How to Write Magnetic Headlines – 4 Headline Writing Rules
Especially when you are paying money to buy advertisement space (Internet Marketing Term: “Pay-Per-Click (PPC)“) from social media networks like, Facebook or Twitter, it is important that your advertisements are being looked at.
Often times when you see advertisements from newspapers and on the internet, what would you do most of the time? I guess you would skip or ignore it right?
If I guess correctly, you would only react to advertisements that appeals to you and which you think are relevant and beneficial to you.
Have you ever thought of why the advertisement appeals to you? What exactly makes you want to react to the advertisement? What makes you want to buy a product after seeing the advertisement?
If you can understand the elements that create an appealing advertisement, you will be very successful online.
Late John Caples, a well-known copywriter, once wrote “If you can come up with a good headline, you are almost sure to have a good advertisement”.
So, today, we are going to talk about how to write headlines that will grab the unwavering attention of your readers.
What exactly is the purpose of a Headline?
More than just to grab attention, it serves 3 purposes:
- Get attention
- Select the audience
- Draw the reader into the body content
At the end of this section, I will share with you the scientific method to how to write headlines effectively.
1. Getting the attention
No matter how great or persuasive your content in your body content is, if you do not have a great headline that compliments your body content, you will not be able to make any sales.
Grabbing the attention of people in this century has become harder than ever.
With the advancement of technology, people are bombarded with tonnes of advertisements every day.
I am sure you have experienced that yourself.
Studies have shown that it takes a person less than 5 seconds to decide if an advertisement is appealing.
So, if the headline of your advertisement is not able to grab the attention within that mere seconds, it will be ignored.
When you enter a bookstore, there are thousands of books on its shelves, what would you do first?
I am sure you wouldn’t go through thousands of books one by one to find one that interests you.
You would first go to the section of your interest like “Self-Help, Fiction, Non-Fiction, etc.”. This way, you have already narrowed down your search to a few hundred books.
Then, you will go through the shelves to find books that appeal to you.
You will first look at the design, the headline, then to the content page to see if it is appealing.
If the “First Impression” of the book does not appeal to you, you will ignore it almost immediately.
You see, the way books are sold, almost relates to any form of advertisement.
Within that small little space on the spine of the book, it contains the title and a subtitle of the book that will supposedly grab your attention.
Similarly with advertisements on social media networks, you are given a limited number of words to convey the purpose of your advertisement.
How to know if the Headline is attention grabbing
If the first impression of your advertisement is boring or irrelevant, your prospects will not react to it.
People will often react to Headlines if it offers news or helpful information or rewards for reading the advertisement.
Before you write any headlines or content, you have to first understand the needs and wants of your prospects.
And after that, you can then write a headline that communicates the benefits of the product in the most concise and effective manner possible.
In the book “The Copywriter’s Handbook” by Rober W. Bly, he explains that an effective headline tells the reader:
“Hey, stop a minute! This is something that you’ll want”
“The best headlines appeal to people’s self-interest, or give news”
To gauge whether your headline is attention grabbing, I would advise that you put yourself in the shoe of your prospects and ask yourself if the headline appeals to you.
2. Selecting the Audience
Let’s go back to the “Bookstore” scenario I’ve mentioned above.
When you enter a bookstore filled with thousands of books, you probably already know what kind of books you are looking for.
You will go to the relevant section to look for the books that appeals to you.
Similarly, in the social media space, your prospects are generally looking for things that interests them.
And, there are hundreds of things happening for your prospects every minute in the social media networks.
As I’ve mentioned above, your prospects will only click on advertisements or articles that is relevant to them.
A couple of days ago…
I saw a headline on Facebook “Prepare for the cost of raising a child in Singapore”.
Given that I am a Singaporean, and my wife and I are expecting our little boy this July, I would be interested to know what is the cost of raising my child in Singapore.
This headline would not appeal to someone who is planning for retirement or someone who do not plan to have a child.
So, your headline plays an important role to select your audience.
The best way to write a headline that is highly relevant to your audience is to “Know who you are writing for”. I will share my checklist for writing a headline below.
3. Drawing the Reader into the Body Content
Curiosity is the key for drawing your prospect to read your body Content.
What do you think of the headline “Prepare for the cost of raising a child in Singapore”? Will you be curious about the content of the article?
Maybe if you are not a Singaporean, you will be less curious about the content inherent in the headline.
But to someone, like me, I will be curious as it relates to me and I want that information.
But what if you change “Singapore” to your home country? Will you be interested then?
Another headline that I saw recently that grabs my attention…
“3 Disturbing Observations About Singaporeans’ Attitude Towards Planing for Retirement”
Have any thoughts on that?
For me, the first 3 words of the headline already arouse curiosity. I would say that the headline is great as it serves the 3 purposes of a headline.
If you realize, all the above I’ve mentioned leads to one simple word “Relevancy”. If your headline is well relevant to your prospect, then you have done a good job with your advertisement.
Some Good Examples…
Good examples of great headline which serves the 3 purposes of a headline:
- A little mistake that cost a farmer $3,000 a year
- How a New Discovery made a plain girl beautiful
- How to win friends and influence people
- Prepare for the cost of raising a child in Singapore
Check List for Writing an Awesome Headline
My Check List for writing a headline:
- Who are my Audiences?
- What are…
- their needs and wants?
- the benefits that they are looking for?
- the specific details they are looking for in a product?
>Check out the scientific method to justify the effectiveness of your headline here.
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Thanks for reading thus far!