Every now and then you’re just not in the mood to master copywriting principles, you just need something you can swipe quick and use in your own copy.
I hear ya.
So this morning I did some research (aka hanging out on Twitter) to grab a sample of headline styles that use different copywriting techniques to get the reader’s attention. Use this list to give you some quick inspiration for your own eye-catching headlines.
1. Address Insecurities
A powerful headline technique is to address the concerns and insecurities of your ideal customer. Carol Tice, the writer of this tweet, helps freelance writers make a better living.
So in this case, her readers will notice this because they worry about making mistakes and worry that those mistakes will jeopardise their businesses.
Think about the service you offer and the clients you serve. What worries them about solving their problem? If you teach social media marketing do your customers worry about making a fool of themselves online? If you teach nutrition and fitness do your customers worry about making mistakes that might lead to worse health or injuries?
This knowledge about your customer can lead you to write some very compelling headlines.
2. The Good Old “How-To”
Some headlines are sturdy workhorses that never go out of fashion and one of those is the old “How-To” or “How Can You.”
Your ideal customer wants to learn, do, figure out or master something. What is it? Once you work this out you can write some engaging “How-To” or “How Can You” headlines.
Bonus tip – if you can add something to make it even more specific to your audience, all the better. So “How to Get More Sales By Friday” is more powerful than “How to Get More Sales.
Well one reason is because…
3. Everybody Loves a Shortcut
People want to achieve a lot in a little time. We know there’s no real easy button, but that’s not going to stop us looking for it. That’s why headlines that promise shortcuts are popular.
So can you offer your readers tools or services that help them achieve what they want faster than they would otherwise? Let them know about it in your headline.
4. Tickle Their Curiosity
Curiosity is a natural trait alive and well in humans.
We’re motivated to find things out and make sense of the world around us. As a result, tempting your reader with something they might not know (but sounds interesting) can tickle that curiosity button enough to make them click your link and read your copy.
What kind of curiosity can you use with your readers or customers?
The number headline is not going away anytime soon. We read them, love them and share them and more importantly, number headlines are very eye-catching. So don’t shun them. Instead, remember that:
[Number]+[subject interesting to your customer]= eye-catching headline
6. Ooooh Naughty!
I remember learning the word “prurient” for a school speaking event and thinking it sounded fantastic and posh.
It actually means: “Having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters” and there is a little bit in all of us.
As humans, we are interested in something a bit “naughty.” That’s not to say that you have to create lewd headlines, but if you ignore the fact that people do have an interest in “dirty little secrets” you’re missing great headline opportunities.
7. Wow… Newsworthy
Sometimes the content alone is strong enough for a headline. Use this headline style if there have been important developments in your industry that would interest your readers (a new Google update for example).
A word of warning, make sure your ‘newsworthy’ headline is news to your customer. Winning an award for your business might be news to you, but sadly might not be as interesting to your customer. (If you have won an award though, go you! I’m rooting for ya).
8. The Downright Bizarre
I think the headline says it all…
9. Turn Their World Upside Down
I love these headline styles.
They’re irresistible and challenge your reader to try and imagine what the article, product or service could possibly be about.
What ways can you turn some of your customers’ common beliefs upside down?
10. Promise Ambition and Dreams
Our first headline looked at our customer’s insecurities, and I’m bookending this list with a headline that appeals to the reader’s dreams as well as curiosity.
This headline align’s the reader’s self-image or desire to be a “successful person.” So they’re encouraged to click the link to find out if they’re already acting like a successful person, or if there are things they need to tweak in their routine.
Twitter is a great place to find headline inspiration. Have you used it this way before? Share your blog headlines below!
Sue Neal says
A great headline, and a fantastic post that delivered what was promised – excellent tips and inspiring examples. I’m always drawn to posts about headlines, and this is one of the best I’ve come across – short, to the point, and full of value.
Thanks Sue. I’m a headline junkie myself but must confess I love seeing examples in play to help the theory stick. That’s why I spend so much time on Twitter, all work research (honest) 🙂
Amanda Cleary Eastep says
Excellent post, Amy, and great examples. The headline compelled me to click!
Thanks Amanda, so glad you did click through. 🙂
Hi Amy – Developing headlines that prompt action, don’t over-promise and don’t sound cheesy takes work! Continually learning, but improving. Here’s an example of a recent headline:
2 Mistakes With Images That Can Make You Look Unprofessional
I like the headline Caroline! Quick tip, if you drop the ‘can’ it makes your headline bolder and more confident: “2 Mistakes With Images That Make You Look Unprofessional” or you could even extend it to the example from Carol Tice: “2 Mistakes With Images That Lose You Clients”
But yep, headline development is never-ending 🙂
Gosh yes – removing just the one word makes a big difference. So, I’ll add ‘being concise’ to the list of things a headline has to be. Not much to think about, is there 🙂
Working on headlines will certainly keep you out of mischief 🙂