5 Kinds of Headlines ✍️
The Big Idea
A great headline will:
- Grab attention. There’s a lot to read. Great headline copy causes your copy to stand out with the reader.
- Qualify readers. Aspiring parents notice small babies; aspiring car buyers notice car ads. If you are writing copy meant for senior IT specialists describing new offerings in the IT security space, attracting tweens won’t help you meet your goals (unless, of course, they happen to be senior IT security interested).
- Draw readers into the body’s copy. Great copy will inspire readers to invest more of their time into the content—creating the itch that only the body of the text can scratch.
- Sell the big idea. Your headline is the promise that the body of the text delivers on. The headline should capture or refer to the one “big promise” that your copy is making.
- Speak with authority. If it’s not credible, it’s not interesting.
This heuristic is adapted from Ray Edwards’ lovely book, How to Write Copy that Sells
The “How To” Headline
The goal here is to write content that solves a customer need or pain point. If I need to know how to do something, you’re going to tell me how to do it.
How to Write Emails that Get Opened
How to Sell More Dessert at Your Restaurant
Write More, Faster: Your Step-by-Step Guide
The “Reasons Why” Headline
If the How To Headline answers the question of how to solve my problem, the Reasons Why headline answers why I have a problem in the first place.
7 Reasons Yours Emails Don’t Get Opened
Why Your Customers Say “No” To Dessert Sales, and How to Fix It
The “What Do I Get” Headline
Nobody wants to read your writing. So make it a trade. If you give me your time, what will you get back? If you take my advice, what results might you expect?
Give me 10 minutes and I’ll save you $8,000
Ask this sales question and double your close rate
This headline is fundamentally about a promise of an outcome—if you take the actions described in the content, you can expect the outcome listed in the headline.
The “Probing Question” Headline
These headlines are great ways of digging into a customer pain, or
Is your email open rate tanking?
Are your customers skipping your sides and desserts?
Why did McDonalds’ spend $6 billion on their menus?
The “If, Then” Headline
This takes a qualifying question (if) and a promise (then) and fuses it into a kind of “What Do I Get” headline.
If you can take a photo on your iPhone, you can be a great artist
If you have a voice, you can sing
If you have 15 minutes, you can save 15% or more on car insurance