It doesn’t matter how good your product, service, or marketing message is if it, and you, never get noticed.
Writing better, attention-grabbing headlines is often the proverbial ace in the hole when it comes to making sure your e-mails get opened, your social media posts get clicks, and your advertisements get results.
Of course, you need to make sure the rest of your marketing messages are emotionally engaging and compelling.
But, whether your running an e-mail marketing campaign, writing guest blog posts or articles for your own website, or are running ads using Google AdWords or on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you typically only have 2-3 seconds to grab your prospective client’s attention and make them want to read, watch, or learn more.
Now, we’ve already published an article devoted to writing better headlines, “How to Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines,” so why are we taking another stab at the same topic?
Well, for one thing, because writing effective headlines really is that important to your overall marketing success. In fact, headlines are so important that, as crazy as it may sound, entire books have been written just on the subject of headlines.
Secondly, while the previous article broke down the different types of headlines you can and should use and provided examples of each, it didn’t look at examples of effective headlines in action or make your life easier by offering a complete list of headlines you can start using today…
Are you ready? Because now, we’re going to remedy both of those omissions and give you an entire list of headlines you can use, today!
Types of Headlines
While I could easily go on and on about the importance of writing great headlines and the different techniques to do so, the most important aspect of writing powerful headlines is understanding why people take action. Why they say, “Yes!”
And, if you own a business – and you’re interested in marketing that business successfully – then you need to get people to say “Yes!” to whatever it is you’re offering.
So, let’s cut to the chase…
While the eight types of headlines we discussed previously are completely valid, we can distill things even further by lumping all great headlines into one of three categories:
Now, in the “Your Therapy Marketing Plan, Part 2: Creating Effective Marketing Messages” training, we discussed how each of these three broad categories (desire, logic, and fear) are the main motivations for most of the actions we take.
So, let’s take a look at each one of these in turn and then you can download the headline swipe file, which is filled with proven headline templates that will get you more views, clicks, and results from all aspects of your marketing campaigns.
Before We Begin…
I’m not the biggest fan of Twitter when it comes to its uses as a marketing platform. However, all of the examples we’ll go through below involve Twitter for two reasons:
- Like Facebook and other social media platforms, Twitter status updates have incredibly short lifespans. If your Twitter posts don’t trigger immediate clicks, they’re usually lost forever.
- Twitter’s 140-character limit puts anyone that understands the fundamentals of good headline writing at an advantage. And mastering headline writing using Twitter is a great way to hone your skills.
Of course, mastering the fundamentals of writing effective headlines will improve much more than just your results on social media sites like Twitter. If you can write posts for Twitter that cover the four U’s formula for writing compelling headlines – that is, your headlines should be Urgent, Unique, Useful, and Ultra-specific – then you can do so for any marketing medium.
Consider this Tweet from Joe Bavonese…
Eight words and a link. Joe knows that this headline will get clicks to his landing page. It offers to make sure you’re aware of the most common AdWords mistakes therapists make with an implied promise of how to avoid them. It’s a good headline.
Okay, let’s dive in…
The easiest way to create a headline is to simply state a benefit and make a promise that, if the person takes action, they will gain this benefit.
- “If You Can Learn to Listen, You Can Create a Loving, Lasting Relationship”
- “Who Doesn’t Want Their Children to Be Happy?”
- “10 Simple Steps to Overcome Anxiety and Achieve Professional Success”
This Tweet from Casey Truffo makes a simple promise that you’ll learn how to create a more fulfilling practice by investing just 30 minutes per month.
People are usually as motivated – if not more motivated – to take action out of a desire to avoid pain or because they fear missing out on something as they are to take action simply in order to gain some sort of benefit.
Accordingly, well-crafted headlines that hinge on the promise of being able to avoid pain or protect oneself from a threat can be highly effective. Consider:
- “Half of All Marriages End in Divorce… Here’s How to Make Sure Yours Isn’t One of Them”
- “Warning: Don’t Take Another Anti-Depressant Until you Read This”
- “What Your Health Insurance Company Isn’t Telling You”
Take a look at this tweet from Brian Clark. Anyone optimizing their websites for better search engine rankings – especially those in the SEO industry – will want to know how to stay in Google’s good graces.
Logic/Social Proof Headlines
While most people make decisions based on fear or desire, some make decisions for more logical reasons. And even those who make decisions based on fear or desire often rely on logical arguments to support or rationalize those decisions.
