Attention Small Business Owners: Headlines are everything! Whether you’re mailing a sales letter, placing a yellow page ad, or trying to sell through your web site, you need a compelling, grab-your-reader-by-the-lapels headline.
Now, if I told you everything you needed to know about writing headlines, this article would be about 187 pages long.
However, here are some basic tips for writing an effective headline for your web site:
1. Target your audience.
If you’re trying to sell to bass fishermen, don’t have a headline that says “Attention fishermen.”
Try “Attention Bass Fishermen.”
Even better would be “Attention New Jersey Bass Fishermen”
And even better yet: “Attention New Jersey Bass Fishermen! If you’re over 65 years old and you love fishing in the Delaney River…”
And so on. The more specific your headline is, the more likely that the right people will read it – and respond to it.
2. Don’t try to be cute or clever.
Avoid puns at all cost. Your headline should serve only one purpose: to identify people who are interested in your product or service – and to induce those people to read the rest of your site.
3. Have a news slant.
For instance, “Local Doctor Introduces Pillow That Increases Circulation.” Read your local newspaper for inspiration.
4. Include the main benefit of your product or service in your headline.
Once you have specifically identified your target audience, you need to let them know exactly what benefit they will gain from buying your product or service.
5. Make your headline stand out.
Use a font that is larger than your main text. Use color that makes the words in your headline stand out. You will want to experiment with this, however – there is a fine line between standing out and being obnoxious.
6. Be concise.
There has been an ugly epidemic recently of headlines on the Internet that are 30, 40, even 70 words long. This defeats the purpose of having a headline. Instead, shoot for around 12 to 15 tightly crafted words that will lead the reader directly into the rest of your site.
7. Be truthful.
Although none of your web content should ever be misleading – it’s more profitable long term to sell a good product honestly – it is particularly important that your headline is not deceiving. Don’t say “Sexy, Sexy, Sexy” if you are selling Organic Mouthwash or Automotive Supplies.
Look, the best way to learn how to write a great headline is to read as many great headlines as you can. Go to your bookstore and look at the women’s magazines. Read the National Enquirer. These people are pros at writing knock-em-dead headlines that make people sit up and take notice.
And with practice, your headlines will make your customers sit up and take notice too.