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?
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:
- 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
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:
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 Ogilvy would say, don’t be a copycat! For instance, if your audience has the feeling that they have read your headline 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. Indeed, this characteristic follows the rule where the more specific you are, the better copy you write. Also, the specificity will 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.
Ready to write your next sales copy? Contact me today!
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.
Read more about this topic:
Confessions of an Advertising Man
By David Ogilvy
Comments on “3 Steps to Write a Killer Headline”
Love how you mention the importance of a great headline. A headline can be easily overlooked and not get high amounts of effort put into it, but this article explains the importance which is great! Amazing that you go into detail with each and every step of writing.
Very clear and simplified article. It makes such hard techniques seem so simple. Very good job.
Excellent post: thank you for sharing “3 Steps to Write a Killer Headline” I enjoyed reading it and find it very helpful. Headlines are critical if we want our readers to read what we send them; time is precious, and nobody wants to waste it if it’s not interesting. Those are great steps, and I 100% agree with you. Have a great day. Regards. Vlad
This is an excellent guide to copywriting. Spot on.
You need to focus on your audience, and their needs and have an appropriate and clever title that grabs and then persuades them to buy what you sell.
A title is what makes or breaks. I appreciate your recommending these books that help create an appetizing title. It will bait to attract buyers.
I have a website only to help people. I have decided not to sell any product but write informational posts.
If I decide otherwise, I may reach out to you.
However, I will take this message of the 4U formula means that a powerful and ideal headline must have four main characteristics:
Thanks! And if you need my services I’ll be happy to help
Hi…thank you for helping me understand the importance of a strong and powerful, eye-catching headline. My journalism teacher recently taught us that a headline needs to be useful and provide obvious value to your audience – just as you said.
Also, I too only read the headline – just what your article states, but if it catches my attention, then I read on. Just like I did with your article.
Really enjoyed this article. So well written anyone would think you know what you are doing! 🙂 It was interesting to gain your perspective on how to achieve a successful and compelling headline and of course what you say is absolutely right. You need to have that initial pull that attracts people to your work in the first place otherwise you will just get lost in the vastness of the online world. Thank you
You’re welcome Caroline!
Excellent headline for a killer copywriter site. Really taken in with the headline a d the read was easy and flowed flawlessly. In my opinion the 3 steps were expertly explained and gives the reader the concept of the simplicity of copywriting and how anyone can be an expert by following the steps which captures the true essence of the blog post. Given me an insight into copywriting and might just give it a try. Thank you for your effort and the post. Worth the read.
The only thing that maybe misunderstood is ; The article Why I chose Beauty Copywriting called; Was not completed. You show that you are a great writing and know how to keep a person interested. Hopefully ,one day I will be able to ask for you to assist me . The set-up was good. And very easy to follow ,I learn a lot from it.
Than you April! I let the blank in the blog name because I haven’t posted anything in my new blog yet. But when it’s done, I’ll come back to give the name of the website. Thank you for reminding me!
Hey thanks for this great post!
I’m not that good at writing catchy titles which is quite evident from the amount of visitors on my site so reading this has definitely given me an idea of where I could be going wrong!
Writing a good headline is essential, it’s the first impression that stays the longest or in this case attracts clients, whether the inside product is good or not.
You are so right on the button here. If you don’t have a great headline, you won’t attract any readers to your article. So in actual fact the headline could be the most important part of the article.
I often open exciting headlines, and discover that the article doesn’t deliver what it promises in the headline. The author has gotten my attention in the headline, but he also needs to deliver on his promises.
You could say that the headline is like the first impression that a reader gets before he discovers the rest of you. Thank you for all the great tips you have provided in this regard.
First of all, I love unique names.
Thank you for sharing your website. I have learned quite a bit about copywriting that I never knew about. However, I was considering taking a course, but that never panned out. It is a fascinating field. Looks like you worked very hard on your site, and you bring to us a very well-designed project.
Right from the first page, every page is full of everything I need to know about your profession. All of you, home page, headers, headings, subheadings, layout, portfolio was spot on and very impressive. I, particularly like your color scheme.
I’m wondering how long it took you to get to this level as a copywriter.
And how did you learn to master the English language so proficiently.
I am blown away.
Thank you for your compliments!
The Headline of your article “3 Steps To Write A Killer Headline” had me intrigued right away and I was happy to keep reading. Sometimes I think we spend too much time on SEO – identifying the right long-tail keyword – that we forget about its construction in a headline. Your steps provide a thoughtful path forward to making sure headlines are eye-catching. Thank you. Jenni.
You’re welcome Jenni
The title of the post or article is very important. Thank you for the fantastic. tips. I especially like the part of the post about the 4 rules to apply. Attracting the right people to your content is a very serious business. Your experience speaks volumes about how well you do it. I would I also added that, in addition to the title, the content should be of high quality and understandable for your potential audience, as well as the products offered.
You’re right- the content must match the promise of the headline
The first thing that catch my attention while reading is the headline. The 3 characteristics that you covered in your article explains how we should communicate with targeted readers. The simplicity of your words and notion was so clear and direct to the point. The Headline is the first impression your reader looking for.
In my opinion you, you were succeeded in keeping me reading to the end without noticing that you are selling me something. To be Talented writer is a gift you were born with, and I was thankful for what you wrote and share with us.
This definitely made me stop and think about all the posts I’ve made for my site. Thru your description I gained a better understanding of how to get more traffic to my blog and hopefully be able to help people more. Thank you for being simple in your description and providing examples of people.
You’re welcome Spencer!
Wow, that line by David Ogilvy really hit home for me. I now understand the importance of a headline that should pre-sell. I have bookmarked your post. I know that this is definitely going to come in handy. Also definitely going to learn more about those two copywriting gurus you mentioned.
Thanks a million for the awesome tips.
You’re welcome Roopesh!
Thank you for sharing 3 Steps to Write a Killer Headline!
This is very useful especially for brand new bloggers and people who do SEO.
The headline is like your hook! IT’s the same as a thumbnail on a youtube video!
Knowing your audience is key! Understanding who you are writing to is huge because why would they even read your blog!
I think if you can focus on things that make you stand out will help you.
Thank you so much for this awesome post on making a good headline. To be honest, I knew the first two methods you explained but I had never heard of the 4U method! I kind of already used it without knowing it’s name, but the ultra-specific is one of the things I did not realize I should be doing in the headline. This actually helps me a lot because my headline are typically pretty general in nature to try and capture more people’s attention.
Thanks for your comment !