You have mere seconds at most.
Meaning once someone arrives at your copy, the opening headline is the first thing that your reader will look at, and if it isn’t attention-grabbing, then they’ll just discard it, throw it away or leave.
This figure will change with time, but recent statistics show that if you don’t capture people’s attention within roughly 10 seconds (give or take), you’ve likely lost them.
In today’s modern ‘tech orientated instant satisfaction’ lifestyle that number is only going to decrease.
People want to go from their current point A (where they are now) to point B (where your brand/product/service offers to take them) they just want to do it with minimal effort and the promise of you removing their pains and maximising their pleasures along the way.
Get Them Hooked
Simple enough, right?
If you struggle to do this keep in mind that the rest of the text is to persuade them of your intentions to help, the headline though is just to get them to break the 10-second mark and continue reading. That is the only purpose of the headline.
You need to get attention long enough to help them realise that you have something that they are in fact very interested in, they just don’t know it yet. This is called the Zeigarnik Effect. Basically, it’s what is used in the TV shows you just can’t stop watching and the books that make you feel like you need to read “just one more chapter” or you’ll explode (before you know it, it’s 3 am, and you’re under your bedsheets with a flashlight).
This is one of the single most powerful techniques you can use in writing. Any writing. Because even copywriting is a story. Get their attention and make the reader feel that they nearly can’t control their need to know more.
The Headline Formula
One of the simplest and best ways to do this is by copying the headline formulas that work. The following is my favourite and it goes like this …
Desired End Result + Measurable promise + added value + limited risk
If that’s a little confusing don’t worry because here are a few examples:
“Atlanta’s healthiest gourmet pizzas delivered in just 20 mins with a smile or it’s free.”
Yeah, the smile is the service guarantee. It is added value. It can be just that simple.
“How to pick up the hottest girl at the bar (and her friend) every single time without fail and with no strings attached.”
I don’t know about you, but there was a time in my life that I’d certainly read that book.
“Rank your business number one on google in just 24 hours and tap into a waterfall of customers without spending a dime.”
You get the point. This brings me to the next benefit of a good headline. You see, a good headline will have the above formula, but a great headline will do something else too. And those things are:
Intrigue, Clarity, and Choice
Your headline should make the reader feel like you hold the new information they need to take them from their current point A to their desired point B. They should become intrigued by your offer even though they don’t know what it is yet because your headline just whets their appetite to know more.
Even though you might not give away everything in your headline you want what you are saying to be clear and concise. If they don’t understand what you’re getting at, it doesn’t matter if it’s the right person reading it and you can solve every problem they have ever had since they were 4, they’re not going to bother reading on, and that would be a ‘bad news bear’ situation.
Let’s assume that your headline is clear to the reader, and they understand the point of its message, but they couldn’t care less. That’s actually a good thing. You don’t want to focus on convincing those people you can’t help or those that do not require it. That’s just evil. Marketing is like any other tool. When used carefully, and for the greater good, it can be very powerful.
Hopefully, you wouldn’t pitch someone a marketing package they don’t need it’s a waste of your time and their money. So spend your time wisely. The people that don’t need what you’re offering, you want them to leave, or you want to offer them something that they do want. It’s that simple. Focus on the people with pain or desire you can help, don’t invent the need.