Effective copywriting headlines can massively influence the conversion rate of a sales letter or website.
Writing headline copy is a task which receives extra special attention from professional copywriters and business owners - after all, if your headline is no good, why should anyone read the rest of your copy?
The following headline copywriting techniques will help you write headlines that are effective in generating a positive reader response.
Emotions are what make people buy - logical reasons are only ever a justification. Creating an emotional reaction in your reader is the key to all good copywriting.
The task may seem particularly challenging when writing headlines because they need to be short, but in actual fact this is an advantage. Emotional spikes, by nature, are fleeting.
You can't create a spike in emotion with long, rambling copy - you can create the build up, but not the spike itself. The effect of a good copywriting headline should be almost shocking, forcing the reader to react in the way you intend.
The best headlines don't ask for attention, they take it - without apology. The first headline on your page should touch on the single most emotionally compelling benefit of what you're selling.
Some copywriters throw "new" and "best" into every single headline, then wonder why they can't sell anything. These "hot words" will have no effect if they are too generic. You need to choose hot words which are appropriate for the product and the particular benefit you're honing in on.
It's fine to use a bit of hype in your headlines, but it needs to be targeted and appropriate - readers will only react to a headline as "too hyped up" if you force in the wrong hot words. It reeks of desperation, which implies what you are selling is no good.
Using the active voice with strong, succinct verbs will make your headlines much more powerful. By employing the active voice, you will automatically make all your headlines more concise and more emotionally compelling.
Some of the best headlines leave a thought or sentence unfinished, creating an emotional drive for the prospect to read on. In psychology this is known as an "open loop." You create suspense and tension in the reader, which leads to an emotional compulsion to continue reading the copy.
Writing headlines is all about finding ways to short-circuit the reader's logical mind, allowing emotions to take over. The ellipsis (...) is commonly used in copywriting on the Internet for the exact same reason.
Using questions as headlines is a popular technique, especially when it comes to web site headlines. Questions can be highly effective - but remember, you should always be leading the reader's emotions in the direction you want.
The question needs to create a particular state in the reader - curiosity about a product, a false sense of expectation which your copy will promptly dismiss, or a dire sense of need. Whatever it is, the question needs to be emotive rather than factual.
If you've ever seen a web site headline wrapped in quote marks, you know what I'm talking about here. Testimonials are extremely powerful selling tools because human beings are constantly taking social cues from each other.
When a potential customer hears what your current customers are saying about you, your products or services automatically become a more acceptable option. Of course, if you're going to use a testimonial for a headline, it must be real and it should be short and snappy. This technique is best saved for direct response copywriting headlines.
Author: Tom McSherry
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