlines are important and as such, need a lot of practice to become good at.
You’ve got some great examples of different types of headlines here. I like the “saggy skin” ones.
I always recommend the “problem-solution” headline creation technique and use it a lot in my own headlines. For example, looking for what people are talking about their “deep-heart problems”when at their lowest points and using their words in your headlines.
So, say you write about, or sell, cat training (I know, who’d even try, right :) ), you’d head off to read comment threads in Cat lovers forums in which they talked about what their biggest frustrations with their cat’s behaviour was. Such as:
“How do I stop my cat taking up all the room on the couch. Every night it’s just the same. I come home tired from work, hoping to spread out and relax in front of the TV and can’t because my cat’s taking up all the room. Help!”
You could take this kind of comment and create a headline:
How To Stop Your Cat Taking Up All The Room On Your Coach (and Watch TV in Peace – At Last!)
Stop Your Cat Stealing Your Couch: 3 Little-Known Tips That Actually Work
As for length of Headlines, this doesn’t matter half as much as targeting headlines at specific problems and including a promised solution.
I’ve had just as much success with long headlines as with short headlines. What matters is relevance, targeting and promised solution.
Google might like them short but do your potential readers, or clients?
That a nice way of generating headlines, Tom. I too recommend the “problem-solution.” It shows people you have a solution for them at once.
I learnt a lot, really. I use a lot of list titles. You didn’t talk about that though.
Like “8 ways to get a younger look without breaking the bank”
You get the drift? THose usually work well for me as I see that people respond well to them. But I will incorporate a few things you wrote here too. I especially like the part about ‘secret’ or question titels. It arouses curiosity, and you know we are all curious.
Glad you’ve found something you can use. List titles work too. I use them myself.
I’ve seen quite a number of these “how to write great headlines” posts floating around online…
But I must say, yours is far more to-the-point and succinct than most.
Thank for the kind words. I’m glad you liked it, and thanks for sharing. And yes, there’re a lot of headline writing post floating around the internet.