How I Made $10,617.15 Yesterday with Just One Phone Call?
The truth is, I did not. But it got your attention, didn’t it? That’s a good start. If your headlines make your readers interested in what you have to say, they might even read the whole piece. Without this first hook, it’ll be hard to encourage them even to skim the text.
That’s why the art of writing converting headlines is crucial – no matter the type of content. Blog posts? Sales Letter? Emails? They are everywhere.
The reality is, some people read content not because they were actively looking for particular information, but because a headline encouraged them to do so.
Keep in mind that if people don’t read what you have to say, you might be losing potential customers, affiliate sales or sign-ups. What makes some headlines more effective than others?
Why do such headlines work like a charm?
Who wouldn’t like to make ten grand with one phone call? Even though headlines like the above one are often misleading, most people would click and read the article or email anyway. This is because they are too curious to say no – even if they know that something sounds too good to be true.
Naturally, curiosity alone is not enough to achieve any substantial business results. Such headline has to match the content (and the offer if there’s any). If your readers find the content disappointing, even the best headlines will do more harm than good.
If you keep using clickbaity headlines without giving your readers anything interesting in return for their click (and time), you’ll lose their trust in a blink of an eye. They’ll leave the site faster than they got there, what will skyrocket your bounce-rate. And indicate to Google your visitors don’t like your website.
But, even if your readers leave as soon as they realize you tricked them, they are very likely to fall for the same trick again and again. In fact, if you were to keep changing domains (not feasible when building a web property or a brand), this technique would probably never fail.
This is because, apart from curiosity, such headlines (as well as articles and offers that come with them) use some of the strongest emotions such as greed, laziness, fear or anger.
Where to find great headlines for your web property?
Who spends the most money on a great copy? Big companies and online marketers of course!
The good news is, headlines are everywhere. Go to Google or Bing. Type in any search phrase. Hit enter and bam! Ads. Search results. Each of them has a unique headline, optimized (of course unless you’ve typed a keyword no-one cares about) to grab the attention of the reader and attract that one click.
Go to any site of a popular magazine. Banner ads and sponsored content popping up like there’s no tomorrow. But, while some of the advertising networks (such as AdWords) limit the creativity of the copywriters, there are places where they have a lot more freedom. One of them is Clickbank.
An affiliate platform where people can sell their own digital products or promote those of others. And, one of the best places to look for high-quality, polished sales letters.
With hundreds of digital e-courses and other products in various niches available to choose from, it’s a real goldmine.
Naturally, you can’t take a “make money online” product and apply its copy principles just to any niche. That’s why the best way to find top-notch headlines for your content is to watch your direct competitors.
But don’t copy them. See what works for them and adjust it for your audience. Take into account the type of relationship that you have with your readers. The language that you use on a daily basis and, of course, the kind of content that you’re creating.
So, how do you write a headline that fits your audience and makes the reader want to stop and read? Let’s go over a few examples and try to find out.
The Basics: Grab Your Reader’s Attention or Get Lost!
A headline is the first thing that people see. By many marketers, it is considered the critical part of every article, email, ad copy or sales page.
Its job is to grab the attention of the visitors and present the idea behind your product or article in a way that encourages the visitor to stay on the page.
A headline that’s written with the content and your audience in mind can be used to pre-qualify your visitors. By giving them the idea of the problem that your product can solve or by showing them a hint of a story that the article is about, they can decide whether they want to click or leave.
Of course, don’t show them too much. Reveal just enough to hook your visitors and make them want to enter your site.
Because of their vital role in the sales process, some people get the idea of a good headline all wrong. It’s easy to spot especially when it comes to sales pages.
The problem is some marketers believe that if the promise is unbelievable enough, people will be interested in reading the rest of the sales pitch no matter their needs. That could not be further from the truth.
It is true that an exaggeration attracts attention. But if your offer can’t match the promise, your customers will sooner or later get pissed. That’s why if you’re serious about your online business, clickbaity headlines are not the best way to go.
Naturally, there are businesses and web properties where such techniques yield excellent results. One of them is a news site (in fact, any website that’s getting paid for the number of ad impressions will profit from such headlines). But when it comes to a sales page, hard-to-believe promises can make your customers too skeptical to open their wallets and take out their credit cards.
Headlines – Examples
Now that you know why clickbaity headlines are not the best choice for a long-term business let’s see some examples of good and bad headlines. The best ones have a strong message, one that immediately makes your readers interested and curious about the content.
