Steal These 15 Proven Headline Formulas For Your Next Landing Page Or Blog Post

by 16 12/26/2011

Sure, writing great copy is an art.  But there is science to it as well.

There are proven formulas to writing copy.

It can take years of practice to be able to choose the perfect word, craft a compelling call to action, and deliver on your audience’s expectations.  Online, the barriers are even greater, as our instinctive “B.S. detectors” are always on high alert.  So what’s a content marketer to do?  A solid, curiosity-piquing headline for your sales letter or blog post can be just enough to propel your message forward.

But knowing why it works makes it much more effective.  Understanding why it works will give you the ability to select the right headline for the content you are producing.  And, it will also give you the ability to start mixing and matching the elements in the formulas below.  Understand why it works, and you will quickly become a master headline writer.

Here are 15 different examples of workable, proven headline formulas that have helped website owners in nearly every industry increase conversion rates.  Fill in the blanks with your own product or service and you’ll have an instant winner that’s sure to become a top performer in your website tests.

1 – X Lessons I Learned from ____________________

Why it works: The hidden truth about copywriting is that no one wants to be first.  Secretly, they might all think they do, but when it comes time to walk the walk, no one wants to try and fail, or try and look foolish.  If you can demonstrate several lessons you learned as a result of following someone or something, it gives readers a virtual roadmap to follow, making them more at ease and receptive to your suggestions.

2 – The Ultimate Guide to ______________________

Why it works:  This is a classic favorite that converts well time and time again because of the sheer amount of knowledge the headline promises.  Make sure you deliver.  If you’re going to write the ultimate guide to something, whether it’s Facebook, ridding your garden of aphids or buying a coffee maker, you’d better pull out all the stops and squeeze every ounce of know-how out of this post. In the past, these have been the posts that propelled average bloggers into the A-list spotlight.  When done right, they can make your traffic soar.

3 – How to Survive Your First __________________

Why it works:  Here again, we’re exploring the “no one wants to be first” fear that holds many people back from taking action.  Fear is a powerful motivator.  Rather than exploring the lessons you learned, this version can help readers understand what to expect when they follow your advice.  This type of headline is particularly effective on sites that deal with challenging roles we face such as caring for pets, maintaining our health, or being a mother.

4 – What (Group or Celebrity) Can Teach You About (Industry)

Why it works:  Sage advice can come from the unlikeliest of places.  What advice might the late Steve Jobs have about interior design, or what could zombies reveal about irresistible marketing ideas?  Match two unusual markets and you’re sure to boost clicks for the sheer curiosity of it all.  Your readers will be compelled to read to find out how you are going to connect these two unlikely subjects.  It’s interesting.

5 – Behind the Scenes of a ____________________

Why it works:  What could you reveal about a place, occupation, or showcase that others could learn from?  People are always fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes in some of their favorite niches, hobbies and websites. If you can show what “a day in the life” is like, it may inspire them to take action after reading.  The headline implies that you will get a unique view of something you are interested in.  The promise is that this will be something you haven’t seen or heard before.

6 – 9 Out of 10 (Group Members) Can’t/Don’t ____________. Are You One of Them?

Why it works: Numbers are powerful attention-getters, but only if written as numerals instead of words.  There is something mystical about numerals.  Our brains take longer to visually process words like “seven” and “ten” than 7 and 10, so this succinct headline gets right to the heart by making it as easy as possible for us to read and understand it.  For example, “9 out of 10 Forex Traders Don’t Make a Dime, Are You One of Them?” speaks to the people who are struggling, and then follows up with realistic steps they can follow to be more than just a statistic.

7 – Make Your First ($) Sale in Just (X) Hours  (Watch Below to See How!)

Why it works:  This headline is attractive to just about any buying market, especially if you can follow it up with live video-proof that shows the process being done.  With faster connections and always-on connectivity to the web through smart phones and the like, video blogging and marketing are increasingly being embraced by mainstream audiences. Use this to your advantage by demonstrating how anyone can follow your steps and earn their first sale.

8 – Are You Still Wasting Money on ______________ (Without Anything to Show for It?)

Why it works:  This flexible headline can fit a variety of industries, particularly if you’re showing your audience how to overcome a common problem such as losing weight, making money online, car repairs, health and beauty and so forth.  The headline implies a serious threat, wasting money.

9 – People Regularly Pay Me ($) for This Information – But You Can Have it FREE:

Why it works:  Everyone loves free – particularly when they feel they’re getting a better deal than someone who paid for it.  Conference and webinar speakers repackage their information constantly and use it as a giveaway for email list building.  What kind of insider information are people willing to pay you for, and how can you turn that into a subscriber magnet?

10 – How to Make ($) With Your ________________, Step-by-Step.

Why it works:  You’ll see this headline at work from the moment you browse the business aisle at your local bookstore.  Titles like “How to Make Millions with Your Product Idea” or “How to Make a Full-Time Income with Your Computer” still continue to sell strong because of their simple promise and hand-holding guidance.  The promise is similar to the “Ultimate Guide” headline above.  It implies a thorough guide to getting the benefit.

11 – How to Permanently Stop Your ________________, Even if You’ve Tried Everything!

