On average, five times as many people read headlines as body copy, so unless yours has real stopping power, your prospects’ roving eyes will likely look elsewhere. Harsh, but true.
Whether it’s an email subject line, a direct mail piece, or a magazine ad, drafting attention-getting headlines can dramatically increase the chance to get your message read and your marketing objective accomplished.
So how do you flag down a reader in that fleeting moment of awareness? Here are a few headline-enhancing tips to make the quick connection that buys you precious time to make your pitch.
State The Benefit. The question foremost on your prospect’s mind is “What’s in it for me?” Put a relevant benefit or reward in your headline and you’ll send a clear signal that your message merits further consideration. Example: “Pick Up Some Oatmeal, Lower Your Cholesterol” leaves no doubt about the opportunity to improve a health issue with a simple change in diet.
Keep It Short. Time is limited, and most people want their information in bite-size portions. Shorter headlines are punchier and easier to read, with eight words or fewer a good rule of thumb. If you need more words to get your point across, consider putting them in a subhead. Example: Headline – “More Comfort, Less Cost.” Subhead – “Get Low Monthly Payments On A New Air Conditioning System.”
Be Conversational. Using technical jargon, unfamiliar words, acronyms, and excessive punctuation are all ways to give your prospect a reason to tune out. In most situations, writing like people talk will greatly improve your readability, credibility and engagement. Good Example: “Try This Quick Way To Break Up A Cold.” Bad Example: “Eradicate Upper Respiratory Infection With This Accelerated FDA-Approval-Pending Treatment Methodology.”
Use Numbers and Lists. Helping your readers zero in on what’s in it for them gets a big boost when you incorporate numbers. They know they can zoom in and out quickly and pick up some useful information. Multiples of five are the benchmark, but don’t be afraid to go for the extra eye-catching impact of unusual sets of numbers. Examples: “9 Ways To Get More Out Of Multi-Tasking,” “16 Tweaks To Improve Your Website Design,” “32 Days To A Flatter Stomach.”
The better your headlines, the more engagement with your target audience. Keep them clear, snappy and relevant, and you’ll make meaningful connections that turn browsers into readers … and prospects into customers.