Think about how you read your daily news feed. If you’re like most people, you read by using a “headline search.” That is, you peruse or scan through the feed reading only the headlines, and if one happens to catch your interest, you may read the accompanying article. Any good internet marketing strategy knows that the key to being successful is to use catchy, effective headlines.
The sole purpose of a headline is to catch the reader’s interest and create a desire for them to read further. That is why headlines are printed in large, bold type; proper internet marketing places them in images as well.
Good headlines are designed to reach out and grab the reader by the eyeballs and say, in effect, “Hey, stop scrolling and look what I’ve got to say to you!”
The best place to see good headlines is in the newspaper. The absolute worst place is in the Yellow Pages. Just open a copy and you’ll see.
Look at some of the full- and half-page ads under the heading “Insurance,” for instance. See if any of the headlines compel you to read further or to want to find out more.
Here are a few headline examples from the insurance section of the Yellow Pages:
“Automobile Insurance” – Really? I’m in the insurance section of the book. I would hope you sold auto insurance.
“Western Pacific Agencies” – So? Who cares? What benefit is that to me? Sorry, but the name of your company doesn’t excite me or make me want to read further.
“Better Things To Do Than Shop For Insurance?” – Answer? Of course I do. And I have better things to do than answer your dumb questions or read your insulting ad any further.
“Insurance Shoppe” – What’s the benefit for me?
“Instant Computer Quotes” – So what? Any one of a number of the other companies listed can do the same thing. Why should I call you or read any further?
None of these headlines will get potential clients excited to read any further. And this example isn’t only limited to insurance companies. In every category of the phone book, you can find similar examples.
Take a look at your local newspaper. Have you ever seen an article with a headline like this?
“Written by Tammy Olsen”
The name of the writer is no more compelling than the name of the business in our Yellow Pages examples. Instead, you’ll find articles with catchy headlines like:
“Teeth Lead To Man In Money Con”
“Boy, 10, Recovering From Dog Attack”
“Xerox To Cut 5,000 Local Jobs”
These kinds of headlines are written to get your attention … to interrupt you … to get you to stop and read further.
Notice there’s no mention of anyone’s name and no insulting or silly questions; it’s just interest-generating copy designed to do a job. And that one job is to get your attention. And they do it very effectively. People use headlines to help them decide what they’re going to read, so help them out.
Here’s an example.
Suppose you own a computer store and want to run an ad to sell the computers. Which headline will pull the largest readership?
EAST VALLEY COMPUTERS
“How to Sit at Home and Make $1,200 a Week with Your Computer . . . Even if You Don’t Know How to Use It!”
Well, there’s no question. The second ad would win hands down. It says something to the reader. It captures their attention. It addresses a situation they can relate to.
It tells them boldly they can stay home, not fight the traffic, not buy expensive work clothes, not pay for dry cleaning, save on car expenses, and make good money … and they don’t even have to know how to use a computer.
It even suggests you don’t even have to presently own a computer, but if you were to buy one, you could earn this type of money.
But, as a computer store owner, how would you fulfill that promise? Actually, that’s an entirely separate subject, but here’s a brief answer: Offer a free training manual or video to everyone who buys a computer as a result of this ad.
But, what’s most important is which ad was most effective?
Take a trip back to the Yellow Pages and see how many ads have headlines like the first one above. (No wonder so many businesses are in trouble today.)
Your headlines should offer your prospects and clients the biggest benefit your service can provide. If you can’t get their interest with the biggest benefit you offer, you’ll not get them with anything less.
Headlines don’t have to be limited to print ads. You can effectively use headlines in your sales letters, your internet marketing efforts, and your personal greetings when a client is in your place of business.
It’s the way you phrase your opening statement that determines whether they have an interest in what you offer.
How’s this for a verbal headline?
“Hi! May I help you?”
Have you ever heard that before? Have you ever used it? Of course you have. And you know the exact response, right?
“No, I’m just looking.”
Not a very effective way of getting a prospect’s attention, is it? No wonder (again) why so many businesses are having trouble.
Why not take the time to construct an effective opening headline, not only for your printed materials, but for your verbal presentations as well.
Some advertising experts estimate that five to six times as many people read the headlines as do the body copy in an ad. That may be true, but if the readers are busy people, those figures are most likely on the very low side.
The right headline can make or break an ad. If the headline doesn’t get the reader’s attention (and do it in just a couple of seconds) and instill in him a desire to read the rest of the ad or promotion, the headline has not done its job. It’s failed.
Headlines are so important to the success of an ad that you should spend whatever time it takes to create attention-getting and interest-building headlines that appeal to the reader or viewer’s emotions based on your internet marketing strategy.
Headlines that are part of a successful internet marketing strategy will usually include the following:
1.A specific reference to the target market or prospect.
2.The promise of the biggest benefit your service can offer.
3.Identify a current or potential frustration your prospect faces.
4.Develop an urgency to take action now.
It’s not uncommon for professional copywriters to write more than 100 headlines in order to come up with one or two good ones. And testing is one way (probably the best way) to determine which headlines work the best.
Sometimes, changing just one word in a headline can improve its pulling power by several hundred-fold. Some of the best and most effective headlines can be found in tabloid publications like The National Enquirer, The Globe, and The Sun, or on the covers of magazines like Cosmopolitan or Reader’s Digest.
In many cases, just a four- or five-word headline describes what’s in the entire article.
And, it’s the headlines that spark an interest and make you want to buy the publication and get into the articles to find out more. That’s what effective headlines are supposed to do.
Other great headline examples are the article titles on the fronts of magazines. This “teaser” copy is what makes people pick up magazines while waiting in checkout lines and is responsible in large part for what sells magazines.
If you’ve ever wondered how important these titles or headlines are, just compare the covers of a Reader’s Digest that comes to your home by subscription with the same issue that’s sold on the newsstand.
The home-delivered issue is already sold, so the headlines are more subdued, not so bold, and often refer to completely different stories or articles inside.
On the other hand, the newsstand version is competing with every other magazine on the rack, including the tabloids with their often outlandish and boisterous headlines.
Whatever you do, don’t let any of your internet marketing pieces go out without an attention-grabbing headline. An effective headline can make all the difference in the world to the success of your marketing efforts.
Interested in knowing more about internet marketing and how to use it as part of your small business strategy? Email the experts at VisionPATH Business Solutions via firstname.lastname@example.org.
VisionPATH Business Solutions offers personalized consulting and advisory services to companies large and small. We have a long-standing reputation of providing honest, individualized advice to our clients. No matter your need, whether it is to capture new market share, to streamline processes and cut costs or to add services and grow your business, you can rely on VisionPATH to provide you with honest advice to help you achieve your goals.