How to Write Headlines that Get Attention
There are a staggering 112,500 blog posts published every hour.
And here’s the deal.
Your article must grab your reader’s attention. If it doesn’t, it will be lost amongst the billions of pages of internet landfill.
The headline is what your reader first notices.
Sure, a reader is drawn to an alluring image or photo but that’s only because we can process an image faster than words. But it’s the headline that gets you thinking. If it’s not compelling, the reader will continue their scanning.
This post will show you how to write headlines that captivate your reader.
The most important element of a post is the headline
Make no mistake — the headline is the opening act of the show.
If the headline isn’t read, there’s no chance the content of your post will be read.
Being able to write headlines that grab attention is the most important skill to master as an online writer.
Firstly, your reader is busy scanning. It’s the job of the headline to stop the reader dead in her tracks from further scanning and make her take notice. If the headline entices her, she’ll go on to read the opening sentence.
The headline must contain a promise and a benefit to the reader, about what the article is about.
The promise in the headline must be delivered in the content of your article.
However, you’re only able to grab the reader’s attention if the promise in the headline can benefit them. The key to this is understanding your audience, their problems, and what they hope to achieve.
David Ogilvy in his book Ogilvy on Advertising said:
The headlines which work best are those that promise the reader a benefit.
I’m now going to show you how to create a headline that catches the reader’s attention and draws them in.
How to write headlines that seduce using the 4 U’s Formula
It’s called the 4 U’s Headline Formula and works like this.
Is the headline:
Let’s work through an example.
Say you’re going to write an article about how to clean windows. That’s your headline.
“How to Clean Windows”
The promise you’re making is that you’re going to show your reader how to clean windows. It’s a useful headline but you’re not making it unique, ultra-specific, or urgent.
By changing the headline, it can be made unique. For example,
“How to Clean Windows with Ammonia”
Now the headline has an element of uniqueness. Cleaning windows using ammonia may not be well known.
But a further step is required to make it stand out and demand attention. This can be done by making the headline ultra-specific.
“36 Ways to Clean Windows Using Ammonia”
Now the headline is useful because it promises to teach you something; it’s unique, and it’s ultra-specific.
And finally, you could put some urgency into the headline.
“36 Ways to Clean Windows using Ammonia Before Nightfall”
So now you have a headline that’s ultra-specific, urgent, unique, and useful
Other useful information about using the 4 U’s Formula
- The goal is to get as many of the 4 U’s into your headline as possible. The trade-off is the more you have, the longer the headline. A short headline is always better.
- Ideally, you want at least three of the U’s in the headline. The most important are Useful, Unique and one other being Ultra-specific or Urgent.
- For ultra-specific I’ve used “36 Ways”. Numbering may have been done to death, but it works. In fact, the larger the number the higher the engagement.
- Urgency is the most difficult to fit into a headline. There are two ways you can do this.
- Put a deadline on it, like, “Order this year’s vintage wine now, limited supplies”, or “Order your copy before the midnight deadline”.
- Another way to create urgency is the idea that something bad is going to happen to you if you don’t act now (the threat of death or a major illness), or you’re going to miss out on something good.
The job of the headline is to get your readers attention so she’ll then read your first sentence.
The headline is the most important element of your post and must contain a promise and a benefit to your reader.
The 4 U’s Formula of how to write headlines gives you a framework to craft seductive headlines by making them:
Although a short headline has more punch than a longer one, the goal is to get as many of the 4 U’s into your headline as possible.
That said, always include the most important which are Useful and Unique.
Originally published at Strategic Content.