The 5 Essential Elements Of A Great Headline

Would you like to win more customers?

Would you like your copy to be more persuasive? And more engaging…

If so, you need to have great headlines.

Headlines can make or break your copy.

They’re the first thing that readers see and set the tone for everything else.

In fact, most people won’t even read past the headline unless it captures their attention and piques their interest.

You may have the greatest copy in the world, but if the headline is boring, most people won't bother reading it.

A strong headline compels readers to continue reading while a poor one makes them click away. And once they’re gone, they’re not coming back.

It’s safe to say that the better your headline writing skills are, the more it benefits your business.

For example, did you know that better headlines lead to lower bounce rates, higher levels of engagement and better conversions?

And the more engaged your audience is the more sales you're likely to get.

But you might be wondering…

What makes a great headline?​

Here are the five essential elements of a great headline:

1. Grabs Attention

Your headline is competing against millions of other articles, sales letters, and advertisements. This mean it has to hook your readers and pique their interest from the get go. If it fails to do that, it’s a poor headline.

Consider this headline by men’s dating expert, David Deangelo:

double your dating headline

This headline grabs your attention. It implies that he knows the reason why most guys struggle with women and he’ll teach you exactly what to do about it. If you’re a guy struggling with the ladies, you probably want to find out what you’re doing wrong.

The secondary headline also contains the word “sexual attraction” which hooks readers. How do you trigger sexual attraction inside of a woman? You have to read on to find out.

2. Generates Curiosity

Advertising legend, Joseph Sugarman, says that a headline’s purpose is to get your readers to read the first sentence. And the purpose of the first sentence is to get them to read the second sentence. I definitely agree with this statement. An effective headline gets your readers curious and compels them to read on.

For example, this classic headline achieves this:

What are these mistakes? How do you know if you’re making them? To find out, you have to continue reading the copy.

3. Promises a Benefit

If your headline isn’t useful to readers, they likely won’t continue reading the rest of your copy. Readers only care about one thing: how you can help them.

What benefit can you offer readers? How can you make their lives better?

If you can include a big benefit in your headline, you dramatically increase the chances of hooking your readers.

This headline for the Money Sense Guide to the Perfect Portfolio offers a huge benefit to readers - “Learn How To Create A Highly Profitable Portfolio With Minimal Costs.” If you're interested in investing, this definitely makes you pay attention.

"Revealed" is one of those words that draw readers in. It implies that you're about to share a secret.

The headline also addresses potential objections from readers. You might be thinking “While that’s great, but I don’t have any investment experience. How can I do that?”

So the headline immediately addressed that with “…Even If You Have No InvestmentExperience.”

This objection technique is especially effective if you’re making a bold claim in the headline. Your readers are bombarded with dozens of different ads a day promising them things. This makes us highly skeptical of anyone making huge promises to us.

Thus, one of the best ways to hook your readers is to pre-empt their objections beforehand. The key is to first think about your claim, then think of the possible objections that readers might have, and then address those objections right away.

4. Is Specific

Your headline should give readers enough information so they know that it’s relevant to them. If it’s not specific enough, readers won’t know whether to continue reading - and a confused reader is the last thing you want. Your headline should always be clear and specific so that readers know that it’s intended for them.

For example, consider this headline on Airbnb’s homepage:

airbnb homepage headline

This headline does a number of things well. The first this is that they make the first two words all caps – “WELCOME HOME”. This makes it stand out and grab your attention.

But the headline is also ultra specific. Instead of just saying “Rent places to stay in different countries”, it says “Rent unique places to stay with local hosts in 190+countries.” Customers know exactly what they’re getting from the start. This adds trust and credibility.

5. Creates Urgency

Whether it’s getting readers to open an email, read an article or purchase a product,you want them to take action NOW. Adding urgency to your headline compels readers to do just that. This because no one likes to miss out on an opportunity.

While urgency is important, it may not always be possible to include it in your headline.But when possible, adding urgency can drastically boost conversion rates.

This promotional headline from Copyblogger effectively creates urgency:

The words “Last Chance” shakes readers up and informs them that there’s a deadline for the offer. If they don’t act fast - within the next few hours - the sales ends. This increases the chances of readers taking action.

Great headlines use four or five of these elements. While it may be difficult to include all five elements in a headline, if you can include at least a couple of them, you’ll be much more likely to hook your readers to continue reading your copy.

What are your favorite headlines? I'd love to hear them. Leave your favorite headlines in the comment section below :)​

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The 5 Essential Elements Of A Great Headline

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