How To Write Headlines That Engage Readers and Customers
It’s widely known that sales copywriters use headlines to drive up to as much as 70% of their prospective clients deeper into the meat of a sales letter. But powerful headlines are becoming mission critical elements in the following commonplace web applications:
- Informational webcopy
- Page title tag
- Email subject line
- Landing page headline
- Blog post headline
Some of the most effective headlines working today are built from timeworn headline patterns. They are modeled on successful headlines from the near or distant past. A key part of your swipe file will be headlines, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Successful headline recipes are abundantly available from the following sources on the web:
- Retail books on headlines and sales copy skills
- Copywriters’ ebooks and tip sheets
- Copywriting seminars and courses usually include material on crafting “winning” headlines
- Swipe files.
Some of the most successful copywriters with a strong reputation for winning headlines include the celebrity list of John Carlton, Gary Halbert, Eugene Schwartz, John Caples, Gary Bencivenga, Clayton Makepeace, John Bly, Dan Kennedy, and Bruce Barton.
The Most Famous Headline of Them All
John Caples made famous this headline, widely swiped for all kinds of applications:
“They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano, But When I Began to Play…!”
Of course the ad is selling a home study course for people who want to learn how to play the piano. But, what makes this now legendary headline SO effective?
Caples purposely appeals to the reader’s self-interest and strikes right at the emotional heart of his prospect. But he could have done that with “Play the Piano Like Beethoven in 48-hours…” Instead, he chose this much more effective strategy: drawing the reader into the middle of a story that was already in progress. Writers call this “in medias res”—in mid-action or mid-story.
You will notice how often Caples’ headline is swiped to varying degrees of effectiveness.
Common Headline Formulas
- How to…
- New Discovery
- Never [do this] again…
- Five Common Mistakes in [this thing] and How to Avoid Them Forever
- Do you make these mistakes in [this]?