In copywriting, the headline is one of the most crucial elements. If effective, it will get your reader’s attention and cause them to want to read on; obviously, if not effective and well written, you’ll lose them before you even get them. Similarly, holiday window displays exist solely to get shoppers’ attentions and make them want to go in the store. If a window display is boring and lifeless, shoppers will most likely walk right by without even a glance.
In order to be effective, headlines (and even holiday window displays) must do the following:
- Grab the attention of your target audience. It’s one thing for a headline to grab attention, but if your target audience wouldn’t find it interesting, you’re essentially barking up the wrong tree. Similar to how social media marketing needs to target the audience, you want your headlines to be relevant to your readers. If you’re content is about a sensitive subject (like understanding cancer), you wouldn’t want to write a funny headline. Your readers will become upset and lose trust in you once they realize what they’re reading about.
- Appeal to your audience’s needs. You have to know what your audience needs and then have to give them a reason to want to read on. By exposing their need in the headline, you’ll pique their interest and get them to want to read more, and in the text itself, you can tie their need to the benefits of your products or services. An effective way to do this in the headline is by asking a question, and then you give the answer in the body text.
There are many different ways to write headlines that get read:
- Use a scare tactic. While this can sometimes be effective, it’s important to use it sparingly. By playing off of readers’ fears and insecurities, you can get them to want to read more. If you’re selling mortgage loans, you can write a headline like, “How to Keep From Getting Foreclosed.” Because that’s a genuine fear for many homeowners (especially in today’s topsy turvy real estate market), chances are that many will read on.
- Inform them. People love to read top lists and how-to articles. For a site selling cloth diapers and organic bedding, you can write “Top Ten Ways to Become a Green Parent”, “How to Become a Green Parent”, or better yet, combine the two “How to Become a Green Parent – Ten Easy Ideas.” The only potential downside to this approach is that many writers are using this type of headline, and yours may get lost with all the others.
To get your readers to want to read on (and for businesses that want to get shoppers in their doors), it’s important that you get their attention at the earliest opportunity. For copywriters, that opportunity is with the headline. You’ll never get conversions if your copy doesn’t get read.
Make it interesting, make it useful, and make it stand apart from the rest.