Copyright © 2005 by Bruce Carlson
The single most important element of your website's copy is headline. Take away practically everything else and you can still manage a sale (if headline's good enough and you have a strong enough call to action). But take away headline and your chances for any success are about zero.
Why is this?
Simply put, your headline is magnet for your copy. It's “door” through which people enter your world of persuasion. Make it appealing enough and theyll step through door. Fail to make it appealing and they'll walk on by.
If you want to pull in customers, you need to be able to write good headlines. And in order to write good headlines, you need to understand a few fundamental principles of craft. Here are 3 quick tips for writing better headlines for your website. Take these to heart and you'll find writing headlines a lot less painful.
1. Understand true purpose of a headline
First off, you need to have a clear understanding of what your headline is doing there. From all confusion I see on websites, it's safe to say that many people don't understand purpose of having a headline up there in first place.
So what is purpose of a headline?
Your headline's basic purpose is to get reader interested enough to continue reading.
Not to make sale. Not to be clever or artistic. Not to offer a riddle for them to solve.
It's just to get them into your copy so they'll read next thing after your headline!
Think of your headline as first step in a journey. Taking a journey is a pretty major thing. People don't do it lightly. They have to genuinely believe they'll get something worthwhile out of reading your copy before they'll take plunge.
Readers come in all shapes and sizes, since they're people plain and simple, after all. But in general, readers of your copy have certain basic characteristics. A big one for your website copy's purposes is “skimmer” mentality.
Most people are “skimmers”. I'm sure you skim a lot yourself. I know I do regularly. Very few of us are willing to sit down and read every word in every ad or newspaper story or magazine article just for fun of it. So we glance at headline quickly and decide in a split second whether or not we're going to continue reading. If it's compelling enough and clear enough, we'll read more.
Assume that every person who comes to your website will only skim your headline. Even if your reader is most perfect prospect you could possibly find for your product or service, they'll most likely still skim read your headline.
So you need to work out specific strategies and tactics for getting these skimmers' attention.
2. Get their attention and target a strong emotion
There are three standard ways to get attention with your headline. These have been proven by copywriters for many decades now.
In their order of effectiveness they are:
1. Go after your prospect's self-interest 2. Offer your prospect news 3. Try to arouse your prospect's curiosity
Appealing to your prospect's self-interest is most effective single method you can use to get their attention. Offer reader something they want and can get from you -- a direct benefit. Here are two simple, generic examples of self-interest direct benefit headlines: