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9 Techniques for Writing Headlines that Convert - Part 2 of 9


This is part 2 of 9 in our series: 9 Proven Techniques for Writing Headlines that Convert.

The "Four U's Technique" is perhaps the most cited but least used (in practice) method. In this method, you simply come up with a statement that meets the following criteria:

  • Ultra-Specific
  • Useful
  • Urgent
  • Unique

If you search for landing page headlines, online/print ads, odds are that you won't find one that has all four elements.

Yes, having all of these elements imposes constraints. In many ways, it is like the perfect weight loss or financial plan that's hard to follow.

But, when it works, it really works. We tested it on our own pages and pulled successful examples from the web.

Let's take a closer look.

Useful

The Useful element, in short, must be how you satisfy readers' WIIFM Filter ("What’s In It For Me?"). The more a prospect perceives personal gain after reading your headline, the more time they will spend on your landing page and the higher the likelihood of a conversion.

Ultra-Specific

If you want to be believable, embrace specificity over generality . We verified this time and again in our own A/B split tests.

Of the two headlines below, the first wildly outperforms the second for email opt-ins.

  • "We Help Companies Grows Sales by 32.4% (on avg) in 6-12 Weeks"
  • "We Help Companies Grows Sales 20% — 30% in 6-12 Weeks"

In a similar way, the folks at Ivory discovered that it's better to state their product is "99.4% pure" instead of "100% pure". Who knew?

Ivory

[Image courtesy of Amazon]

In the early 2000s, internet marketer Yanik Silver created an offer called "33 Days to Online Profits". It did extremely well.

But, I doubt it would have done as well if it were called "30 Days To Online Profits". After all, 33 is more specific than 30.

33 Days to Online Profits

[Image courtesy of Yaniv Silver]

Of course, some people go overboard with specificity. Most notably, legendary copywriter Dan Kennedy and his disciples who write headlines like this:

"How 32,811 small business owners increased their profits on average $6,947.11 by attending my seminar at the location, Latitude 47.6080 and Longitude -122.33516"

Okay, I exaggerated a little but, you get the point. The rationale for doing this is that there is a certain type of prospect (the analytical) for whom this headline is golden.

These folks make up 25% of the population and, since you do not have a live sales person to tailor the message to the personality type, the headline and landing page should include elements that appeal to every type of prospect.

Dan Kennedy headlines tend to be like Nigerian Bollywood movie titles: they give away the entire plot in the title. For example:

"The Story of The Guy who dated his mother’s cousin at 3pm on a Sunday in Abuja, Ate a Plate of Yam Fufu and Okra soup and then died."

Yikes! He left nothing on the table. But, somehow, you'd still watch it.

Urgent

Urgency is the toughest thing to get right in a headline. The headline's only job is to get the person to read the rest of the landing page; whereas the landing page's job is to sell and close.

With urgency, you try to close a sale before building desire. You must first build desire by articulating the benefits of your offer on the landing page. It's a lot like dating.

It's important to remember that urgency only works when the offer is well known to the prospects. For example:

"Your Last Chance to Get Microsoft Office 365 at 30% OFF. Act NOW. Offer Ends 11:59am 3/30/2016"

Unique

The first quality of a good headline is it should be a "stopper" — it should stop the prospect dead in their tracks and make them pay attention!

You are far more likely to succeed at building a "stopper" by being unique over just rehashing the familiar. Nobody wants that!

To be unique, you must have a stronger underlying value proposition. The theory behind value proposition holds that the two most important elements of an offer are appeal and exclusivity. And, the attractiveness of your offer's value proposition is vastly diluted by the number of similar competing options or alternatives.

Where's the Exclusivity

[Image courtesy of Dr. Flint McLaughlin of MECLABS]

We searched and found that one of the most successful unique headlines is by Domino's Pizza:

“Fresh, Hot Pizza Delivered To You In 30 Minutes Or Less Or Your Money Back”

How great is that? It's clear, concise, measurable, and says a lot about their brand.

Dominos

[Image courtesy of Groupon]

Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, re-imagined the delivery pizza market. This example shows that the uniqueness of a headline works best when it isn't simply a bolt-on addition but, rather, a quality of the underlying value proposition.

Tom "invented a new insulated pizza box to improve delivery. The new box, unlike its chipboard predecessors, could be stacked without crushing the pizzas inside - permitting more pizzas per trip and keeping them warm until they arrived." Brilliant!

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This post is by Jasper Kuria at the Conversion Wizards. Got a question? Please write a comment below or email blog+conversionwizards@mouseflow.com (we are also knowledgeable on the following subjects: Web Analytics, Tagging, PPC, SEM, Email Marketing.

And, stay tuned for the next posts in this series on crafting powerful headlines. You won't want to miss it.


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