Don’t Read This or The Dog Dies
You don’t care about the dog, do you?
I warned you to not come here read this, and you’ve still broken the rule. Poor Dog.
What can I say? Future looks rather grim for this surprisingly well-behaved animal. He needs to eat. He is hungry.
Anyway, I am making him skip his dinner until you finish this article, and even then I am not sure if he deserves it.
But first, let’s talk about how to write great headlines that perform.
Headlines are crucial. We have known that for more than a century now.
The last summer I wrote an article for a clothing brand and called it ‘how to knit uglier sweaters?’
It didn’t talk much about how to knit a sweater — I couldn’t. I am no grandma — but it remained at the top of the list of the popular articles on the website.
The entire credit goes to the headline.
Although I won’t recommend pulling that cheap stunt if you can’t support it with helpful relevant content.
While we all know the basics, we can still use a gentle reminder of how important headlines are and how can we write better versions of them.
Joe Sugarman Secret
Sugarman, the legendary copywriter, puts it concisely into a line that everything this piece is about.
He said the purpose of a headline is to get the first sentence read.
If you have read about any of his seminars on copywriting, you’d know how he would candidly ask the students the purpose of headline and stop them midway every time a student would try to complicate it with his jargon-filled explanation.
He would counter, “The purpose is to get the first sentence read.”
That’s a great general rule to write the entire piece, line by line, where each line is pushing the reader to the next.
The 50–50 rule is formed to tackle the 80–20 rule, as per which 8 out of 10 people read the headline but only 2 continue with the piece.
As per the 50–50 rule, you should invest as much time in writing the headline as much you spend on crafting a persuasive content.
In short, get obsessed with your headlines.
What you get out of reading master copywriters of past is they would often revise headlines tens of times before putting it out in the world.
Gene Schwartz said, “The first 50 words are the most important part of any writing.”
So be it.
How to craft a Headline that performs
The copywriting team at American Writers and Artists Institute teaches us about Four U’s approach on how to write magnetic headlines. They say that each headline, subhead and bullet should;
Be Useful to your audience.
Convey a sense of Urgency to your audience.
Capture the main benefit of the product or service you are offering in a Unique template.
Execute all the above 3 U’s in an Ultra-Specific way.
Apart from sticking to the Four U’s approach, it’s a great idea to ask a few basic questions before you sit down to write a headline.
This combination would provide you with an effective framework for writing magnetic headlines.
Here are the questions:
Does my headline offer a reward to my audience for reading my article?
Could I add an element of intrigue in my headline to trigger a more actionable emotion in the reader?
Does my headline instantly inform my audience about the subject at hand?
Could breaking a rule of writing benefit my headline and drive the prospect into reading my opening copy.
Regularly practising the art of writing effective headlines adds up to the knowledge you have about the subject matter.
In the end, it all boils down to work and focus.
Besides…my elder sister rescued the dog and fed him his dinner while I was busy writing this piece.
Have a question or want help with your content marketing? You can directly message me to get in touch. Seasonal Friend helps small businesses in creating useful content — the kind that helps businesses reach their goals.