You want people to notice your business, right?
You’ve probably tried everything you can to turn the heads of your customers. You’ve set up a blog, signed up for Twitter, and created a business page on Facebook. The trouble is, you’re not the only one clamouring for an audience.
Everyone’s trying to get attention. Yet we live in a world of attention deficit. There’s so much information out there, we’ve all learned to filter what gets through. Unless you’re extra special, all your content marketing will get drowned out by the crowd.
I’d like to share a simple trick that professional writers use to overcome this problem. After all, writing is the art of getting and holding attention. And whether or not you’re a pro writer, it’s an art you can learn.
Are You Losing Customers Because of This Mistake?
Headlines are the best place to practice the art of getting attention with words.
Why headlines? Because if your headlines don’t draw your readers in, you’ve lost them before you started.
The ad writer David Ogilvy put it this way:
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.
In other words, if your headlines are underperforming, you’re losing customers, and you’re losing money.
Ogilvy was writing in the mid 20th century. His words are even more applicable to the digital world of the 21st century. There’s so much information online, you’ve got to go the extra mile to stand out.
Headlines aren’t just for blog posts, either. Knowing the art of headline writing will help you:
- Write tweets and Facebook posts that your fans and followers engage with. Because when you’ve got their attention, they’ll start talking to you.
- Get your emails opened. Did you know that 64% of people decide whether to open emails based on the subject line? Knowing how to write headlines improves your subject line writing skills.
So, what’s the secret to writing attention grabbing headlines? It’s actually easier than you think – and somewhat zen.
The Secret to Attention Grabbing Headlines
Here’s the secret to writing attention grabbing headlines: Start paying attention.
Told you it was zen, didn’t I?
When you find yourself reading an article or watching a video online, pause for a moment, and look at the headline. Something about that headline got your attention.
Take note of that headline. As you do this over a period of time, you’ll build up a swipe file of great headlines.
Then, the next time you’re writing a blog post, a tweet, or an email, you can turn to your swipe file for inspiration.
That’s not to say you should copy other people’s headlines (though it’s worth noting that most titles aren’t protected by copyright). Instead, use the headlines you’ve picked up for inspiration. The headlines you’ve collected are starting blocks for your own headlines and article ideas.
10 Classic Headline Formulas for Your Swipe File
To get your swipe file started, here are ten classic headline ideas you can use again and again.
The How To Headline. How-to headlines are immensely popular because they promise a solution to a problem the reader has. An example of a how-to headline is How to Land Your First Freelance Gig.
The Secret Headline. Headlines promising to reveal secrets arouse curiosity. An example of a secret headline is Here’s the real truth about how entrepreneurs get their first big break.
The Mistake Headline. The headline Do You Make These Mistakes In English? launched one of the best-selling language courses of the 20th century. None of us likes to make mistakes, so with this headline we read on to find out what we might be doing wrong.
The List Headline. For example: 7 Ways to Promote Your Business. Lists have become an internet staple because readers love them.
The Threat Headline. Threat headlines warn readers of an imminent danger. For example: Do this, and you could lose all your clients.
The Social Proof Headline. None of us likes to get left behind! Social proof headlines appeal to our desire to be part of the in-crowd. A social proof headline could be: Here’s why 3,702 businesses chose our services, and you should too.
The Everything You Need Headline. For example: The Ultimate Guide to Web Design. With this type of headline, you promise readers a complete overview of a topic.
The Short Cut Headline. Which of us wouldn’t like more time to do things we enjoy? That’s why headlines promising a simple solution are effective. For example: The Easy Way to Launch a Thriving Blog.
The Rockstar Headline. For this headline, you choose a celebrity, and incorporate them into your headline. An example of this headline is The Daffy Duck Marketing System.
The News Headline. Newspapers have grabbed attention for centuries. That’s because we all like to be kept in the loop about the latest happenings and trends. Here’s an example: Announcing: A Brand New Way to Discover Your Ideal Client.
One final note: your article, video or email must always deliver on what’s promised in the headline. Bait-and-switch tactics might get attention in the short term, but they will only damage your brand in the long run.
Over to You
What are some great headlines you’ve read recently? Take a moment to check your browsing history, and let us know in the comments.