Why Your Online Business Needs Magnetic Headlines
Copywriting skills are SINE QUA NON if you are to have an online business. How is anyone going to read what you have to say or learn about you if they won’t even get past your opening line? In today’s competitive atmosphere you have but mere seconds to make an impression that reflects the values that your business stands for, while creating a lasting impact, showcases your expertise, and ultimately drives your prospects to engage in an action YOU want them to take. Good headlines should aim to rouse people to attention, perk up their interest and persuade them to take an action. Read on how!
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Copywriting is a crucial strategy for anyone with an online business. It’s literally sales in text format.
Great copywriting will help you get far ahead of the game to convert readers into customers and literally improve your bottom line across all of your platforms.
Below is an excerpt from the ebook on how to write magnetic headlines from one of the best in the biz; Copyblogger.com
“Feel free to email, tweet, blog, and pass this ebook around the web … but please don’t alter any of its contents when you do. Thanks!” Resource – Rainmaker Digital, LLC
HOW TO WRITE MAGNETIC HEADLINES
Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader.
Without a compelling promise that turns a browser of your content into a reader of your content, the rest of your words may as well not even exist. So, from a copywriting and content marketing standpoint, writing great headlines is a critical skill.
Here are some interesting statistics.
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.
This is the secret to the power of your headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.
Remember, every element of compelling copy has just one purpose — to get the next sentence read.
And then the sentence after that, and so on, all the way down to your call to action. So it’s fairly obvious that if people stop at the headline, you’re already dead in the water.
The better your headline, the better your odds of beating the averages and getting what you’ve written read by a larger percentage of people.
Why You Should Always Write Your Headline First
by Brian Clark
Want to write great headlines, and even better content? Start with the headline first.
Of course, you’ll need to have a basic idea for the subject matter of your blog post, article, free report, or sales letter. Then, simply take that basic idea and craft a killer headline before you write a single word of the body content.
Your headline is a promise to readers. Its job is to clearly communicate the benefit you’ll deliver to the reader in exchange for their valuable time.
Promises tend to be made before being fulfilled. Writing your content first puts you in the position of having to reverse-engineer your promise.
Turn it around the other way and you have the benefit of expressly fulfilling the compelling promise you made with the headline, which ultimately helps to keep your content crisp and well-structured.
Trying to fulfill a promise you haven’t made yet is tough, and often leads to a marginal headline. And a poorly-crafted headline allows good deeds to go unnoticed.
You know, like your content.
“But that still doesn’t tell me how to write a great headline,” you’re saying.
No worries. That’s what the Mastering the Art of Copywriting course is all about.
The Cheater’s Guide to Writing Great Headlines
Imagine the life of the copywriter … a solitary figure staring intently at a computer screen (or out the window), flexing those mental muscles to create a killer headline out of thin air that will result in millions of dollars in sales.
Well, maybe not.
A more likely scenario has the copywriter looking for inspiration in her collection of winning space ads, sales letters and even the latest issue of Cosmo. She’ll also consult books that consist of nothing more than collections of headlines proven to work.
These compilations are called swipe files, and they’re worth their weight in gold when it comes to crafting great headlines.
Why? Because great headlines are constructed in certain time- and moneytested ways that can be adapted into different contexts and re-used over and over.
Anytime a promotion rakes in big bucks, you can bet copywriters and direct marketers will be studying (and saving) that headline for future reference.
In fact, swipe files can’t even really be considered cheating. It’s just the way it’s done if you want to write effective copy, especially when starting out.
Only once a copywriter has a true understanding of what works can they take a completely original approach, and even then it’s pretty rare to come up with a gangbuster headline that is 100% unique.
Thanks to the “do it yourself” nature of Internet marketing, you’ll find people selling headline swipe files and even software programs that promise a “fill-in-the-blank” solution based on the “greatest headlines” ever written. Don’t get suckered by this.
