Headline Psychology – Top 10 Headlines
If you are interested in driving traffic to your website, or you are into list building or affiliate marketing, then you probably know the importance of a great headline. It’s often been said that the ability to write great headlines isthe most important skill in all of copywriting.
After all, unless you have a great headline your selling message won’t get read. This applies to solo ads, classified ads, sales letters, blog posts, social media marketing, basically anytime you communicate with the public. In the email marketing and solo advertising business we often talk about the “hierarchy” of a great email ad. That’s just a fancy way to say that any email ad, especially a solo ad, must have three key elements in order to be effective. And by effective, I mean profitable
1. A subject line (or headline) that causes the email to get opened
2. An offer the reader wants
3. A call to action that gets the reader to click NOW !!
If your ad has those three things you will likely do very well indeed. If you get one of them wrong you risk losing profits. But here’s the problem for most people … how do you write a highly effective headline or email subject line?
Most professional copywriters have a swipe file they use. When they see a great headline or subject line they copy it and use it for inspiration. Of course, we never want to use anyone’s copy word-for-word without express permission but we are free to draw inspiration from great marketing. And we should do so. After all, why reinvent the wheel?
A second trick of the trade is having a Template to follow. By template I mean a simple “fill in the blanks” formula that empowers you to crank out winning headlines and subject lines all day long. So if you’ve ever wanted to write great headlines and subject lines at will, or if you’ve ever been stuck and not known how to get started, the templates below will help you
NOTE: In the examples and information below I’m going to refer to these templates in email marketing terms. The truth is a great headline IS a great email subject line and IS a great article title and IS a great blog post title and IS a great Facebook Post….. and so on. It all has the same purpose, to get people to read more and take action.
Master these templates and you will never again be stuck for inspiration. Heck, you might even find a new career as a headline writer!
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.1
“For _______, This Works Like Crazy”
This is a great results-driven subject line that is certain to get people to open up your email and take a closer look. The idea here is to use the classic combination of something the reader wants with a way to get it. By including “this works like crazy” you are saying “here’s how to get what you want”. All you need to do now is fill in the blanks and include what they want.
Your job is to provide the “what they want” part in the provided blank.
• For losing weight FAST, this works like crazy…
• For longer tee shots, this works like crazy…
• For making money fast, this works like crazy…
• For saving a marriage, this works like crazy…
• For avoiding bankruptcy, this works like crazy…
Obviously, you want what you are offering to be something that is highly sought after or highly interesting to the reader, and is directly related to what you are going to share in the email itself. This subject line is great for just about any kind of mailing, whether it is a content mailing or a promotional mailing. People open it for one reason and one reason only: it promises to reveal something that produces a result they want to achieve.
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.2
“Why Your ________ Won’t _______”
One of the basic human motivations for response is driven by a fear of failure. This subject line is the exact opposite of the first one we looked at which hinted at producing results – this one hints at NOT producing results. The idea is to talk about what they want and then an appropriate negative statement at the end after the word “won’t”.
• Why your diet won’t work
• Why your business won’t succeed
• Why your list won’t make you money
• Why your vacation won’t be fun
• Why your credit can’t be restored
Who could resist opening up to see WHY? Not many of us, I can tell you that.
HINT: Substituting the word “can’t” for “won’t” works very well. Feel free to experiment with other synonyms too.
If your result is something that we WANT to achieve, then certainly we’d want to read your email to find out what might prevent us from achieving the result. It’s a great time to reveal a mistake or a problem or a hindrance … and then offer your product or service as a solution, which will produce profit for you.
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.3
“The biggest mistake ______________ make”
Once again we are tapping into the fear of failure, a powerful motivator. This subject line that focuses on the negative or adverse result – things your subscriber wants to avoid if he is going to achieve the desirable results he is after. The difference with this subject line and others that offer a sort of warning or caution is the emphasis here is on the word “biggest”. This isn’t just a mistake, it’s the BIGGEST mistake. It’s the number one, most common error that folks make regarding a particular topic and curiosity alone will get people to open up JUST TO SEE WHAT IT IS.
Yes, they’ll certainly be concerned about whether or not they are making this particular mistake, but even more than that, they’ll want to know WHAT this particular mistake is.
What IS the “biggest” mistake?
