What does writing copy have in common with a playground? Legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman, dubbed the "Mail Order Maverick" by The New York Times, equated the two: "Your readers should be so compelled to read your copy that they cannot stop reading until they read all of it, as if sliding down a slippery slide."
In other words, each word of your copy has one goal: Make the reader move on to the next.
The question is: How do you get your readers up the ladder and onto the slide in the first place?
A good headline.
A good headline compels prospective readers to continue. It grabs their attention, hooks them, piques their interest and leaves them no choice but to continue reading. Here are a few ways to create an effective headline.
1. Curiosity Killed the Cat … But Converted the Headline
Tantalize readers with a question they'll only find the answer to in the copy, such as, "Are You Making These Common Mistakes at Your Job Interview?" Who can resist a quick peek at the inevitable "Do You Do Any Of These 10 Embarrassing Things?" article that pops up on your Yahoo homepage? It's crucial that the headlines don't just present a question, but present a question that the readers can empathize with.
Curiosity headlines don't necessarily have to be in the form of a question either—"The Food That's Making People in Santa Barbara Sick" doesn't explicitly ask a question; however, it elicits one from the readers, compelling them to continue reading: What food is making people sick?
Just make sure you don't ask a question that readers can answer "no" to—that's the quickest way to give somebody a reason not to continue reading. "Embarrassing Things You're Doing: Do You Wear Bell Bottoms?" With that headline, you've just lost the 99 percent of your potential readers who already have the good sense not to wear bell bottoms.