Headlines are a passion of mine. I’m always testing new headlines, reading other headlines, and studying classic headlines written by copywriting giants such as Claude C. Hopkins, John Caples, and David Ogilvy.
It’s amazing to me how something that would seem so simple, could be so hard to do.
There are many times when I land on someone’s website and when looking at the headline (or the area where a headline should be), I find the following:
- Bland headlines
- Complex headlines
- Feature-focused headline
- Too clever for its own good headline
So here are four quick and easy ways you can spice your headlines:
Be direct and specific
Here is an example of a bland headline: Saves You Time and Money
That’s the start of a brainstorming session with the word “how does it” prefacing the conversation, not the end product. Where is the proof?
When possible, always use specific numbers and percentages in your copy. With ABC, You’ll Stop Wasting 27 Hours By Doing It Yourself. The more specific, the better. 67% sounds better than 60% Saving “$1389” sounds better than “$1400.”
There have been times I’ve read a headline and then shook my head. I had no idea what the company was really trying to say.
Don’t complicate what you have to offer. People care about what your product or service can do for them. This usually doesn’t take a lot of words. Avoid technical words or industry jargon. Instead of Providing Positive-pressure Ventilatory Support, say With ABC Product, You’ll Breathe Easier.
Be “you” focused
Whenever I create a headline, I always try to include “you” in it as much as possible. Instead of Common Mistakes Made In English, try Do You Make These Mistakes In English?
When you put the word “you” in your title, your audience will immediately connect. It catches their eye because it’s difficult to ignore a headline that speaks directly to you. Take whatever benefits your product or service can offer and create your copy to how it will help the “you” of your target market.
Denny Hatch from Target Marketing Magazine focused on a car rental company that completely blew it with their “too-clever-for-words” type of headline. The company is Zipcar, which rents cars by the hour. Their headlines were beauties such as:
ZIP IT OFF THE LIST.
DON’T JUST ZIPPING
ZIP OUT OF THE BORED ROOM.
ZIP OFF THE GRID.
Do those headlines tell the visitor anything useful? Is their service offering obvious?
Zipcar has since changed their headlines. Now they have this: Cars by the hour or day. Gas & insurance included.
It is very clear now, what they offer.
It’s tempting to be witty or clever with headlines. Many people think that’s what will grab someone’s attention. But your readers are short on time and need clarity.
Don’t make them try to figure out what you do with such a headline, otherwise there’s a very good chance that they’ll only spend a few seconds on your site before moving on to the next thing.
Headlines help flag down your prospect. They say in so many words, Hey! Look over here! Look at what I can do for you!
A simple headline that clearly states a specific benefit will win the day, every time.