Message & Media: Making Headlines. Literally.
Headlines are the one copy element almost every ad, email, brochure, blog post, whitepaper, landing page, self-mailer, postcard and Web page have in common. An irresistible headline is the lure that hooks your reader.
According to advertising great David Ogilvy, "On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy."
This means writing effective headlines is extremely important for copywriters and content developers, as well as their creative directors and approving managers. It's not a cut-and-paste job!
So, how can you craft headlines that hook more readers? Try these 19 quick tips.
1. Use numbers, especially odd numbers. Scan magazine covers at your grocery store checkout and you're guaranteed to find numerals starting many of the headlines. The more obscure the number, the better: "127 Secrets Your Financial Planner Won't Tell You" or "13 Foods That Are Killing You."
2. Ask a question. One of the most successful ads of my career, seen below, had the headline, "What the devil is this?"
The subhead copy—"Then Ed bit into one and the plot thickened"—added intrigue to the story that unfolded. The ad ran for nearly 20 years.
3. Use adjectives. Describe what the body copy offers with a promising adjective such as: essential, affordable, basic, free, one-of-a-kind, limited edition, exclusive or fun.
For example, "An Essential Guide for Anyone Who Writes Anything."
4. Make a strong promise. What homeowner doesn't want to know this kind of information: "How to Sell Your Own Home in Less Than 36 Hours"?
5. Five Ws and One H. Headlines that start with Who, What, When, Why, Where or How empower: "Why Frequent Flyers Won't Eat Airline Food ... Even Peanuts."