Four things to remember when writing headlines

There’s no “easy” way to write good headlines. The good news is you CAN generate more conversions if you remember four simple principles.

Here’s a quote from original “Mad” man David Ogilvy, from his book, Ogilvy on Advertising:

On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.

Ogilvy’s math doesn’t seem to add up, and I can’t find the source of his stats.

But in a way, that doesn’t matter.

Because here’s the point: show your copy to 100 people.  The majority of them will stop at the headline and move on. 

Now, here’s even more bad news—

There’s no “easy” way to write good headlines. And no guarantee you can markedly improve the number of people who read your headline and stop in their tracks.

Now, you might see formula after formula promising that if you just plug your product name into the blanks, then you’ll magically come up with something great.

But no, that’s not true either.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

The good news is you CAN generate more conversions if you remember four simple principles.

1. Your readers want to solve a problem.

By speaking to that problem in your headline, you’ll naturally attract more attention. And you’ll be able to stay away from some of the flashier fireworks that read as “desperate” on today’s Web.

2. Clickbait might get clicks, but it hurts your sales.

Readers have become tired of clicking on things that end up disappointing them.

Be enticing, but don’t overpromise.

3. Your headline should align with both your objective and your Big Idea.

Ask yourself, “What’s the point of my copy—and what do I need to say?”

4. For the best results, use the words your readers use.

The right word can instantly convey expertise and authority.

Have a quick look at these examples:

The 6 Secrets of Member Retention for CrossFit Boxes

Master These RD Marketing Strategies NOW (Before Your Competitors Do)

Three “Can’t-Miss” Ways to Reliably Double Your Family Office Leads

“Family office,” “RD,” “boxes.”

These bits of jargon are used by the industries the headlines are targeting: CrossFit gyms, registered dietitians, and investment professionals.

Using words like these yourself can help to earn you an “in.” (Or at the very least, keep your readers from instantly ruling you out as a pretender.)

Getting back to Ogilvy, it doesn’t matter whether he was quoting scientific proof or just blustering.

Because this much is clear to me, and I hope to you, too—you’ve got a lot riding on your headline.

And you owe it to yourself (and to your offer) to make it as effective as you can.

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