If you’re on the hunt for an amazing headline for your next sales page, check out Perry Marshall’s article about drawing swipes from women’s magazines, here.
They provide a great starting point, but…
If you rely solely on a formula to provide you with killer conversions, you’ll probably spend 30 seconds on your headline and 5 hours on the rest of your copy.
You’ll upload your page and wait for the sales to roll in…
But they won’t…
Unless you’re carrying a four leaf clover, you’ll probably watch as your valuable prospects bounce faster than a tennis ball off of Roger Federer’s racket.
Why doesn’t Cosmo’s “How to Lock Him Down With These Sexy Bedroom Moves” also work for…
“How to Make Six Figures with These Five Blogging Tips?”
They’re basically the same, right?
Sure, they’re built on the same frame, but that frame is only a small portion of what’s necessary to produce amazing conversions.
Think of it this way…
When a contractor builds a home, he doesn’t just frame the walls and let the new tenants move in.
He’s got to put up the drywall, add the electrical fixtures, lay the carpet and hardwood flooring, install the cabinets, etc…
It’s the details that turn a bunch of boards into a comfortable home.
So don’t just rely on a pre-fab framework to make your prospects click ‘buy now.’ Keep reading this article to learn how to get the details right, so that you can craft headlines that will truly compel your prospects to keep reading.
If you get this wrong, the rest of your copy won’t matter…
I suppose if you’re going to spend the next five minutes of your life learning how to write compelling headlines, you ought to know why a compelling headline matters in the first place.
In Joanna Wiebe’s groundbreaking book, CopyHackers, she recommends spending 2/3 of all of your copywriting time on the headline.
Because, on average, 80% of prospects will read your headline and only 20% will keep reading beyond that.
So… yeah… the few words at the top of your page are literally 4 times more important than the thousands of words that come after it.
Your headline is a first impression. It’s sole purpose is to stop a reader in their tracks and make them keep reading. If you can’t do that, you’ll never achieve the conversion rates that you need to make money.
If you want to turn a pre-crafted formula into a powerful headline, you need to know your audience…
Copywriting greats have written thousands of pages on how to identify, and target, your specific audience. Synthesizing it all into one short article would be impossible. But, once you’ve decided on a formula for your headline, you’ll need to pin down at least two things about your prospects before you can fill in the blanks.
Step 1: Take Their Temperature
Regardless of the product or solution that you’re selling, you need to know how ready your prospect will be to buy.
Examine your most likely prospect on a continuum between hot and cold.
If your prospects are hot, they’re more than likely ready to make a purchase. They just need to be convinced that your solution is the BEST solution to their problem.
Hot prospects tend to respond best to…
- Direct calls to action that lay out exactly how to start receiving the benefit that you’re selling.
- Unique value propositions that illustrate why YOUR product is better than the competition.
- Guarantees that eliminate the risk of purchasing your product or testing your solution.
- Specific phrases that highlight their pain points and provide a unique solution.
- Competitive pricing that gives them an immediate financial incentive to choose your product.
- Headlines that manage their objections.
If you’re selling primarily to a hot prospect, don’t waste time with unnecessary fluff. Use your headline to convert your prospect before they have time to move on to your competition.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have cold prospects. Cold prospects don’t yet know that they need your product or solution. In fact, they probably don’t even know that such a solution exists.
Consequently, cold prospects respond best to…
- An intriguing “almost unbelievable” promise or claim that they can’t help but read more about.
- Unexpected language, analogies, or examples.
- Visceral imagery that plays on common human emotions such as fear, greed, or lust.
- Teasers that awake curiosity without providing immediate answers.
If you’re writing a headline for a cold audience, you have your work cut out for you. Instead of simply convincing your prospect that you have the best solution to their problem, you have to convince your prospect that they have a problem in the first place. But there’s an upside. If YOU manage to convince them that they have a problem, they’re much more likely to turn to YOU for a solution.
Step 2: Speak Their Language
Once you’ve taken a broad look at your prospects and determined whether they’re already primed to buy, you’ll need to look more specifically at the exact wording that will appeal to your ideal customer.
To understand why this is essential, let me use one of Perry Marshall’s formulas as an example.
Say you’re marketing a 3 week fitness program for college age males who want to get shredded for the summer.
If you don’t consider your audience, you might write something like…
“Get Fit Before Summer: Powerful Diet and Exercise Tips that Will Make You Look Better Than Ever.”
But, if you learn the language of your target audience, you’ll probably end up with something like…
“Be the Biggest Bro on the Beach: Mass Building Foods and Ab-Shredding Exercises that Will Make Your Bi’s Bulge!”
At the most basic level, these two examples are exactly the same. They both offer a fitness program. They both highlight diet and exercise tips. They both promise to make you look better this summer. But which one will the target audience respond to?
When it comes to writing compelling headlines, the specific wording doesn’t just make A difference. It makes THE difference.
A formula is just a starting point…
Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t just throw out all of the headline swipes on the internet. Those formulas are tried and tested. There’s a reason why people use them over and over again. They provide the perfect starting point for killer conversions. But they are JUST a starting point.
You have to find the exact combination of words that will grab your prospect’s attention and compel them to keep reading. If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to making the sale.