The headline is the single most important part of any marketing document, whether it is an email, sales letter, squeeze page or paid advertisement. The reason is because the headline is the first and only opportunity to capture the attention of a prospective customer.
If the headline fails to make an instant, immediate impression on the reader, they will read no further and are possibly lost to you forever.
The best headlines – those which grasp your visitor by the lapels, shake them up and refuse to let go – share three common traits. If your headlines always include these three qualities, a greater number of prospects can be persuaded to spend more time with your copy This will increase your chances of converting them into a long-term customer, which is the ultimate objective of any marketing document.
Clarity Is King
The first and most important quality of any great headline is that it must be understood immediately by anybody reading it. The more clarity a headline has, the more appealing it will be to page visitors.
If the headline is in any way ambiguous, confusing or does not provide a clear and concise message which can be grasped instantly, it will turn readers away immediately. Clear, easy to understand headlines should be as specific as possible.
Remember, those who land on your pages or are seeing your ads are seeking solutions and answers. The last thing they want to do is to spend more time trying to work out what is meant by an ambiguous or uncertain headline. Be as clear as you possibly can.
Headlines Have Two Parts
The most effective headlines have two parts: The headline itself and the sub-headline, also known as the “sub-head”. One way to think of it is like this: The headline is the bait that gets the prospect in the door and the sub-head is what you use to hook them in so they will keep reading.
A clear and concise headline is critical, but by itself is usually not enough to engage the reader fully. It needs help – in the form of a good, informative sub-head which boosts the clarity the reader gets from the headline.
The sub-head acts to reaffirm the reason why the reader landed on your page or looked at your ad in the first place. It should set the stage for the story your content is about to tell.
The Best Headlines Include Numbers
There is much research which proves that people using the Internet are much more likely to click through on a headline which includes a number than one which just includes words. This apparently has something to do with the way our minds are wired.
Numbers express certainty. They subconsciously tell the reader that the message expressed in the headline is based on substance and fact. Therefore, people seeking solutions or answers online are more attracted to headlines which include numbers than they are just to words.
The numbers you put in your headlines can include all kinds of figures, including percentages, the number of items on a list, time measurements and so on:
“3-Day Free Trial for All New Subscribers”
“Top 5 Ways to Shed Weight Fast”
“Increase Sales by 30% in 30 Days Using This Weird Trick”
The number will normally be in the main headline rather than the sub-head. It is, however, important that the information in the sub-head should support whatever number is included in the headline.
These three qualities are used so widely that headlines which do not include them are often perceived as jarring or off-putting – and often fail to convert. Successful marketers understand what works and what does not, so they gravitate toward the tried and true in order to maximize their results.
If headlines are clear and to the point and sub-headlines support the primary point of the main headline and numbers are included to give the headline substance and authority, conversion rates can be increased regardless of what type of marketing document you are creating.