The Headline Writer’s Laws of Attractions

By: Christine Hogg Dec 20, 2016

Headline writing is an artform. But it’s also an important element of the copywriting realm that many people don’t think twice about. Remember the good old days of writing a university paper and slapping a title on that had enough to do with your topic for a solid B+? If you really wanted that A, you might have even included a “professional” approach with a colon (Selling Your Car: The Right Way) to stand out from the crowd. If this is how you currently title your auto blogs or web pages, it’s time to stop. Right now.

The key to writing a catchy headline is the difference between people actually reading your copy versus skimming the first few lines (or worse, ignoring it completely). Consider this. When you pick up your morning newspaper, do your eyes zoom in straight for the body of text, or do they jump to the bolded words at the top? The structure of your headlines and your attention to the craft is critical to the copy your business produces. If your headlines suck, even if your content is juicy and knowledgeable, nobody will read it. What’s worse, is your inventory will sit dormant and go stale because nobody will visit your site (are you scared yet?). An attention-grabbing headline is your saving grace because that’s what will convert your audience and ultimately sell your products.

So, how do you write a killer headline?

It’s not as hard as it looks, but it definitely takes practice. The secret to creating engaging, crisp, and convincing headlines is to know your copy inside and out. After you’re informed on everything the article or content snippet advertises, put your thinking cap on and get to work.

Law No. 1: Be a Tease

The internet provides us with millions of clickbait articles, listicles, infotainment and real news to the point that it might seem you can’t go 5 seconds without seeing another “How To” or “Why You” or “Top 5” article in your social network. With so much similar content, it’s critical to really find a unique angle that’s hiding within your copy and write a headline that both identifies what the copy is about, but also implies a strong CTA. The sense of urgency should be there too as a means to lend exclusivity to your brand. If your headline looks and sounds like everyone else’s, why should readers stick around? For example rather than writing “The Best Used Cars”, why not try “The Top 5 Used Cars You Need To Test Drive in 2017”. See the difference? The first one tells us what many of us might already know, or not care about. The second invites us to book a test drive and also stirs up a little bit of curiosity from the reader which leaves them wanting more.

Law No. 2: Get Some Action

Never let your headline sit on the page for the sake of acting as a title. If you’re going to do that, it’s best to not write anything! Headlines are essentially your guiding CTA which encourage the reader to learn more through reading the copy below the headline. The headline should be useful and outline some sort of benefit. Consider the following examples: “Custom Truck Detailing” vs. “Build Your Next Custom Truck In Less Than a Day”. If you were the consumer, it’s obvious which one sounds more fun and engaging. Never write a headline simply as a means to title a page. By doing that, you’re missing out on a bunch of great new leads and interested consumers who could bring in a ton of new web traffic and business for your company.

Law No. 3: Let’s Get Technical

Headline writing in the digital age has never been more challenging. The way we search for products online is changing and has a lot to do with SEO strategy. Search engines analyze content and context, location services and keywords in order to deliver consumers with the closest match to what they’re looking for. With that being said, you must write your headlines with this in mind. What are your customers looking for? Where are they located? It’s important to do your homework on your customers and analyze how they interact with your website. Once you have that down, you have a better idea of how to write for your audience. These insights will ultimately drive traffic, increase new leads and grow your business. Conduct SEO strategies to identify keyword opportunities that can be incorporated into your headlines and you’ll be on your way to writing a killer headline in no time.

Headline writing is no easy task. But, with the right balance of creativity, a sense of urgency, emotional leverage over your customers and maybe a cup of coffee or two, your online copy will have even the pickiest readers following along. And if you're still not confident in getting it right, our content marketing team at FlexDealer is ready to help. 

Christine Hogg is a deadline driven content writer for FlexDealer who comes armed with an Honours B.A in Journalism. When she’s not drinking lattes and typing away furiously at the keyboard, you can find her practicing photography, enjoying Toronto’s downtown core, or looking for the best all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant.