Headline Writing How-to!

80% of your success is in the Headline.

Yup. Bolded, underlined, AND italicized. This is a profound statement, yes, but not exaggerated. Your headline has to be good. It has to be. The Point of Action (POA), where the customer decides to either hit the Add to Cart button or the back button, is about 20% of the process.

So, what does that tell you?

If you answered, “I need to formulate a great headline,” then YES! Correct!

  • Headlines
  • Subject Lines
  • Calls to Action

What do they have in common? They are designed to encapsulate your message into a single sentence or phrase that delivers the “promise of the premise” (your premise) to your viewers.

The Headline is SO important, that everything else that follows is based on the effectiveness of it. With that much at stake, you can’t “experiment” with sub par language. That’s where we come in…

So, logic tells us that the best way to increase your conversion rates is to get people to consume your content. Your job is to get every one of your viewers to an area where they want to be taught by you, because you are an expert in your field, right? This place is where they really start to understand your authority. The challenge is to get them to consume it. You have an 80% greater chance of that happening if you write a provocative headline.

Let’s talk about CAFA:

  1. The headline is where you pique the Curiosity (notice this does NOT say Sensationalism. It is an important distinction).
  2. Attention is the transition between curiosity and fascination and requires time.
  3. The Fascination is when you’re teaching.
  4. You ask the viewer to take Action (POA), once you’ve had the opportunity to fascinate them.

Think of headlines in terms of social media….

Twitter – You live and die in 140 characters or less.

Facebook – The first two sentences decide if anyone reads the third.

Video – You have 8-15 seconds to capture their curiosity.

Let’s be really real. Really…. You’re going to need headlines, subject lines, and calls to action in a variety of different scenarios. Just a few examples are: Paid ads, retargeting ads, email campaigns, landing pages, Facebook pages, Pinterest,  and Twitter.

The point? You need A LOT of headlines. So, you need a fast, effective process to create them in such a way that they are meaningful to your work.

You Do NOT have to have a degree in Creative Writing, or become a self taught expert in it, either. All you need is our mad libs version of headline creation. This is one of the few times in life that it’s totally ok to cheat.

Some of the best headlines defy conventional wisdom yet remain truthful. It’s a really tall order, yes.

So, keep these three thoughts in mind:

  1. Headline creation is an uber-important part of your business.
  2. You’re going to do it a lot.
  3. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you write one.

You don’t even have to go out and find a good template, because we already have quality, real world, proven ones for you. You can TEST different versions of each of these, then talk about those tests as content! Feel free to download it, print it, even hang it up in your sight line so you never have to struggle with Headline writing again.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the best options:

  • Incredibly Good without Incredibly Bad – It is based on something called juxtaposition (how positioning of one image or word affects the response to the images or words next to it) and is the most basic headline you can write. But, basic can be bursting with conversion juice. Your job it to juxtapose two very different and sometimes conflicting ideas. Because of this, you mustn’t use it recklessly or you’ll find yourself sounding “hypey”. The more detail, the better. So, do NOT use this: How to lose weight without exercise. Instead, USE this:
    • How to reduce your body fat percentage by four points eating delicious chocolate cheesecake. See the difference?
  • How [Premise] got me an [Awesome Outcome] – A PREMISE is a technique, style, strategy, tactic, formula, or series of ingredients, etc. An AWESOME OUTCOME is not a feature, so be sure you don’t treat it like one. It is a benefit that happens to the customer after successful use. The awesome outcome is what life is like after solving the problem, not just solving the problem. We call this, “The benefit of the benefit”. Learn it my lovely people. It is SO important.
    • When I ate massive amounts of rich, delicious, simple to make foods, I lost 18 points in 29 days!
  • Are you [In this kind of pain or anxiety?] – In this context, never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer. This headline is specifically meant to anticipate what’s happening to our prospect so you can express empathy. If they’re answer is “yes”, then you just got yourself a qualified lead. The more specific you are, the better. So, DO NOT ask: Do you have trouble with the IRS? Instead, ASK:
    • Are your tax returns going to throw up red flags and cause an audit? Are you SURE?
  • How I [Achieved an Awesome Outcome] [by overcoming a massive disadvantage] – This is called The Hero’s Journey. You want to let other people know that they can have their desired outcome even if it seems like they are entrenched in an impossible situation. This is where an “incongruent juxtaposition” comes in handy. It makes the prospect say, “WHAAA?”, and piques their curiosity.
    • How I earned a 735 credit score with 2 Tax Liens on my Credit Report!
  • How To [Live the Promise] starting with [A Low Magnitude Change, Activity, or Situation] – We call this “living in the promised land” where it’s all awesome, all the time, and a place where you want to exist. A low magnitude change is incremental, doesn’t require a ton of energy, bravery, or cash. This is the template you’ll see being used quite a bit in the dating industry and infomercials.
    • How to Buy an Apartment Building for less than the cost of one unit’s monthly rent
  • For the [Prospect in Pain] How to [Live the Promise] starting with [A Low Magnitude Change, Activity, or Situation] – This is a more complex headline message that may not be a good fit for an ad or subject line because of it’s girth. It’s great for targeting very specific audiences. Premium audiences, if you will.
    • For the Busy Mom: How to quickly cook healthy meals your children will love without ever turning on the oven.
  • If You [Can/Are/Have] then You Can [Have an Awesome Outcome] – Do not generalize or try to stretch the bounds of reality, or this headline will not work. It is designed to be a bit ambiguous, but speaking to a specific audience. “Specifically ambiguous”… huh. Yeah, that sounds weird, but it’s actually spot on.
    • If you suffer from Chocolate Cravings, you can Sleep Better and Lose Ugly Fat starting tomorrow!
  • {Secrets/Tricks/ Strategies/ Techniques/ Systems} of a {Prospect who is living the Promise] – Everybody loves to model success. No one wants to reinvent the wheel, so let them model a success story instead. This is another example of a headline that is popular for infomercials, health gurus, beauty products, etc.
    • The Daily Rituals of The Healthiest, Most Attractive People in the World.
  • [WARNING/Alert/ Attention/Be Advised] [A Specific Kind of Prospect] will [Experience/Become] [A Situation even MORE painful than the one they are currently in] – This is dire to the prospect. Notice, you don’t say WHY their situation could become more painful, only that it could. Remember CAFA. This is catching their Curiosity, then the WHY only comes once you have their Attention.
    • Warning: If you are the only member of your LLC, you might as well hand over the keys of your bank account, family home, and children’s college fund.
  • [Give Me/Show Me] [A Situation/Amount of Activity] and I’ll [Deliver You to the Promise Land/Prevent You From Experiencing More Pain] – This serves to help set expectations to qualified customers. Not a qualified customer base? Then, its not the best option to use.
    • Give me 18 minutes and I’ll show you how to never pay more than 30 cents per visitor again
  • {Number or Statistics] of a [Type of Prospect] are [Now Living in the Promise Land] [despite] [An Initial Negative Reaction to the Premise] – Uber specific. Make sure you understand the importance of this. It is okay to show skepticism in this headline, but make sure it is not incongruent with your prospects’ core beliefs.
    • 19,231 with Cholesterol higher than 300 eliminated their heart disease risk despite scoffing at the idea of eating MORE fat every day.
  • [Number] of ways to [Reach the Shore of the Promise Land] while [not increasing pain/effort/anxiety/ loss]
    • 22 ways to instantly triple each of your employees daily output while maintaining their current salary level

Don’t forget these important rules.Lastly, remember the RULES! No hype, no hyperbole, substantiate your claims, and always, always, always, always TEST.

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