The problem with that approach should be obvious. If you don’t understand why a particular headline works, you’ll never be any good at writing them. Plus, without real understanding, you’ll likely choose the wrong “formula” for any given situation, which can cause even a well-written headline to fail.
Starting with these tested templates can improve your blog post titles immediately, which in turn should translate into more readership and traffic. I’ll demonstrate several of these winning headline formulas that are wellsuited for blogging, and explain why they work.
But first, let’s examine keywords, and why they are important in a headline. The answer may not be what you think.
Do Keywords in Post Titles Really Matter?
It’s an epic battle of biblical proportions in the blogosphere.
The search engine optimization camp says keywords are the most important aspect of a blog post title.
How else will you rank high in the results and get clicks by searchers, they say, if the right keywords are missing from the title?
On the other hand, you’ve got the purist “write for humans” camp, who collectively scoff at the notion of keyword research for headline writing.
What’s the point of search-optimized post titles if no one reads or shares in the first place? And search engine traffic isn’t really all that important to most bloggers anyway, they vehemently maintain, especially compared to high-quality referral traffic from links.
Well, here’s the verdict.
Keywords matter, but not necessarily for the reasons the SEO folks think.
Doing keyword research is a magical thing. It’s a free or low-cost window into the mind of your target audience.
Before search engines, there was no way to know the exact words that a large group of people would use when thinking about a certain topic. Oh sure, you could ask a small group of people, but anyone who has ever done focus groups will tell you that what people say in front of others is not the same as what they will really do.
So if you’re writing any type of headline, online or off, you should be doing search engine keyword research. Because any great headline should speak in the language of the audience, while wrapped up in a time-tested structure that catches attention and offers value.
But it gets better.
Any SEO pro worth listening to will tell you that you don’t go after the most popular keywords. You target the niche phrases. They may result in less traffic individually, but there’s a lot more of them, and less competition.
This is perfect for writing headlines for humans.
The niche phrases are much more specific, and specificity makes for a much better headline. Further, better headlines lead to better content when you write the headline first.
Google and the other search engines really do want to reflect what’s important to people. That’s why they use links and anchor text as one of the primary determinations of relevancy.
Keywords matter, because when you speak the language of the audience you attract more readers, more links, more retweets, more social bookmarks, and yes… more relevant search traffic.
Both camps are right, for different reasons.
Now that we’ve negotiated a temporary peace in the blogosphere, let’s look at one of the most effective headline types in the world — the “how-to” headline.
How to Write a Killer “How-to” Post That Gets Attention
Picture your blog post being retweeted thousands of times on Twitter, and shared all over Facebook. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll be in a better position to make that scenario a reality.
It’s no secret that how-to articles and blog posts are some of the most sought after, linked, and bookmarked content online. People want useful information, and they’ll reward you by promoting it to others when you provide it.
The biggest battle is getting enough people to read in the first place. And that battle is won or lost at the headline. What’s more, writing a killer “how to” headline will help you write even better how-to content when you fulfill the headline promise you made to get people to read in the first place.
It’s All About Benefits.
The crazy thing about the popularity of how-to content is the fact that people don’t really want to learn how to do anything else.
They’ve got plenty to do already, thank you.
But it’s exactly due to the crazy busy lives we lead that prompts us to seek out tips, tricks, and methods to make things better, easier, and ultimately happier for ourselves. Focusing on the “better, easier, and happier” is the key to great “how to…” headlines and content.
It’s not that people aren’t smart enough to understand the implied benefits of learning how to do something. It’s quite the opposite, actually. It’s just that implied benefits don’t prompt action like express benefits do.
People smartly employ aggressive attention filters when scanning headlines, and you’ll get through the filters of a lot more people if you spell out the benefits rather than relying on implication. Plus, body content that focuses on benefits as well as procedures is more emotionally engaging, which leaves the reader feeling better satisfied at the conclusion of the piece.
It’s been said that it’s almost impossible to write a bad “how to…” headline. That may be true, but what comes after those two magical words can make all the difference in the amount of attention and readership your writing gets.
