3 Steps To Write a Killer Headline


Imagine that you spent an awful amount of time to write a sales copy that nobody wants to read. Will it be a mere coincidence?

Probably not.

Actually, you’re likely to have written an unattractive headline which pushed your potential clients away. Consequently, your expected sales goals will also suffer.

But why is the headline so important for your copy?

In its book entitled Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy, one of the greatest copywriters of the 20th century, is famous for the following quote:

If you haven’t done some selling in your headline, you have wasted 80 per cent of your client’s money

Can you imagine yourself losing 80% of your money just because of an inappropriate headline?

Personally, I don’t.

As 8 out of 10 people will only read the headline of your copy, it is in your best interest to write the best headline that will attract your prospects and keep them reading your content.

That’s why this article will focus on the main components you need to write a killer headline. These ingredients are:

  • know your audience
  • provoke the right emotion
  • make the most of the “4U” formula

Step #1: Know your audience


You might say that knowing your audience is marketing 101.

And you’ll be right.

However, knowing who you target will help you to know the perspective you need to adopt for your headline. And it will also help you to use the right emotion in your headline. But we will see this aspect later.

For this, you will have to create a buyer persona which will reflect your ideal customer. This will include the following elements:

  • age
  • gender
  • occupation
  • income
  • hobbies and interests
  • his core personality type

Once you have these elements, you will be able to know what type of emotion you will use to grasp your target’s attention.

Step #2: Provoke the right emotion within your audience


Once you know your audience, you must decide what kind of emotion you want to trigger to provoke your target to buy your products or services.

When you use emotion, you must remember that it is one of the most powerful tool that connect human beings to each other, whether they are positive or negative.

Indeed, Michael Masterson, another copywriting master, said that people buy things for emotional reasons but they try to convince themselves they did for rational reasons to justify their purchase.

The emotions can be varied and include positive emotions, as well as the negative ones.

Examples of positive emotions include altruism, confidence, and wit.

Examples of negative emotions include fear, desperation, and stupidity.

Once you have determined the emotion you want to trigger in your audience, infuse it in your headline. Indeed, if you choose the right emotion to target the right people, you can be assured that your audience will read your sales copy.

Step #3: Make the most of the 4U formula in your headline

copywriting headline

The 4U formula was created by Michael Masterson for email headlines. However, this works for any type of copy: emails, sales letters, newsletters, free reports, and ebooks. You can even use it on blog articles!

Well, this formula has worked wonders with several copywriters, as they could help their clients to grasp their audience’s attention with it.

The 4U formula means that a powerful and ideal headline must have four main characteristics:

  • Urgent
  • Unique
  • Useful
  • Ultra-Specific

Let’s review these characteristics together, shall we?


An urgent headline must push your audience to open your sales copy and to discover its content. However, you can’t use urgency all the time without appearing too salesy. That’s why it can be wiser to exclude this characteristic when dealing with some specific sectors (e.g. luxury).


Like David Oglivy would say, don’t be a copycat! If your audience has the feeling that they have read your ┬áheadline somewhere else, they will quickly throw your copy away. And that’s not what you want.

Instead, be original with your headline, whether in your writing style, the benefit you want to sell, the message you want to convey, and even the references you are using. Your future clients will thank you.


Your headline must be useful and provide obvious value to your audience. Depending on the nature of your copy, your headline must help to solve a problem or offer some kind of benefit. Granted, your headline must never be dull!


Finally, your headline must be tailored to the potential needs of your audience – hence the step #1 of the knowledge of your audience. This characteristic follows the rule where the more specific you are, the better copy you write. The specificity will also help you to write compelling headlines which will entice your audience to keep scrolling across your copy.

Furthermore, you should keep in mind that applying this formula is not always possible in some cases. However, the closer you are from this formula, the better headline you will write.

Contact ECA Copywriting today to write your sales copy!

Do you need compelling copy that will help you see your products and reach your goals? In that case, I am exactly the person you need. From your headline to your copy content, I will use my persuasive skills to serve all your projects. If you are interested, feel free to contact me.

To go further on this topic:

Confessions of An Advertising Man

By David Oglivy and Sir Alan Parker

Read also:

The 4P Approach To Write Compelling Copy




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