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How to Write Headlines That Work

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Tricks for Writing Headlines that Work

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This article teaches you how to write headlines that work, and gives you 5 proven headline attention grabbing templates that deliver.

Your headline is a critical element when it comes to writing.

It doesn’t matter what kind of writing you do, copywriting, blogging, article writing, or technical authoring.

Your headline will either attract or repel your audience.

If your headline doesn’t grab your reader’s attention immediately, if it doesn’t compel them to continue reading, then the rest of your page may as well be blank.

The world’s greatest copywriters spend many sleepless nights trying to create irresistible headlines, they know how important it is to write headlines that work.

So how do you write the headline? Here’s the brainstorming process:

1: Ask a question

We all feel compelled to answer a question, even if it’s only to ourselves.

2: Get personal

Use the word, ‘you’, in your headline. People want to feel it’s about them (whatever ‘it’ is).

3: Address a problem

Show that you identify with, and understand their problem. Problems, get our attention. Show that you have a solution.

4: Include emotional impact

Use strong active verbs (beat, slash, chop, stagger, shot, etc.) to create powerful headlines with emotional impact. Push your customer’s buttons.

Above all, the headline must stand on its own. It must target a specific readership. Your reader must understand where the text which follows is going.

5 Proven Headline Templates

So what are the five proven headline templates that have been shown to attract attention time and time again?

1: The Question Headline

What is the purpose of this article? A question that gets you thinking! You need a question your readers want the answer to.

For example, here is a headline by Max Sackheim, which has been used thousands of times since 1920: “Do You Make These Mistakes in English?”

Writing Headlines That Work

Many consider this headline to be the most effective headline in advertising history.

What makes the headline so irresistible? The curious side of us needs to know if we are making “these mistakes”. Humans hate making mistakes.

2: The How to Headline

This is a most effective and popular headline. The ‘how to’ headline works incredibly well. Here are a few good examples:

  • How to undo her bra with one hand
  • How to make a frozen princess cake
  • How to stop your dog from barking
  • How to get away with murder!

You wouldn’t believe the number of times these ‘how to’ queries are asked, it’s in the hundreds of millions.

3: The Numbered Headline

How to Write Headlines That Work

Numbers are an established trigger to get your readers to pay attention to your content.

Numbered headlines work well because they imply, “this message is important”. Some examples:

  • 6 ways to get on the housing ladder
  • 7 step plan to lose weight
  • 5 ways to stop your dog barking
  • 7 Ways to be a Better Sous Chef

According to the experts, numbers as digits (i.e. ‘4’) work better on the web than numbers spelled out as words (i.e. ‘four’) and get from 10% to 25% more traffic.

4: The Who Else Headline

In our day and age, people love social proof. ‘Who else’, headlines are extremely effective because they create the illusion of community.

People love being part of a community and generally want to do what other people are doing. Here are some examples of ‘Who else’ headlines:

  • Who else can you trust?
  • Who else wants to cook delicious Thai meals from home in ten minutes or less?
  • Who else can lift Thor’s hammer?
  • Guess who else is pregnant?

I’m sure you can find many more excellent, ‘who else’ headlines.

5: The ‘Trick’ Headline

The trick headline works because it implies knowledge about some strange trick that could help the reader. Some examples:

  • Here’s an old trick for cutting down belly fat
  • Here’s a trick conversation starter that women can’t resist
  • An easy trick to teach your dog to speak

Don’t get too outlandish with ‘trick’ headlines. Keep it simple.

How to Write Headlines That Work Conclusion

When writing headlines, concentrate on your target audience. Don’t care about what the non-target audience thinks about your headline. You’re not writing for them. Focus on your target audience.

If you have any comment, corrections or items you think should be added to, ‘How to Write Headlines That Work’, please do not hesitate to let me have them in the comment box below.


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