Let’s take a look at the structure of a few famous “how to…” headlines, and see if we can’t figure out why they work and adapt them to new situations and content.
Double the Benefits, Double the Power
This may be the most famous “how to…” headline ever:
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Before Dale Carnegie’s classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People was conventionally published, he sold it by mail order with that same title as the headline of the sales letter. Certainly Carnegie’s content was compelling, but that headline is brilliant all by itself.
The headline structure is powerful. You’ve got benefit number one right after “How to,” with another benefit following the word “and.” Simple, right?
Deceptively so, as copywriter David Garfinkel has pointed out. There is a subtle relationship between the first benefit and the second that suggests if you can achieve the first, you can automatically achieve the second.
In this case, that implication doesn’t make sense — lots of people have friends and yet are completely lacking in influence. But that cause-and-effect relationship still likely helped Carnegie achieve greatness with his home-study course, and later with the ubiquitous book.
It’s much smarter from a credibility standpoint to use this structure when benefit one and benefit two are actually related. Here’s a few examples that Garfinkel gives in his book:
How to [Mundane Task] That [Rewarding Benefit]
It’s often harder than you might think to extract the true benefits of learning how to do something. Often, you can simply take a normal “how to…” title and make it better simply by using the transition word “that” immediately following the subject matter of the tutorial.
Once you add “that,” just ask yourself what the top benefit of your tutorial is. Then figure out the best way to say it (which usually means being as specific as possible).
• How to Get a Mortgage That Saves You Money • How to Get a Mortgage That Cuts your Monthly Payment in Half • How to Get a Mortgage That Gets You in Your Dream Home While Saving You $937 a Month
Leaving Out the “To” Works, Too
Want to increase the curiosity factor of your headline, while just about guaranteeing that you’ll nail the primary benefit of your tutorial? Start with “How” but leave out the “to.” You’ll still be making a beneficial promise to your reader that will be fulfilled in the content, but the intrigue factor will be higher and your results perhaps even better.
Let’s look at these famous headlines:
• How I Improved My Memory in One Evening • How I Made a Fortune With a “Fool Idea” • How a New Kind of Clay Improved My Complexion in 30 Minutes
Those are pretty intriguing headlines, right? Likewise, let’s say you’re a brilliant techie who has just solved a problem that affects millions of computer users, and you’re aiming to light up Hacker News for a week.
How about this?
• How One Easy Tweak Makes Windows Crash Proof
Then again, that article faces the rather steep challenge of being impossible to write.
The more you focus on the benefits to the reader in your headline, the more readers you’ll have. And by touching on the beneficial aspects while laying out the procedural content, you’ll have more happy readers at the conclusion of the piece.
Get our complete Mastering Copywriting for unique examples and professional insights into how to communicate clearly with your audience by writing effective, compelling, and engaging copy exclusively for the web.
Valuable Content Rules
It’s clear from observation that people will retweet based on the headline alone, before even clicking through to the content.
But keep in mind, your followers may retweet based on a headline alone, but only because they trust you. Your past performance and editorial judgment in selecting (and producing) quality content is what leads to that trust.
Quality content is still the essential ingredient, but make sure people actually appreciate the content you share. Becoming a better headline writer will make that happen for you.
Practice, practice, practice
Learning how to write great headlines is an absolutely critical part of your success as a content marketer and copywriter. So make sure you read (and reread) this book several times, and absorb its critical lessons.
And your next move, of course, is to practice writing headlines. Spending lots of time working on your headlines is a critical step in getting better at this particular skill.
When you write your next post, make sure you leave plenty of time for writing and experimenting with headlines.
Study the formulas above, start your own swipe file, and make sure you continue to practice every time you create a new piece of content — whether it’s a blog post, free ebook, tutorial video, or sales letter.
Now it’s your turn — go out there and create some spectacular headlines. The better you get at writing them, the more your content (and your business) will improve.