Now, there are more than a few ways you can support your offers using logical arguments – such as your expertise in your field or by offering some sort of guarantee. However, when it comes to writing headlines, one type of “logical” proof trumps all others… Social proof.
After all, we’re social creatures. We often make choices based on the choices of others. Because, hey, if it worked for them, it will probably work for me!
For this reason, smart marketing almost always incorporates social proof…
And, when it comes to using social proof, the more people making the same choice and the more influential those people are, the more influential and effective the proof becomes.
Consider these headlines:
- “Why 1000’s of Therapists Can’t Be Wrong”
- “What Dr. Phil Has to Say about Marriage Counseling”
- “The New Mind-Body Healing Technique Everyone is Talking About”
The first and third headlines above are common types of social proof headlines, while the second one is what is commonly known as a “piggyback” headline, because the headline piggybacks off the popularity of Dr. Phil.
For an example of a great social proof headline, consider this Tweet from the Gottman Institute…
The social proof in this Tweet is bolstered by the precise figure used. 1,748,687 is a much more specific and therefore credible figure than saying “over a million” or “almost two million.” So, when you have actual numbers, or can get them, use them!
Three Simple Ways to Improve Your Headlines
Okay, we’ve covered the three main categories. And just by using these principles alone, you’ll see results. However, we’re not done yet!
Here are three more ways you can improve the effectiveness of your headlines…
1. Add the Words “How To”
I often see headlines that are simple statements. Fortunately, while it’s a common mistake, it’s one that’s easy to correct.
Remember that a good headline contains a promise that, if you click or keep reading, the promise will be fulfilled.
In many cases, simply adding the words “how to” is all that’s needed to turn a simple statement and a boring headline into a promise.
For example, here is a great how-to Tweet from Dr. Jennifer Howard…
Remove the “How to” from the Tweet and it reads:
Know if You Are Settling For a Mediocre Life! [LINK]
This headline doesn’t really make a promise. It makes a statement. Add the words “How to” and you’ve got a promise, and a good headline.
2. Communicate Time
One way to improve the effectiveness of your headlines is to incorporate some aspect of time. Why? Because we’re all strapped for time and people want to know what they’re getting into before they click your link, open your e-mail, and so on. They also want to know whether or not what you’re offering is something they can put off for later.
Take a look at this Tweet from The Couples Institute…
Based on this headline, I’m pretty sure this will be a quick read and, if I don’t take action today, it will be too late.
Now, consider how the following headline conveys time…
20 Huge Trends That Will Affect the Future of Mental Health
If I saw this headline, I’d bet it wouldn’t be a quick read. And, if I’m pressed for time, I’d be less than likely to click the link. On the other hand, if I’m looking for something substantive on the subject, I’ll be more than happy to make a pot of tea or coffee, click the link, and settle in…
3. Add Fascination
Adding simple elements of surprise and intrigue to your headlines can lead to huge increases in results.
The key is to tie a fear or desire to something that is seemingly unrelated. You still need to make a promise, but you’re also teasing the reader’s curiosity.
Here’s a good example from DeeAnna Nagel…
DeeAnna makes a pretty traditional promise: making addressing mental health issues easier. But the addition of “defining ‘trolling’ accurately” adds a layer of fascination that makes one want to find out what this is really all about.
KISSMetrics applies the same fascination formula to this Tweet by using MacGyver…
Your Headline Swipe File
Okay, it’s time to start creating your own headlines.
As I said at the outset, we’re going to make writing headlines as easy as possible by giving you an entire list of headlines that you can modify and use as you see fit, today!
Now, before you download the file and get started, there are a couple of ways you can use the headlines in the swipe file…
One way is to simply copy and paste the headlines verbatim and fill in the blanks to match your circumstances.
This is a good way to get started. But I recommend taking things a step further by printing out the list and carefully studying each headline to understand why each one works.
When you do this, you’ll begin to truly understand and integrate the fundamentals of writing great headlines and you’ll find yourself needing the swipe file less and less.
I also recommend copying and pasting any good headlines you come across into your swipe file. This way, you’ll never be short on ideas and inspiration when you need to write a marketing e-mail, social media post, or the headline for a blog post, article, or ad.
Become a student of great headlines and all aspects of your marketing will improve!
Does this swipe file help? How will you use it? Have you seen any great social media posts or headlines? If so, share them below… And, as always, let us know your thoughts and questions!