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The Real Secret to Writing Oscar Worthy Headlines
by Andrew Hiddlesto n
You provide rich and valuable content yet f ew seem to notice. Your blog gets traf f ic. But bounce rate is high and the only interaction is between you and spam bots. Newsletter sign-ups are also painf ully low. You wonder if it’s worth emailing such a tiny group. Lately you’ve even considered cancelling the autoresponder service altogether. Hold on bef ore you do anything drastic. Let’s do a quick assessment. If these symptoms sound f amiliar… you may be suffering from JAB. Don’t f eel bad. It’s probably not entirely your f ault. JAB is short f or “just another blog”. And it should make you cringe. T he kiss of death. T he f inale. Time of death is… Trust me, JAB is terrible because the good stuf f a healthy blog creates hasn’t happened. Obviously it is way easier. Less ef f ort. T hat’s kind of a benef it, right? I guess you could say that. Here’s your WordPress Twenty-Ten theme and of f icial JAB certif icate. Congratulations you’re average! Bef ore I get emailed about it – there’s nothing wrong with the Twenty-Ten theme I’m simply making a point. But being average is just that. Average results, average revenue and an average business. T hat business model won’t pay bills, buy cars or f eed f amilies. You need people to read your content. Whether it’s a blog post or sales letter. But you need their attention f irst and that’s why headlines are so critical. Internet surf ers have ADHD-like attention spans. Deliver that initial impact quickly. Here’s the good news… Af ter you create intrigue, the reader is much more receptive to reading your entire message. In short, you buy more of their valuable “attention time” which directly impacts your conversion rate. Today you’ll f ind how to get more of this precious commodity.
Your headline doesn’t resonate or create intrigue
Headlines tell visitors a lot about you and your content. It can be the dif f erence between a quick exit (i.e.
bounce rate) or long term happy subscriber. Have you written them f or search engines or people? Do they f orce me to continue reading…like an impulse? Does it promise a benef it or piece of knowledge I must know? Your Success hinges on the headlines ability to seduce the reader . Just enough to create the urge of wanting more. Getting the reader to simply click “Read More” on your blog icreases your in control. T his is the very powerf ul commitment and consistency principle at play (discussed by Dr. Robert Cialdini). Curiosity also can work wonders. It’s the primary reasons list style posts are so popular. “Top 10 of X” “T he Top X of Y” Curiosity creates a powerf ul urge. Almost demanding to know what is (and what isn’t) on the list.
Figure out what they want most and give it to them
Humans are self ish creatures. How does it af f ect me…right now…today. T hat’s what most of us care about (whether we admit it or not). So delivering a powerf ul headline that resonates and creates emotion requires you to understand what “they” want in the f irst place. T his should be the f irst step bef ore setting up a blog. But it’s never too late. So who is “they”? Your target audience. Forums still provide a robust depot of inf ormation f or market and prospect research. You can learn incredible amounts by simply joining, listening and reading. Don’t look at this process as boring. It’s incredibly valuable and will re-pay itself over and over again in the f uture. Most importantly it puts you into communication with your market and ideal prospects. You can learn what drives, motivates and angers them. You can learn what they want so you can ef f ectively market to them. So how can you grab attention and start some interaction with your visitors?
Lean back and hurl the biggest benef it you’ve got
Why hold anything back? Tell them (in a sexy kinda way) exactly what they’ll learn and why they’d be crazy to miss it. T he easiest way f or anyone to write a good headline is to f ocus on a benef it. What problem does it solve? How will the reader’s lif e be better af ter they f inish?
Why would it be catastrophic f or them to miss it? Ask these questions while writing your headline and subsequent hook. Ultimately what do they want to know and how can I make it irresistible? Let’s analyze today’s headline “T he Real Secret to Writing Headlines Worthy of an Oscar”. 1. Clearly a benef it is promised – writing Oscar quality headlines. 2. But I also added intrigue – the real secret. You should mix and match. See what your readers respond to and go f rom there. Another recent example was 5 Simple Tips to Increase Landing Page Conversions. 1. Once again the benef it is clear – increase landing page conversions 2. But I created more interest with “simple” 3. And extra curiosity with “5”…yep, it’s a list post, hooray!
Three headlines are better than one
“Andrew, you’re a swell guy but I’m still not a copywriter and can’t write headlines”. Deep breath. Exhale. Good. First, you don’t need to be a “copywriter” to write great headlines. T he term copywriter gets overused and place on a pedestal. Guess what? You write with the purpose to sell (at some point)? You’re a copywriter. Maybe not a Gary Bencivenga or Ben Settle, but good enough to take care of your own business. Second, f ocus on benef its. What results can people expect and why can they not miss it. Don’t be cute, deceptive or tricky. Lay it on the table and tell ‘em exactly why their lives will be better when they f inish. T hird, if you’re really stuck or lack conf idence write 3 dif f erent headlines. Try to come up with dif f erent appeals or angles. Send them to f riends or colleagues to read. Ask them to pick 1. Which headline was most popular? Ask them why they liked it and make some note. You now have a rough starting point. Remember, if your reader doesn’t go beyond the headline there’s zero chance of that person becoming a subscriber or customer. You’ve pretty much lost them f or good. Know your prospect and their desires. Understand exactly what it is they want (what they truly deeply want) so you can ef f ectively communicate to them. You made it right to the end. Fantastic.