• The biggest mistake husbands make
• The biggest mistake first-time parents make
• The biggest mistake dieters make
• The biggest mistake car buyers make
• The biggest mistake dog owners make
HINT: Adding the words “and how to avoid it” or “how you can avoid it” works very well with these headlines.
Obviously, the biggest mistake would be a matter of your opinion, so it’s open to your own objective perspective, which makes this one an easy subject line to work into your mix. And, it definitely is effective.
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.4
“The Fastest Way To ____________”
Now it’s time to talk about the other super-motivator, promise of gain. Here we focus on being “fast”. We all want results – and, let’s face it – we all want them as quickly as possible. We live in a fast food world that promises instant results and that’s what we want. So, the key here is that word “fastest”. This isn’t just a way to success with a particular topic; it’s the FASTEST way to success with a particular topic. Additionally, I’ve found that if you can plug in SPECIFIC results it makes this one so much more effective.
• The fastest way to make $500 online
• The fastest way to lose 5 pounds
• The fastest way to play guitar chords
• The fastest way to speed read 75 pages
• The fastest way to cut insurance costs by 25%
Notice in my examples that I didn’t make outlandish claims, I made reasonable claims. It wasn’t the “fastest way to make a million dollars online,” but rather “the fastest way to make $500 online”. Not “100 pounds”, but “5 pounds”. Not “play guitar”, but “play guitar chords”.
There are two reasons for this:
(1) If a person believes they can actually do what you mention in the subject line, they are more likely to open up and take a look.
(2) Readers will subconsciously think they can INCREASE the results by DUPLICATING what you share inside.
In other words, if you mention the “fastest way to lose 5 pounds” I automatically think, “If he lost 5 I’ll bet I can lose 10! ”. It’s human nature to think you can do better than the next person. That may or may not be the case, but that’s what many people think, and it compels them to take a look because your claim is BELIEVABLE and ACHIEVABLE.
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.5
“Get Your ________ Questions Answered”
This is a great information gathering subject line to use when you want to survey any mailing list, be it your own or if you buy solo ad space. Surveying and taking polls works, and works well, and this approach helps it work even better. The more you know about people who might become customers – what they WANT to know from you, what they are most likely to buy – the easier it is to provide them with quality content they can use and the easier it is to make offers that they will say “Yes” to. So, this is a great subject line to gather information with, by allowing your subscribers to submit their most wanted question to you.
• Get your blogging questions answered
• Get your weight lifting questions answered
• Get your insomnia questions answered
• Get your digital photography questions answered
• Get your pet training questions answered
HINT: You can change this headline to read “answers to your _____ questions” and it will work just as well.
LIST BUILDING TIP: You can promise to answer the top 5 for free in a report or training call or give a free copy of your completed product to all those who submit a question (and join YOUR list) or whatever you choose as far as the offer inside.
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.6
“Something Every _____ Needs To Know”
Once again we have the “curiosity” factor in play. What is it that I need to know? The word “need” is very powerful and compelling. It gives the impression that something is a necessity, that it is required. Testing has shown that putting a special emphasis on “first-timers”, “beginners” or “newbies” will increase the results of this headline or subject line. Because they are inexperienced, they are more likely to not only recognize they do have needs because of their lack of knowledge, but also will be eager to learn those things that you feel are necessary or required for success.
• Something every new mother needs to know
• Something every college freshman needs to know
• Something every first-time car buyer needs to know
• Something new affiliate marketers need to know
• Something every bride-to-be needs to know
Why do you think the Dummies® books have sold so successfully?
Newcomers to the subject want to know what they need to know….and that’s why they’ll open this email up and take a look inside.
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.7
“Here’s A Shortcut For __________”
When I say “shortcut” what comes to your mind? Think about it for just a second. You likely envision something that is “faster”, something that is “easier”, something that gives an “advantage”, something that “reduces expenses or effort” – all of which are highly desirable. We all want to take the shortcuts in life – the easiest, fastest, most advantageous path to our destination. Which explains why this subject line continues to be among my most opened in my email marketing. It doesn’t matter if it’s rose gardening or entertaining inlaws or boosting metabolism or racing radio-controlled cars, we all want a shortcut.
• Here’s a shortcut for getting a great job
• Here’s a shortcut for creating an ebook
• Here’s a shortcut for boosting your memory
• Here’s a shortcut for mastering Forex
• Here’s a shortcut for learning to play piano
Tip: Let me also give you just a quick tip here for really producing profit with this particular subject line. When you can tie in some kind of product, software or service that fully or semi-automates the shortcut, then you’ve got a very good chance of getting the sale.
