Drive Better Sales with Your Writing by Using More Subheaders
Maximize this powerful technique to improve your SEO, create better flow within your content, and sell more stuff.
Subheaders are a powerful tool for better writing. Whether you’re writing a product description or sales copy for a marketing email, subheaders should be your bread and butter as you design and create digital written content centered around selling more stuff. In fact, implementing subheaders into my book descriptions boosted my sales by 18% from the same marketing list versus not using them at all.
Last week, I wrote an article about how the Napkin Rule can change your world. Once you’ve mastered the Napkin Rule, then you’re ready to jump in and start writing killer sales copy that leans on writing better subheaders.
How can I sell more and drive more engagement with subheaders? Let’s dive in.
Why subheaders matter — you read this one, didn’t you?
Subheaders allow your readers to anticipate what’s coming next by giving them a brief window into the cohesive theme of the paragraphs to follow. As a whole, they tie together your copy and provide better flow. Think of subheaders as a map or blueprint of your content — scaffolding that holds it all together. For products and services, it is your chance to quickly highlight the components of value you are bringing to the table for your customers even as they skim through your page.
Start with plenty of subheaders, then cut it back
The drafting phase is your opportunity to get creative and slam a ton of subheaders throughout your copy. Start with more, then edit back and use your best — tweak them along the way to see what works best, and don’t be afraid to make changes later down the line. Don’t be afraid to keep the winners and ditch the losers. Quality is more important than quantity.
Take a lesson from Medium — H1 & H2 do just fine.
Medium uses simplistic, easy formatting tools within its text editor. Though it lacks features from platforms such as WordPress, it still has everything you need to succeed. Fewer heading sizes to work with plus plenty of white space create a great user reading experience.
Use an H1 (Heading Size 1) format for your main title or any content that is meant to steal the show. Anything else in the piece should be H2 (Heading Size 2). If you are creating content on more technical platforms, H3, and H4 headings can be used for lower-priority or subheaders falling into the hierarchy of a great tag but should be used sparingly.
H2 subheaders should make up the bulk of your formating for subheaders in anything you write.
Leverage your keywords, but don’t slam a word in just for the potential SEO benefit
Subheaders provide a great opportunity to add the keywords you want to target for your article. Just don’t slam a word into the subheader for the sake of it. Google uses them to understand content as a whole, not as a one-stop-shop for SEO ratings.
“We do use headings when it comes to search. But we use them to better understand the content on the pages.” — John Mueller, Google.
Aim for an organic implementation of your keywords that brings clarity and simplicity to your subheaders.
Complement your subheaders with icons and imagery
If you have more control over the formatting and design of your content, don’t be afraid to compliment your subheaders with icons and imagery for better effect. Attention spans are short, so shorten your message without diluting its message. Pictures are worth a thousand words, right?
Take one of Pfriem Family Brewers’s sales pages for example:
Disclaimer: I have no relationship or stake with Pfriem Family Brewers.
Notice the H1 heading at the top of the page. Short-form content paragraphs are then preceded by subheaders that give readers expectations on the content they are about to read, and icons that further accent and solidify the ideas they convey. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different font colors for subheaders.
Experiment, experiment, experiment
As a science fiction author, I am always looking for ways to improve the conversion of my landing pages, and getting readers to click my links when I send out emails. The more traffic I can drive to my storefront, the more sales I make in the end.
In many ways, experimenting can create risk. If you were using great copy to begin with, switching it up may create a temporary drop in sales or the actions you want potential customers to take if it’s part of a larger sales funnel. But that’s okay. The experience and ‘why’ behind understanding how the experimental changes failed is valuable to us. It helps us refine and better understand our business and offerings — and how our customers react.
Utilize A/B testing with your copy and experiment with different subheaders. As I mentioned above, keep winners and ditch the losers, just don’t be emotional about it. Stick to what works best for you, but don’t be afraid to experiment. For example, After adding subheaders to my book description of Star Exile: Singularity, I experience an 18% gain in sales from my marketing newsletter. That’s a big gain for something so simple. But it works. Further experimentation yielded mixed results, but I still make changes to my marketing copy and sales pages from time to time.
Get technical with your subheaders
Use a free tool like a headline analyzer when writing each of your subheaders. Using a tool like this as a guideline for writing better subheaders can be a great start, but often times subheaders that I have written with lower scores in this tool have performed better in the real world than some of their higher-scoring counterparts. In any case, this tool will help you learn some good techniques that you can use to write better titles and subheaders.
Look at what the competition is doing
As you focus on and improve on writing better subheaders for your content, don’t be afraid to explore what the competition is doing. Search for similar businesses that are in your industry and look at their websites, marketing emails, and sales pages. How are they utilizing subheaders, and what effect do those subheaders have on you as the reader?
Learning and mastering good subheaders will help you drive better sales and engagement with your writing. Like any valuable skill, practice is essential to reaping the benefits of the labor. As you improve, don’t be surprised to see better results from the writing you spin out into the world.