Sales Letter Headline Good Example: Less Is More
Let’s take a look at sample headlines from the e-business & e-marketing section of ClickBank. Take a look at number one. Who wouldn’t like to make money while sitting in pajamas all day long? What’s important here is the amount of money. Why?
$8,520 per month doesn’t sound like much, does it? At least compared to some products offering the same amount in a day 🙂 I think it looks achievable even for an “average Joe”. Usually, amounts that are “within reach” convert a lot better than the somewhat exaggerated numbers.
The earnings are distinguished from the rest of the headline and easy to spot right away. Moreover, the words Discover and Weird add a little bit of mystery to the message. The headline is short, concise and sparks curiosity right away. No wonder this is one of the best-selling products in its category.
Sales Letter Headline Bad Example: A Wall of Text is Not a Headline
Now let’s take a look at the second headline. You don’t have to read it – it’s boring and way too long. There are no highlights, and there is no story behind it – it’s just a big blue wall of text.
Everyone would like to build a successful online business, but there’s just too much of everything advertised. Even if you were to build a business using the system advertised, focusing on that many things is not the smartest idea. Especially for beginners.
If you take a closer look, you may find a typo in the 5th line – “hocial media”. Rather than being an invitation, I bet this headline is scaring visitors off the moment they see it. I can’t really think of anyone who would be interested in reading that sales page after being presented with such a poorly written piece of text.
To my surprise, this sales page is making money – of course, compared to the former example its tens of times less profitable and generates a lot fewer sales. Imagine what the statistics would be like if this business owner improved the copy on its online asset?
Do They Trust You? Credibility at First Sight (A Good Example)
The third headline presents an idea of making $100,000 per year as a social media manager (who outsources the work = free 100 grand. How cool is that?). Just like in the headline #1, its main part is short, concise, and presents the offer immediately.
There is an “amazing secret,” to spark a little bit of curiosity. The amount of money is visible right away and believable. It’s big enough to make you dream about it but small enough to look achievable.
Now let’s focus on what’s above and under the headline. Above it, you can see logos of reliable online brands such as Udemy, Entrepreneur.com, Wired, and TEDx. Showing such strong social proof strengthens the site’s credibility and helps establish authority and trust.
The sub-headline provides us with more information about the product. Enough to make the reader want to learn more, without going into too many details. If instead of the wall of text in the example #2 there was a headline and a subheadline, it would be a lot more effective. Of course, it would still have to be re-written.
Advertorial Headlines – A Compelling Story
Another type of headline is an advertorial one. Its primary goal is to convince you that the article you are about to read is a real news. It is particularly popular in native ads, which can be found just next to the “read more” or “related posts” sections of most big news outlets and content-rich sites.
Of course, not all advertorials are written in a way resembling news. But these are the ones most often promoted with the use of native advertising. Let’s go over the first advertorial example.
Advertorial Example #1 – A story almost too good to be true
Because the headline has to sell you the idea that what you read is a news article, the above headline focuses on a story. In this case, it’s a story of a “fired employee,“ who made a significant sum of money and bought back the business from which he was fired. What a great revenge. I bet there are hundreds of people who’d love to do just that. I must say the advertorial was pretty convincing:
In fact, I realized it’s fake only after I saw the forex graphs (the article was promoting a forex investment platform). Of course, there’s no single mention of Forex; instead, the article is all about “smart” investments in the capital market.
To be honest, it’s a shame the story was fake. It could have made the news all over the world in no time.
Advertorial Example #2 – You Can Do It Too!
Example #2 is yet another neat headline that catches the attention right away. I don’t know if you’ve seen a similar headline before (the article promotes Babble Voices), but I see it anytime I browse the web and come across a native ads section. I suppose that by now it’s there most likely thanks to cookies and re-targeting.
What’s interesting is that the people behind it are doing a lot of A/B testing and change their landing pages and headlines quite often (I checked a lot of them).
The concept behind the above headline is straightforward. It makes you think that if a perfectly normal, average guy managed to learn nine languages, then there is no reason why you couldn’t achieve the same result.
Even if it’s a little bit of exaggeration, number nine is quite important here – very little people need nine languages, but a lot of us would love to speak three or four languages.Or at least one foreign language.
That’s where the rationalization kicks in. “He may be a genius, but I don’t really need nine languages – all I need to learn are two or three (or one) without any effort. It’s an excellent product for me!” Two minutes later, the same person clicks the “buy now” button.