Just a quick, very generic example: You might share that a shortcut to success with customer support is to have a text file with your most asked questions and responses to those questions so when a new customer asks a question all you have to do is copy and paste your response instead of retyping out a response. That’s a shortcut.
Now, you could also PROMOTE an autoresponder service that would actually automate the process of getting those answers to the customer, you could promote a package of template responses to the most asked questions or promote a customer-service help desk software or even a third-party company that provides customer service.
The point is this: If you can provide readers with a quality shortcut, but then also promote a product, software program or service that automates that shortcut, you’re much more likely to get a sale.
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.8
“Here Is Your ________ Checklist”
One of the things that most human beings want – at least the human beings that I know – is a set of instructions that we can follow to make sure we do things correctly. That’s why offering a free checklist as your subject line is yet another great way to increase your open rate and get subscribers delving deeper into the mailings you send out.
• Here is your interview checklist
• Here is your “Baby’s First Year” checklist
• Here is your wedding checklist
• Here is your headline writing checklist
• Here is your travel checklist
I personally have seen greater results by ENTITLING the checklist. Not just “Here is your interview checklist” but “Here is your ‘Acing Any Interview’ checklist”. Not just “Here’s your wedding checklist” but “Here is your ‘The Perfect Wedding’ checklist”. A good name adds more desirability to the checklist.
Obviously, in your email you’ll want to provide the checklist. And your checklist is a PERFECT spot to make recommendations. Refer readers to your product or affiliate products for more information on every entry in the checklist.
A classic example is the “Setting Up An Internet Business” checklist where some of the steps would include “buying a domain name”, “finding a web host”, “creating a blog” etc. For most of those steps, you could provide a brief overview of them and then point them to resources to do the very things you instruct them to do … most of which make you money.
If there is one email subject line and corresponding email message that EVERY LIST OWNER should have in their sequences somewhere, this is it. It’s the surest way of making money with a list that I know of. Provide a checklist with useful steps and useful overviews and then point them to profit-generating resources.
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.9
“A Great _______ Resource I Just Found”
This is a great subject line to use in promoting an affiliate link, especially if there is some kind of free information or discount involved at the affiliate site.
SUPER IMPORTANT: If the product or program you are promoting in your affiliate marketing offers free information you will do better by promoting the free information than by promoting the product or program directly.
• A great discount travel resource I just found
• A great free traffic resource I just found
• A great genealogy resource I just found
• A great anti-aging resource I just found
• A great home improvement resource I just found There is an element of newness and freshness here with the “I just found” reference at the end of the subject line, which brings a sense of urgency – we desire to be the first to know, the first to use. Again, just another solid way to get folks to open your emails.
HEADLINE TEMPLATE No.10
“This Ruins Most ____________”
This subject line is one of the strongest in the group. It works again with the fear of loss super-motivator. It goes beyond sharing a mistake or even the biggest mistake to the point of revealing something that can have a devastating effect on the reader if they fall victim to it. Again, we’re talking about both awareness of a potentially destructive pitfall, with a provided solution, only this time the language is stronger in that it could “ruin” the results for the person on the other end of the line.
HINT: Don’t overuse this one and don’t use it for things that readers might consider “minor”. There are products we promote that can have a dramatic impact on a person’s life – this type of headline or subject line is best used for those types of products in my view.
• This ruins most dieters
• This ruins most newlyweds
• This ruins most marketing plans
• This ruins most affiliates
• This ruins most childhood dreams
In this email, you’d want to reveal the most disastrous, destructive stumbling block that the subscriber might face, along with a solution for avoiding it.
HINT: Provide the solution in your content in a brief, overview form so you do actually give them useful information, and then lead the subscriber to an offer to thoroughly explain the solution which allows you to make a sale.
There you have it – 10 ways to write headlines or subject lines that practically demand attention and create real results.
Now here’s your action step – take the headlines you are using now and compare them with these. Can you modify what you are using now to fit these Templates ?
If not, take the blueprints above and apply them to every product you promote online. Then begin testing these headlines in the ads you place, articles you write and more.
These Templates have been proven to work – I hope you enjoyed them and profit from them as I have.
To your Success!
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