10 Simple Ideas for Headlines in Marketing Copy

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A typewriter (Source: Unsplash)

A headline is probably one of the most important parts in a marketing text. It serves to attract attention and to state what your copy is all about. In this article, I will share some fill-in-the-blank formulas to create both informative and interesting headlines.

  1. ____or ____? Quote a question that your potential customers might have on their mind. Research for appropriate questions in forums or blogs around your topic.
    Example: Online or printed ads? Find out the best way to promote your business locally.
  2. A success study:____.  Come up with a case study example on how your product or service helped somebody to succeed.
    Example: A success study: How we attracted 100 customers in one week using Facebook ads.
  3. (Undesired state) vs. (desired state): (number) main differences. Compare something that you customers try to avoid with something they aspire to do or to be.
    Example: Frustrated Facebook advertisers vs. successful Facebook advertisers: 3 main differences.
  4. What to do when____. Touch upon fears or difficult situations your audience might experience.
    Example: What to do when your website visitors do not convert.
  5. ___ laws. This headline is suitable if your audience are beginners in the topic you describe. It highlights the importance of what you have to say.
    Example: Five laws in online advertising.
  6. How to make ____ work.  Come up with a relative disadvantage your potential customers might have. They will be curios how they can actually profit from it.
    Example: How to make your limited marketing budget work for you: 5 simple tips.
  7. ____myth. Mention something that is talked about and that your audience might believe in. They will be surprised and curious to learn why it may be a myth.
    Example: Google ads myth: why it doesn’t always work.
  8. (Number) secrets of ____. Imply that the information you share is not available everywhere. This will spark additional interest in your content.
    Example: 5 secrets of online advertising.
  9. (Maximum benefit) at (minimum expense). Think of something that contains a contrast and is hard to believe. It will automatically attract attention of the target customers.
    Example: How to get 100 new customers in 3 days: effective use of online advertising.
  10. (Number) common mistakes in ____.  Your readers will probably ask themselves if they are also making these mistakes and will be more likely to read on.
    Example: Three common beginner mistakes when advertising on Facebook.

Remember that your headlines are a promise that your marketing copy should fulfill, so never use them as a “clickbait”. In other words, make sure that your copy answers the question or the claim stated in the headline. In addition, include the most significant information first, otherwise your visitors might leave rather quickly.

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How to write for the online reader

How to write online
A laptop (Source: Unsplash)

In this article I would like to talk about how people usually read online and how it will affect your writing.

  • People seldom read for pleasure on the Internet. Most of the time they look for particular information or research on a subject.

Use headlines to give a precise idea about the content you offer. Do not write headlines in obscure style, hoping that the reader will be intrigued by it. Most of the time, if users see no direct relevance to their search in the headline, they hit the “back” button.

  • People tend to scan rather than read, which means that they read less attentively. They also sometimes skip sections of text.

Use subheading as signposts to help your readers find better orientation in your content. Structure your text clearly: include one idea per paragraph and start your paragraph with this key idea. Use bulleted or numbered lists, where appropriate. Make sure to adjust the anchor text of your links: “learn more about our program” instead of “click here”.  Use images that support the main idea of your text and do not forget about captions, as well as <alt> and <title> tags.

  • Users generally prefer informal, easy-to-read texts

Write in shorter sentences and paragraphs. Use active voice instead of passive constructions. Apply personal pronouns instead of naming yourself or the user (“we” instead of “our company”, “you” instead of “the reader”).

  • Readers respect authoritative sources and look for supportive data

Do not hesitate to quote other sites in your content, as long as they have authority and credibility. Also, avoid exaggerated language and try to convince readers based on facts about your products or services. Include any important details or technical data, but place them in separate sections on your website, not on the main page. If you link to documents for download, mention the format and the size of the file.

  • Users expect up-to-date content

Set up “an expiry date” for every piece of content you produce, either in your CMS system  or in your editorial calendar. Some articles will have longer “life” than others (food recipes vs live-ticker of a football match).  Make sure to review and update the articles regularly. Also, periodically curate and improve the existing content, especially on pages with higher bounce rates. 

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