Six questions to help you assess long headlines

Clayton Makepeace, a high-paid direct-response copywriter, once offered six questions you can ask when you think you’ve got a good headline.

  1. Does your headline offer the reader a reward for reading?
  2. What specifics can you add to make your headline more intriguing and believable? 
  3. Does your headline trigger a strong emotion that your reader already has about your topic?
  4. Does your headline present a proposition that will instantly get your prospect nodding their head? 
  5. Could your headline benefit from proposing a transaction? 
  6. Can you add an element of intrigue to drive your prospect into your body copy?  

By way of demonstration, let’s use these questions to take a closer look at some sample headlines I once wrote for Purity Woods

Does your headline offer the reader a reward for reading?

Words like “secrets,” “revealed,” and “how-to” all promise the reward of insider knowledge.

But you could also interpret Makepeace’s suggestion that readers want a reward as a kind of challenge— “Why should I take time from my day to read this?”

This is Why Thousands of Women Just Like You Are Saying No to Fillers, Harsh Chemicals, and Surgery…

I Used This Anti-Aging “Dream Cream” for 60 Days. Here’s What Happened. 

I think it’s pretty clear that both of these headlines promise that you’ll find out what you want to know if you keep reading.

What specifics could you add to make your headline more intriguing and believable?

Numbers work great here, which is why you see so many “13 Things You Need to Know” and “623%…” etc.

Get The Younger-Looking Skin You Deserve—And Start Seeing Results In Just 7 Days!

Can This Cream “Erase” Smile Lines? See What Happens When You Try Just One Bottle! (Hint: You’ll Swear It’s Magic)

Does your headline trigger a strong emotion that your reader already has about your topic?

You can use positive emotions or explore negative ones:

How To Avoid Toxins and Harsh Chemicals On Your Face—And STILL Get Better Results For Mouth Lines, Fine Wrinkles, Crepe-Paper Skin And More

Thousands of Women Are Using This “Plant-Based Botox Replacement” And LOVING The Results… (You Will Too, Guaranteed!)

Does your headline present a proposition that will instantly get your prospect nodding their head?

At Last—Younger-Looking Skin Without Surgery, Fillers, Or Other Harsh Chemicals

Finally! Now You Can Erase Visible Signs of Aging—Smile Lines, Saggy Skin, Brown Spots, And More—With An All-Natural, Organic “Wonder Cream!”

These headlines convey a sense of relief with words like “at last” and “finally”—and then they follow it up with the promise that, yes, it is possible to get the results you want without chemicals. 

Could your headline benefit from proposing a transaction? 

Use This Blend of “Super Foods For Your Face” And Start Winning Your Fight Against Smile Lines, Papery Skin, And More

You’ll Laugh in the Face of Mouth Lines When You Try This Organic “Power-Combo” Of All-Natural Botanicals

Here we’re suggesting that if they try the product, they’ll get the results they want. 

Can you add an element of intrigue to drive your prospect into your body copy? 

A secret does a great job of compelling someone to read…

Are You Being Lied To About Your Face? Here’s Why You DON’T Actually Need Deadly Toxins or Harsh Chemicals To Hide Signs of Aging…

This Organic “Dream Cream” Eliminates Visible Signs Of Aging So Gently and Naturally That Plastic Surgeons Want It Banned—For Putting Them Out of a Job!

Is there some shadowy organization of plastic surgeons who are trying to ban the cream? No, of course not. But it’s fun enough.

Summing up

If you’re observant, you’ll notice that some of these headlines tick more than one of Makepeace’s boxes.

This one, for example:

How To Avoid Toxins and Harsh Chemicals On Your Face—And STILL Get Better Results For Mouth Lines, Fine Wrinkles, Crepe-Paper Skin And More

It’s emotional AND transactional—AND it promises a reward for reading.

In other words, it gives us three shots at communicating the benefits of our product.

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