how-to-write-an-headline

How To Write An Headline That Converts

Copy must be designed to get the reader’s attention from the first word in the first line till the end of the copy, keeping your audience engaged and transfixed on the copy till he absorbs the message, gets convinced, and take the necessary action.

The message must be clear, short, and concise to enable easy communication. Like I said, excessively lengthy texts will only bore out the reader rather than impress them. You are not writing a paper for your college professor. In this chapter, I will thoroughly explain the perfect structure to go about writing your copy.

The Headline

 Your headline is the most important part of your copy, no matter what you are writing for. Even if it is a video, it is the headline that will determine if the audience will be inspired to watch or not. Your headline is similar to seeing a beautiful lady or a handsome guy; you already like what you see before talking to this person.

However, you may eventually have a conversation with the person and realize that he/she isn’t a fit for you. But if you meet a stranger looking rough and tattered, even if he has the highest IQ in existence, you won’t bother to find out because the person’s outlook isn’t a pleasant one. This is the same effect that your headline has on your copy. If it isn’t catchy or attractive, no matter how detailed and rich the body is, very few people will read that.

The 80/20 rule is fundamental, as it reminds us to focus the bulk of our energy on our headlines. If we can get 80% of the audience to read the first 20% of the copy, they will most likely read the remaining 80% of the article. “Put in more efforts to your headlines, sub-headers, and your introductory phrases – which is usually the smallest part of your copy” If you can get them to read the first 20%, then they will most likely read the remaining 80% of the content.

A poorly written headline could throw your entire copy in the bin, your potential customer is ready to spend, but if he doesn’t get convinced by your headline, he will definitely spend his money – although not with your business. If you employ a copywriter who charges you $100 for a copy. Ensure your headline is worth $80, based on the 80/20 rule; because that is where the majority of the value of a copy lies.

There are many tips on creating a highly converting headline, but I will outline a few in this guide. They are:

Be Specific

You do not need to beat about the bush. Your headline should be specific; let them know what they are signing up for in a simple sentence. Hit the nail on the head, and make it as short as possible. After reading your headline, your audience should have a clear expectation of what to expect. You can utilize numbers. This forces your content to be very specific and looks sure of your offering. This confidence is passed on to your audience, and they are inclined to get interested in your offer.

Capitalize On Emotional Words

Emotional words in copy headlines pass on the emotions in your text to your readers’ brain. Your audience will typically read your words in their minds, unconsciously emphasizing these emotional words. If you are a travel agency and you want to write a blog post as a content driver, say you want to write about the best honeymoon locations around the world. You could go: “10 AMAZING Honeymoon Destinations That You’ve Never Heard Of.” This is quite a catchy topic for a potential traveler as it lets the reader understand your emotions that these places are amazing. Eventually, the reader may open the blog post and discover that he has heard of them before, but you have gotten him to open your post. You probably even included a few CTAs that give him information on the cheapest available flight tickets; this could make your reader a subscriber to your newsletter. Whenever he decides to travel, I can bet you’ll be the first agency on his wish list as you have already created a bond with him using your copy – and it all starts from the headline. Apart from “Amazing,” there are a thousand emotional words to use in headlines. Moderation is essential, so it is very OK to use just one per headline.

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)

You can utilize the application of FOMO to your headline strategy, although only at strategic times. You need to ensure that the product is one that is in high demand. You may introduce a price slash and make people rush the product because you have ensured to let them know that there is a limited amount of stock available. Nobody wants to miss out on the bumper deals, so they will be inclined to buy these products quick before it becomes unavailable. If you sell an online tool, such as a VPN and your premium offer is $9.99 per month, you could announce via social media and to email subscribers that you will be doing a 50% price slash for the first 100 people to subscribe to your VIP package.” Many people probably want the premium package but are unwilling to pay that amount for it. But if they can see that they only need to pay $4.99 for that same value, many people will jump on the offer because they do not want to miss out on the moving train. This headline strategy has worked a lot of times, and because Internet users make a lot of emotional purchase decisions, it will always work.

