This article is for the rest of us – people who are NOT professional copywriters, but need good copy and good headlines for our websites and email newsletters.
Let’s focus in this article on writing good headlines. Or, in the case of email newsletters, good subject lines.
The purpose of a headline or subject line is to grab the reader’s attention and motivate them to want to read further. If you can’t get them past the headline, the rest of your copy is wasted, no matter how elegantly it’s written.
Most of the examples are funny, but you’ll get the point. When you’re done, check out my companion blog post, 6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters.
I’ll share 3 headline writing tips today:
- Use numbers
- Tell a secret
- Use emotion
- _____ (number) _____ (adjective) Ways To _____ (thing they want to do or to have or to become)
- _____ (time) to Learn/Get _____ (topic)
- 10 Easy Ways to Wash Your Dog
- 5 Exciting Ways to Make Spinach That Children Will Eat
- 20 Minutes to Learn Chess Like a Pro
- Get a Complete Personality Makeover in 10 Minutes or Less
Tell a Secret
Everyone wants to the learn the insider secrets of people who have been successful.
- My Secret Formula to _____ (thing they want to do or have or become)
- Insider’s Guide to _____
- Easy Success Secrets to Create _____
- I’m Drawing Back The Curtain and Revealing My Secret Formula to Buying Pencil Holders
- 10 Secrets Steps to Finding Online Grammar Mistakes
People are only motivated by two things: to go towards pleasure and to get away from pain. But pleasure and pain can be subtle. For instance, I find it a pleasure to learn something new, to increase my mastery of a subject. So if I see a headline that promises to teach me something, I will always continue reading.
Another thing that motivates people is scarcity. If you TRULY have a limited number of items available (don’t lie to people about this, folks, they can see right through a scam), then telling them how many are left can get them to read the rest of your web page or email newsletter. Also, if there is a time limit, that motivates, too.
Think about what emotion your customer wants to feel. Confident? Energetic? Free? Safe? Take a moment and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Then you can write a headline that speaks to their emotional needs. (Look at the photo above…who would respond to a Stop sign like that?)
- _____ (number) Keys to_____ (topic or outcome)
- Learn _____ (topic)
- How to _____ (outcome)
- Only _____ (number) of _____ (item) Available
- You Have Done _____ , Now Try _____
- Do You Have _____ (name of problem)?
- _____ (name of problem) Got You Down?
- Do You Want _____ (name of desired item or outcome)?
- Never Be _____ Again!
To increase the motivation level, use phrases like hurry, last chance, and only.
- 3 Keys to Better Peanut Butter Sushi
- Learn to Buy Fresher Bread
- Only 5 Seats Available for Seat Sitting 101 Seminar
- Last Chance! Special 1 Percent Off Coupon Expires Wednesday
- Do You Want a Better Goldfish?
- Find Your Keys. Find Your Children. How to Solve Your Clutter Problems.
(Okay, some of these are silly. Just making sure you’re paying attention!)
Plain and Simple
Don’t forget the basic, informational headline. You don’t always have to get jazzy with your headline or subject line; sometimes just saying what the article is about is motivating enough. What if you were to see these simple headlines or subject lines?
- 50 Percent Off All Classes
- How To Type Faster
- The Recording Is Available Now
TAKE ACTION NOW: Now take these headline tips and write three possible headlines or subject lines for your next article or email newsletter. Play with them until they feel right. Then try them out and watch the results!
Want more information on copywriting? Let me know in the comments area of this post and I’ll create more copywriting blog posts in the future! I could write about this stuff all day. 🙂