Why it works:  Not just for the health industry, you can leverage this headline to fit anything from computer crashes to productivity issues.  The truth is, everyone wants a lasting fix to a common problem, and if you can deliver it, you’ll see your conversions hit the ceiling.  This headline speaks to those that are frustrated with the solutions they have tried.  The headline promises something new, make sure you deliver in the body.

12 – Is (Subject) a Scam?  Find Out If You’re Putting Your ___________ at Risk

Why it works:  No one wants to be associated with a scam, and on the web, forewarned is forearmed.  Some well-known internet marketers have found themselves or their products smeared by headlines like this, but if you can apply this headline to a particular type of product or industry (rather than a person), you’ll have a much easier time explaining the pros and cons to your audience rather than having to defend yourself from seething comments by the product creator!

13 – How Your ______________ is Ripping You Off – And What to Do About It Right Now.

Why it works:  This headline combines instigation with investigation and has been the source material for many a TV exploratory documentary.  If you’re able to spy a gaping hole in an industry or type of service provider, letting others know can prevent them from making the same money-wasting mistakes.

14 – Recently Downsized/Fired (Profession) Reveals the Dirty Little Secrets to __________.

Why it works:  Everybody loves a good revenge story – particularly if it gives them some insider benefits they may not have realized before.  One of the most provoking psychological tactics behind this type of headline is the question, “What do they know that I don’t?”

15 – X Little Known Factors That Could Affect Your _______________.

Why it works:  This is one of my personal favorites, but in order to make it truly work well for you, you’ll have to explore the real “little-known” areas that other articles or sales letters don’t cover.  That means digging a little deeper and doing more research, but the results can be well worth it.

Putting the Best Headlines to the Test

Try one or more of these headlines for your next sales letter, blog post or landing page and see for yourself how one simple change to your site can bring dramatic results.

About 

Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates with custom design, copywriting and website reviews.  Get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up by visiting iElectrify.com.

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16 COMMENTS

Simon

I agree that most of these headlines have made me click on them one way or another. So yeah, why not use one from time to time. However, I wouldn’t recommend using them too often. Many of these phrases are used extensively, especially in blogs and magazines in the webdesign area and I am getting sick of the 100482th article called “X ways you can to Y”. Hey, this is supposed to be a creative industry, right? So be creative!

December 28, 2011 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    @Simon — I couldn’t agree more Simon. The idea is not-so-much to use these formulas verbatim but to begin to understand why the formulas work. When we understand why the formula works we can set our minds in motion to craft a headline that is both creative and compelling.

    December 28, 2011 Reply

Sherice

Hi Simon – I can definitely see your point, but as Russ said, the idea is to “steal” these formulas and rework them to fit your niche so that they DON’T sound like the latest article in a web design magazine.

Supermarket tabloids have reworking headlines down to a fine art. But they continue to sell like hotcakes!

December 28, 2011 Reply

Simon

Hi guys. Sure, knowing how headlines work is essential and all these examples actually are good headlines. At the end, it is all about writing for your audience. Point taken :) btw, maybe you should change the font color in this comment area. It is barely visible, at least on my screen.

December 28, 2011 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    @Simon — Thanks for bringing this up Simon. I have updated the color — much darker now.

    December 28, 2011 Reply

Sherice

Don’t worry Simon, I’ve already let Russ know about the barely-visible comments, so hopefully he’s taking care of it soon :)

Appreciate your thoughts and insights!
Sherice

December 28, 2011 Reply

Awesome Websites

Thanks for distilling these. I’m thinking of maybe applying these one per month throughout 2012 on one of my blogs. Will let you know how it goes.

As an interesting aside, what do you think of applying these as email subject lines? They seem strong enough to act as some sort of lead in, and if one can carry through the curiosity factor, one can divert the recipient to a sales oriented landing page.

January 2, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    I like the idea of applying these to any situation where you need to use words to cause people to take action.

    January 2, 2012 Reply

Christian

Well, sure. All of these will work. They all represent the retail equivalent of beating a harp seal over the head with a giant club. But none will help you create a connection with your audience or cause someone to actually remember your brand. You may sell a few widgets, but you’ll also quickly start to blend into the background. Think about it. Just read through that batch of ads that show up on your doorstep a few times a week. Eyewash. Most using one of these headlines (or a variation) to grab your attention – and every brand in there has trained you to expect to get their services for a discount. Which is why you have to stand for something. You have to find a reason to be memorable and valuable, and communicate that, too. In the mean time, absolutely, go ahead and use these. Yes, they will work. They’ll get people to come in for a trial, maybe. And buy a pizza, get a shirt laundered or get their teeth whitened, once. But then, start working on evolving. Think long term. What do you stand for? Tell your customers that! And become important to them.

January 13, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    @Christian — Wow! Great comment Christian! Thanks for your thoughts!

    January 16, 2012 Reply

Sherice Jacob

Hi Christian,

Haha, nice analogy! You’re absolutely right — these are only designed to give people a starting point to work from. Business owners need to make a connection with their audience in order to get anywhere — especially online. But I recommended these headlines to give people a writing jump-start.

Appreciate your insights!

January 14, 2012 Reply


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