Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Does your headline on your ads, emails, blog posts and articles have an effect on your success? You bet.
If you’re going to make a single change to boost your response rate the most, focus on your headline (you do have one, don’t you?).
Why? Because five times as many people read your headline than your copy. Quite simply, a headline is…an ad for your ad. People won’t stop their busy lives to read your copy unless you give them a good reason to do so. So a good headline promises some news and a benefit.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “What’s this about news, you say?”
Think about the last time you browsed through your local newspaper. You checked out the articles, one by one, and occasionally an ad may have caught your eye. Which ads were the ones most likely to catch your eye?
The ones that looked like an article, of course.
The ones with the headline that promised news.
The ones with fonts and type that closely resembled the fonts and type used in articles.
The ones that were placed where articles were placed (as opposed to being placed on a full page of ads, for example).
And the ones with the most compelling headlines that convinced you it’s worth a few minutes to read the copy.
The headline is that powerful and that important.
I’ve seen many ads over the years that didn’t even have a headline. And that’s just silly. It’s the equivalent of flushing good money spent on advertising right down the toilet.
Why? Because your response can increase dramatically by not only adding a headline, but by making that headline almost impossible to resist for your target market.
And those last three words are important. Your target market.
For example, take a look at the following headline:
Announcing…New High-Tech Gloves Protect Wearer Against Hazardous Waste
News, and a benefit.
Will that headline appeal to everyone?
No, and you don’t care about everyone.
But for someone who handles hazardous waste, they would sure appreciate knowing about this little gem.
That’s your target market, and it’s your job to get them to read your ad. Your headline is the way you do that.
Ok, now where do you find great headlines?
You look at other successful ads (especially direct response) that have stood the test of time. You look for ads that run regularly in magazines and other publications. How do you know they’re good? Because if they didn’t do their job, the advertiser wouldn’t keep running them again and again.
You get on the mailing lists of the big direct response companies like Agora and Boardroom and save their direct mail packages.
You read the National Enquirer.
Huh? You heard that correctly.
The National Enquirer has some of the best headlines in the business.
Pick up a recent issue and you’ll see what I mean. Ok, now how could you adapt some of those headlines to your own product or service?
Your headline should create a sense of urgency. It should be as specific as possible (i.e. say $1,007,274.23 instead of “a million dollars”).
The headline appearance is also very important. Make sure the type used is bold and large, and different from the type used in the copy. Generally, longer headlines tend to out pull shorter ones, even when targeting more “conservative” prospects.
Some other sites online where you can get great headlines (from master copywriter John Carlton, no less) are:
On each page, click on the individual products in order to view the ads and headlines.
It should go without saying that when you use other successful headlines, you adapt them to your own product or service. Never copy a headline (or any other written copyrighted piece of work for that matter) word for word. Copywriters and ad agencies are notoriously famous for suing for plagiarism. And rightfully so.
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