As you can see from this copy, this website has created a sense of urgency with a very irresistible offer. We only have 9 hours to go, and the audience will gladly accept this offer as it’d be a cheap bargain

Offer Irresistible Benefits To Your Readers

One key strategy for creating specific headlines is offering irresistible benefits to the audience. Your headline should highlight the benefits he will get, how soon he will get it, and a clause to overcome his objections. For example: “Enjoy Unlimited Access To Keyword tools, beat your competitors at their game in a month, 100% money-back guarantee”. This offer is an irresistible offer to your potential customer who may be skeptical about being a premium subscriber to this tool. Still, as soon as he sees the 100% money-back guarantee, he is assured that it will definitely work for him, and if he doesn’t, he will get his money back. In the copy, after the headline, you should list the conditions that will make the money-back guarantee valid, such as “not using any of the premium tools” and many more.

Uniqueness

You should avoid copying the headlines of other people. Remember, your audiences are all over the place, and they know what they have seen before and where they have seen it. Don’t base your copy on plagiarism. Create something unique, and you will grab the attention of your audience. 

There are dozens of tips on creating outstanding headlines, but the summary of it all is that you should be able to get the reader curious from the headline such that he will be inspired to read the remainder of the copy. Also, offer clear benefits to your readers, let them know what to take away from reading the headline, and ensure that your benefits are guaranteed to be enjoyed as early as possible. 

You may also input your headline into a free headline analyzer, the “American Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer” to determine the strength of your headline.

Key Highlights for Writing Compelling Copy:

  • The Headline Matters Most: The headline is crucial for attracting readers’ attention. It’s like a first impression that determines whether people engage with your content.
  • 80/20 Rule: Focus 80% of your effort on crafting powerful headlines, sub-headers, and introductions. This initial engagement often leads to the rest of your content being read.
  • Be Specific: Your headline should convey a clear message in a concise manner. Avoid ambiguity; use numbers to make your offering precise and attractive.
  • Emotional Appeal: Use emotional words to connect with readers and evoke a response. Emotional headlines resonate better and draw readers in.
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Create urgency with limited-time offers or deals. Trigger FOMO to encourage quick action, especially for high-demand products or services.
  • Irresistible Benefits: Highlight the benefits readers will gain from your content or offer. Address objections, show quick results, and include guarantees for added appeal.
  • Uniqueness: Avoid copying headlines from others. Originality captures attention and prevents your content from blending in with others.
  • Create Curiosity: Craft headlines that pique readers’ curiosity and make them eager to learn more. The headline should provide a teaser of what’s inside.
  • Headline Analyzer: Use tools like the “American Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer” to assess the effectiveness of your headline in capturing attention.

Read NextCopywriting Examples, Unique Value PropositionBusiness WritingCopywritingEmail MarketingSEOSocial Media MarketingContent Marketing.

Visual Marketing Glossary

Account-Based Marketing

account-based-marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy where the marketing and sales departments come together to create personalized buying experiences for high-value accounts. Account-based marketing is a business-to-business (B2B) approach in which marketing and sales teams work together to target high-value accounts and turn them into customers.

Ad-Ops

ad-ops
Ad Ops – also known as Digital Ad Operations – refers to systems and processes that support digital advertisements’ delivery and management. The concept describes any process that helps a marketing team manage, run, or optimize ad campaigns, making them an integrating part of the business operations.

AARRR Funnel

pirate-metrics
Venture capitalist, Dave McClure, coined the acronym AARRR which is a simplified model that enables to understand what metrics and channels to look at, at each stage for the users’ path toward becoming customers and referrers of a brand.

Affinity Marketing

affinity-marketing
Affinity marketing involves a partnership between two or more businesses to sell more products. Note that this is a mutually beneficial arrangement where one brand can extend its reach and enhance its credibility in association with the other.

Ambush Marketing

ambush-marketing
As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Affiliate Marketing

affiliate-marketing
Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Bullseye Framework

bullseye-framework
The bullseye framework is a simple method that enables you to prioritize the marketing channels that will make your company gain traction. The main logic of the bullseye framework is to find the marketing channels that work and prioritize them.