News Article Headline
Headlines are essential for all kinds of articles – not just those that are trying to sell you something. And the examples of that are everywhere. One of the best examples of that is every news site. They make money from the ads they serve, so their editors do their best to make you click and read, click and read. Rinse & repeat.
Take a look at the below headlines from CNN.com and BBC.com. To make it more challenging, I didn’t read the articles. That’s why I’ll be “guessing” the meaning of these headlines – so I may be wrong as to what these articles are really about. But that should show how great headlines are at playing with our imagination.
News Article – Example #1
The first one is promoting an article about some kind of a planned handout from the government of Switzerland. Interestingly, you can see the amount of money before you even open the article. This is done to make you wonder “Why would they be giving two and a half grand for free to those people? And is it for real?”
The question form of the headline adds a bit of uncertainty. Will Swiss citizens receive the money or not? Very encouraging and inviting.
News Article – Example #2
The next article is about a road accident somewhere in China. Doesn’t really sound interesting – over 1 billion people live in China, so there are hundreds of accidents every day. The way this headline presented the crash – a motorcyclist “cheats death” – changes the article completely. It’s no longer just an accident.
Let’s be honest – who wouldn’t like to cheat death? We all love to read stories with a little bit of drama and a happy ending.
News Article – Example #3
The next headline introduces one of my favorite types of articles – a list-type article. The idea behind lists is very simple – because you know how many ideas, photos or facts you’re about to read, the article becomes a lot more encouraging. Especially that thanks to list-style, it’s easy to skim. No surprise people love lists (and share them very often making them go viral).
In this headline, there is one other thing that’s drawing attention – from the very beginning the headline assumes that Europe will miss the UK and that they shouldn’t leave. Enticing and shareable.
News Article – Example #4
The below examples all come from BBC.com. All of them have cool headlines that grab the attention and attract clicks. The headline of the first article gives us an interesting fact and makes us think “Wow, I wonder what it is that would take my entire life to explore. Let’s find out. *Click* “
The headline in the second article is a bit more personal. It presents a story of somebody who is tied to a phone all day. In today’s world, it’s easy to identify with such person. In fact, people are highly likely to open an article which is about a “person just like them.” And, since most people are using their phones way too much, there is quite a big audience for that one.
Finally, the third article is about an unknown (at least it’s not specified in the headline) country which, according to the author of the article, is so great (or so bad) that you “can never quite leave it.” Who isn’t curious what country is that?.
Now Let’s Focus on Writing Your Converting Headlines
Around 80% of your site visitors read headlines. Unfortunately, only 20% of all visitors read anything else (on average). But, it’s possible to achieve better numbers than that.
The first thing you should remember is that people don’t really read your headline – they scan it. Most of them focus only on the first few and the last few words, completely omitting what’s in the middle, (unless it’s highlighted in some way).
Moreover, the less they have to read the higher the chance of grabbing their attention. That’s why a good headline should:
- Be short & concise
- Highlight the most relevant information
- Include numbers (especially effective if backed by a scientific fact and great for list-type articles)
- Consist of strong and interesting adjectives, mixed with negative ones
- Invite to click and read the rest of the article/sales letter
- Reveal “just enough” information about the product/article
- Match the content – even the most enticing headline won’t help your conversions if the content doesn’t match the promise. Readers know what the back button is. And they like to use it if someone insults their intelligence.
Of course, every headline is different. You should adjust your copy to the content, audience, and your goals (sales vs clicks vs sign-ups?)
A Headline Can Make or Break Your Article or Sales Copy
Headlines are present in all pieces of writing. Both a book title and its chapter names are all headlines. And they are trying to sell you something. Usually, it’s the idea behind them. The goal of every headline is to grab your attention, entice you to click the link, and get you interested in the content.
In fact, writing a good headline can make or break every sales funnel – even if the rest of the copy is mediocre but users click the headline and visit the site, they might still convert.
This can be found especially on news sites, on which a headline is one of the most important things as the goal is to get readers to visit the article page – and generate money from advertising. With a good headline, even poorly written articles can still make enough money from ads or sales to generate a good ROI.
All that makes a headline a very short and yet super important weapon of every marketer. It’s no surprise that the art of writing killer-headlines is (and always will be – even with all the formulas and cheatsheets available) one of the essential skills of every copywriter.