This is part 5 of 9 in our series: 9 Proven Techniques for Writing Headlines that Convert.
Over the past few weeks, we explored several tips on how to write headlines that work. Of course, by "work", we ultimately mean convert. A short headline that doesn't sell isn't worthwhile; a pithy headline that does more with less (outperforming all others) is the goal.
By now, you probably have several headlines ready to test. That's great! But, there's a sanity check that can save you a lot of heartache (and expense) from testing the wrong headline.
What's the secret? Ask the following questions:
- Would you say the headline to live person? In a coffee shop? In a client meeting?
- Are you assuming people have domain knowledge about the subject when, in reality, they may not?
- Will people easily understand your offering and how it benefits them? Can this be conveyed in less than a second?
If there is even a slight hesitation in answering any of these questions, you must re-write your headline.
This test helps you avoid cute and clever headlines that are otherwise meaningless. Below are some examples (sadly, not everyone gets it right):
- "We Help You In 100 Different Ways Every Day" (Toyota)
- "Travel Should Take You Places" (Hilton Hotels)
- "Look Again" (Holiday Inn)
- "Live Your Life" (American Eagle)
- "You Got People" (H&R Block)
These type of headlines are often used by big brands and written by brand marketers in a board room rather than direct response marketers. The brand marketers do this in the name of "creativity" and "originality". But, it comes at the expense of missing your target audience completely.
A headline must match your prospects' world-view - if it doesn't, you fail before even getting started.
Here's what Rosser Reeves, one of the direct response marketing legends, says about creativity:
"If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative. Do you want fine writing? Do you want a masterpiece? Or, do you want to see the god-damned sales curve to move up?"
The surest way to make the sales curve move up is to use tried-and-true principles.
Here's what Mozart himself said about originality:
"I never made the slightest effort to compose anything original."
The best copywriters convey an "I am talking to you one-on-one" tone in their writing. They understand that, to persuade a thousand people, the copy needs to touch each person on a personal level. If you write to the masses, you invariably produce weaker copy. And, it'll hurt sales, too.
So, it's time to vet those headlines in the wild. Talk to your friends and family or, better yet, people in your target market. For a few dollars, you can even start split testing headlines via Google AdWords to see which ones perform best.
Let us know what you find in the comments below - the results may shock you.
This post is by Jasper Kuria at the Conversion Wizards. Got a question? Please write a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org (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.