Brand Building

brand-building
Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Dilution

brand-dilution
According to inbound marketing platform HubSpot, brand dilution occurs “when a company’s brand equity diminishes due to an unsuccessful brand extension, which is a new product the company develops in an industry that they don’t have any market share in.” Brand dilution, therefore, occurs when a brand decreases in value after the company releases a product that does not align with its vision, mission, or skillset. 

Brand Essence Wheel

brand-essence-wheel
The brand essence wheel is a templated approach businesses can use to better understand their brand. The brand essence wheel has obvious implications for external brand strategy. However, it is equally important in simplifying brand strategy for employees without a strong marketing background. Although many variations of the brand essence wheel exist, a comprehensive wheel incorporates information from five categories: attributes, benefits, values, personality, brand essence.

Brand Equity

what-is-brand-equity
The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

brand-positioning
Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

business-storytelling
Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

content-marketing
Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Customer Lifetime Value

customer-lifetime-value
One of the first mentions of customer lifetime value was in the 1988 book Database Marketing: Strategy and Implementation written by Robert Shaw and Merlin Stone. Customer lifetime value (CLV) represents the value of a customer to a company over a period of time. It represents a critical business metric, especially for SaaS or recurring revenue-based businesses.

Customer Segmentation

customer-segmentation
Customer segmentation is a marketing method that divides the customers in sub-groups, that share similar characteristics. Thus, product, marketing and engineering teams can center the strategy from go-to-market to product development and communication around each sub-group. Customer segments can be broken down is several ways, such as demographics, geography, psychographics and more.

Developer Marketing

developer-marketing
Developer marketing encompasses tactics designed to grow awareness and adopt software tools, solutions, and SaaS platforms. Developer marketing has become the standard among software companies with a platform component, where developers can build applications on top of the core software or open software. Therefore, engaging developer communities has become a key element of marketing for many digital businesses.

Digital Marketing Channels

digital-marketing-channels
A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Field Marketing

field-marketing
Field marketing is a general term that encompasses face-to-face marketing activities carried out in the field. These activities may include street promotions, conferences, sales, and various forms of experiential marketing. Field marketing, therefore, refers to any marketing activity that is performed in the field.

Funnel Marketing

funnel-marketing
interaction with a brand until they become a paid customer and beyond. Funnel marketing is modeled after the marketing funnel, a concept that tells the company how it should market to consumers based on their position in the funnel itself. The notion of a customer embarking on a journey when interacting with a brand was first proposed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. Funnel marketing typically considers three stages of a non-linear marketing funnel. These are top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). Particular marketing strategies at each stage are adapted to the level of familiarity the consumer has with a brand.

Go-To-Market Strategy

go-to-market-strategy
A go-to-market strategy represents how companies market their new products to reach target customers in a scalable and repeatable way. It starts with how new products/services get developed to how these organizations target potential customers (via sales and marketing models) to enable their value proposition to be delivered to create a competitive advantage.

Greenwashing

greenwashing
The term “greenwashing” was first coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 at a time when most consumers received their news from television, radio, and print media. Some companies took advantage of limited public access to information by portraying themselves as environmental stewards – even when their actions proved otherwise. Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing practice where a company makes unsubstantiated claims about an environmentally-friendly product or service.

Grassroots Marketing

grassroots-marketing
Grassroots marketing involves a brand creating highly targeted content for a particular niche or audience. When an organization engages in grassroots marketing, it focuses on a small group of people with the hope that its marketing message is shared with a progressively larger audience.

Growth Marketing

growth-marketing
Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

guerrilla-marketing
Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Hunger Marketing

hunger-marketing
Hunger marketing is a marketing strategy focused on manipulating consumer emotions. By bringing products to market with an attractive price point and restricted supply, consumers have a stronger desire to make a purchase.

Integrated Communication

integrated-marketing-communication
Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies. Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

Inbound Marketing

inbound-marketing
Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

integrated-marketing
Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

marketing-mix
The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Myopia

marketing-myopia
Marketing myopia is the nearsighted focus on selling goods and services at the expense of consumer needs. Marketing myopia was coined by Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt in 1960. Originally, Levitt described the concept in the context of organizations in high-growth industries that become complacent in their belief that such industries never fail.

