I’m sure we can all recall a particularly powerful headline we have seen in the past. But have you ever considered what made it so memorable? A headline should be an appetiser for the main dish, enough to whet the appetite, whilst providing just enough to leave the reader hungry for more…
By now, we are extremely aware that most people will quickly scan a headline; only a couple of dedicated readers will approach the main body of text. An unfortunate fact of the modern age is that reading is a dying art. This presents a challenge for writers, as using a minimal number of words to convert casual scanners into interested readers can be extremely tricky.
To help you overcome this obstacle, we’ve got some useful tips to help you create the lexicon equivalent of the Venus flytrap, and instantly engage your readers.
As with many things in life, being direct is often the best way to get what you want. Look at any newspaper, and you’ll learn one of the basic rules behind headlines – ten words or less. Anything said in twenty words can be said in ten, so cut the filler and keep it concise. Command attention with an urgent headline; present tense verbs are a powerful choice, as they provide an active voice and help to create a sense of urgency.
Words are Your Weaponry
The master of advertising David Ogilvy conducted a secret study in 1963 on the power of emotive lexis, compiling a list of words to turn a boring sentence into a remarkable headline.
Although some of these may seem intuitive and obvious, such as ‘free’ and ‘sale’, others on the list are slightly surprising. Have you ever considered using ‘instantly’ or ‘improvement’ within a headline? Because these words are proven to convert. Look back to the first sentence of this paragraph – do you notice anything unusual? There were two words used to appeal to the emotive side we all have: ‘secret’ and ‘remarkable’ – consider using these within your next headline for high-impact results.
No Empty Promises
Offer the reader a solution to their problems. Perhaps you’re introducing a product or service that can make their life easier, or you’re able to teach them something new. Either way, if you give the reader a beneficial reason to read on, they will. An example of this in practice would be, ‘How you can transform casual readers into customers?’. Make the reader an offer they can’t refuse – just ensure that you follow up on any promises within the main body of text.
Ultimately, copywriting exists to drive sales. So when writing content for your blog, website, product descriptions or newsletter, keep it short, simple and direct. This is not the time to be overly flowery or wordy – you may win the heart of the reader, but this won’t necessarily translate into tangible results. Focus on drawing the reader in and piquing their curiosity, then go in for the kill by getting straight to the point with something that benefits them, and ultimately generates sales for your business.