Extra Extra! Here are some ways to get your headlines to kick some serious butt!
What comes to mind when you think of great landing page headlines? For me, I recall that old segment Jay Leno used to do on the Tonight Show, where one-by-one, he’d show the camera a stack of newspaper article headlines carefully pasted on black card stock.
The headlines and photo captions were humorous for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a photo that didn’t match the headline, a typo had been overlooked by an editor, or more often, a headline had some (unintended) dual meaning that made it funny.
The best (worst?) ones were usually the engagement announcements, where two last names hyphenated together would take on a whole new meaning.
Jay did the bit about once a week for years and years. But where’d he get all those funny headlines? Viewers sent them in from all over the world. The humorous headlines had grabbed their attention to the point that they took the time to cut them out and mail them to Jay Leno.
However silly the topic, all of them accomplished the first of three goals all great landing page headlines should have: capture the attention of the reader.
Goal 1: Grab Attention!
If you don’t capture attention right off the bat, you—actually your reader—is not going to get very far. On a website or landing page, if a visitor’s attention isn’t grabbed by the headline, they’re probably going to leave your page before they do what you actually want them to do: make a purchase, fill out a lead form, call you, etc.
While capturing attention is important, it’s only the first step. A catchy headline is fun and all, but if the reader still has no idea what the article or landing page is about, then the headline has failed. Thus, we continue on to the next goal of headlines.
Goal 2: Inform the Reader Well
Have you ever been to a restaurant where you ordered a new dish because the name and description really sounded delicious, only to have your meal arrive looking and tasting nothing like what you imagined? If this has happened to you, I offer my sincerest apologies.
If not, be glad! But you can imagine it’d be pretty disappointing (especially if you are hungry!), and would certainly put a bad taste in your mount (pun intended).
Well, the same goes for headlines. Nobody likes feeling mislead, so it’s important that headlines accurately represent the information that follows.
Headlines are relatively short, by nature, so they don’t have to tell the whole story of what your landing page or offering is about, but they DO need to give the general idea of what the rest of the landing page is about. So beyond commanding attention, headlines must inform the reader of the topic for that page or section of content.
Be clear with what you offer.
Goal 3: Motivate the Reader to Continue Reading
So you’ve successfully captured your reader’s attention, and you’ve even helped them understand what the rest of your content is going to be about. But now you’ve got to give them a reason to read on. In other words, how do you get the reader’s interest? Will your content be especially applicable to them? Will it be funny? Entertaining? Useful? Unique? Your headline must do something that makes them want to keep reading.
So now that we know the three things all great landing page headlines must do, here are three useful ways to help you do them:
1) Use Creative Wording to Capture Attention
To capture the reader’s attention, you’ve got to get creative. I’m not going to say you should avoid the tried and tested headline formats that have been working since the beginning of time, but I will say that making your headline unique and creative will make it a lot easier to capture the attention you want.
DISCLAIMER: Creative is not the same as being clever. Always strive to be clear and to the point with your headlines.
A book I’ve found useful when writing headlines for both landing pages and ads is Words that Sell by Richard Bayan. You can find it on Amazon here.
I’d recommend skimming through the book and familiarizing yourself with the various sections. This will help when you sit down to brainstorm new headlines.
When you think of a word you’d like to use in your headline, look it up in the index, and it’ll usually recommend a couple sections to check. This is a good way to find words that are both more effective and shorter, if you need to get your character numbers down.
Books like these are awesome when you just can’t quite think of that perfect word for your headline. Even just flipping through the book can be awesome at battling writer’s block. I highly recommend it 🙂
2) Add a Subheading to Better to Clarify Your Headline
Having to write a catchy headline, that is also informative, can be tricky.
You might be thinking, “It’s so hard when we only have a small number of characters to include all these benefits!” Well, you’re right.
Allow me to let you in on a wonderful little trick that can actually give you more space to inform your reader. It’s called a subheading, and they’re wonderful, glorious gifts to anyone who writes headlines.
A subheading gives a little additional room to clarify what your headline means. You can also use it to list additional benefits.
For example, if the main headline is, “Onboard New Patients in Half the Time” you might add a subheading that reads something like, “Now you can email new clients, manage billing, and track profits all from one easy platform.”
In addition to clarifying main headlines and boasting added benefits, subheadings can also be used to continue the ‘story’ and encourage readers to stay on your page. Click here for a great blog post from Unbounce that touches on headings and subheadings.
3) Tell a Story or Give Social Proof to Increase Reader Interest
People relate to stories. As we read, we often identify with characters. We might think a certain person in the story reminds us of someone we know or even ourselves. This makes it easier for us to understand and remember details of a story, and makes them more meaningful to us.
Since stories usually take longer to tell than we have space in our headline, we can include statements that explain the bottom line of a story, in the form of social proof.
Here are some examples:
- “See how June saved $600/year on her Internet bill.”
- “See how XYZ Company increased Dave’s Dawgs’ profit by 40%.”
- “Learn how Sally cut the time it takes to plan family meals in half.”
Suddenly June, Dave, and Sally are relatable to us—a neighbor, an uncle, or even ourselves! We think, “Gosh, if Sally can cut her meal planning time in half, maybe I can too!”
Stories and social proof are particularly interesting to us because it makes us want to learn how we might go about gaining similar benefits. And that makes for pretty good motivation for anyone to read on!
Well there you have it: three things great landing page headlines must do, and three tips for getting them done. So get out there and make your headlines catch attention, inform the reader, and motivate him/her to read on. Give them a whirl and let me know how it goes!
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