Marketing Personas

marketing-personas
Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Meme Marketing

meme-marketing
Meme marketing is any marketing strategy that uses memes to promote a brand. The term “meme” itself was popularized by author Richard Dawkins over 50 years later in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. In the book, Dawkins described how ideas evolved and were shared across different cultures. The internet has enabled this exchange to occur at an exponential rate, with the first modern memes emerging in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Microtargeting

microtargeting
Microtargeting is a marketing strategy that utilizes consumer demographic data to identify the interests of a very specific group of individuals. Like most marketing strategies, the goal of microtargeting is to positively influence consumer behavior.

Multi-Channel Marketing

multichannel-marketing
Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

multilevel-marketing
Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Net Promoter Score

net-promoter-score
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of the ability of a product or service to attract word-of-mouth advertising. NPS is a crucial part of any marketing strategy since attracting and then retaining customers means they are more likely to recommend a business to others.

Neuromarketing

neuromarketing
Neuromarketing information is collected by measuring brain activity related to specific brain functions using sophisticated and expensive technology such as MRI machines. Some businesses also choose to make inferences of neurological responses by analyzing biometric and heart-rate data. Neuromarketing is the domain of large companies with similarly large budgets or subsidies. These include Frito-Lay, Google, and The Weather Channel.

Newsjacking

newsjacking
Newsjacking as a marketing strategy was popularised by David Meerman Scott in his book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Newsjacking describes the practice of aligning a brand with a current event to generate media attention and increase brand exposure.

Niche Marketing

microniche
A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Push vs. Pull Marketing

push-vs-pull-marketing
We can define pull and push marketing from the perspective of the target audience or customers. In push marketing, as the name suggests, you’re promoting a product so that consumers can see it. In a pull strategy, consumers might look for your product or service drawn by its brand.

Real-Time Marketing

real-time-marketing
Real-time marketing is as exactly as it sounds. It involves in-the-moment marketing to customers across any channel based on how that customer is interacting with the brand.

Relationship Marketing

relationship-marketing
Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Reverse Marketing

reverse-marketing
Reverse marketing describes any marketing strategy that encourages consumers to seek out a product or company on their own. This approach differs from a traditional marketing strategy where marketers seek out the consumer.

Remarketing

remarketing
Remarketing involves the creation of personalized and targeted ads for consumers who have already visited a company’s website. The process works in this way: as users visit a brand’s website, they are tagged with cookies that follow the users, and as they land on advertising platforms where retargeting is an option (like social media platforms) they get served ads based on their navigation.

Sensory Marketing

sensory-marketing
Sensory marketing describes any marketing campaign designed to appeal to the five human senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling marketers to design fun, interactive, and immersive sensory marketing brand experiences. Long term, businesses must develop sensory marketing campaigns that are relevant and effective in eCommerce.

Services Marketing

services-marketing
Services marketing originated as a separate field of study during the 1980s. Researchers realized that the unique characteristics of services required different marketing strategies to those used in the promotion of physical goods. Services marketing is a specialized branch of marketing that promotes the intangible benefits delivered by a company to create customer value.

Sustainable Marketing

sustainable-marketing-green-marketing
Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

word-of-mouth-marketing
Word-of-mouth marketing is a marketing strategy skewed toward offering a great experience to existing customers and incentivizing them to share it with other potential customers. That is one of the most effective forms of marketing as it enables a company to gain traction based on existing customers’ referrals. When repeat customers become a key enabler for the brand this is one of the best organic and sustainable growth marketing strategies.

360 Marketing

360-marketing
360 marketing is a marketing campaign that utilizes all available mediums, channels, and consumer touchpoints. 360 marketing requires the business to maintain a consistent presence across multiple online and offline channels. This ensures it does not miss potentially lucrative customer segments. By its very nature, 360 marketing describes any number of different marketing strategies. However, a broad and holistic marketing strategy should incorporate a website, SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, public relations, in-store relations, and traditional forms of advertising such as television.

About The Author

Scroll to Top
FourWeekMBA