Tim Ikels - Creator, Publisher, Marketer

Headline Formulas - For Sales Pages, Emails, And Other Marketing Material

This is just my personal collection or ‘swipe file’ of headline formulas.

General Thoughts

Headlines always offer a compelling reward by refering back to the 4U approach taught by AWAI:

Our headlines must:

The 80/20 Rule Of Headlines

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will go on to read the content.

This is in a typical headline environment, such as a newspaper, magazine, or web page.

Headline Formulas

The working headline formulas are following…


[blank] Ways to [blank]

One of the best list structures, because it’s really a “how to…” headline enhanced by specificity that either impresses the prospective reader with how many tips you’ve got, or at minimum lets them know exactly what to expect.

Examples:


If You’re [blank], You Can [blank]

This headline addresses a particular type of person with the first blank, and the beneficial promise to that person in the content or body copy with the second.

Examples:


How [blank] Made Me [blank]

Use this structure when relating a personal story.

The key to the most effective use of this template is for the two blanks to dramatically contrast, so that the curiosity factor goes way up and people feel compelled to read more.

Examples:


Are You [blank]?

A nice use of the question headline, designed to catch attention with curiosity or a challenge to the reader.

Don’t be afraid to be bold with this one.

Examples:


Warning: [blank]

Starting a headline with the word warning will almost always catch attention, but it’s what you say next that will determine how well it works for your particular content.

Examples:


See How Easily You Can [desirable result]

We love quick and easy when it comes to learning something new or gaining some advantage.

Examples:


You Don’t Have to Be [something challenging] to be [desired result]

People almost always have preconceived notions about things, and this can be a barrier to taking action.

Remove the barrier that stands between them and the desired result with your headline, and people will flock to read what you have to say.

Examples:


Do You Make These Mistakes?

This is always a powerful attention grabber, since no one likes to make mistakes.

If you’ve targeted your content well for your intended audience, helping people avoid common mistakes is a sure-fire winner with this type of headline.


See How Easily You Can [desirable result]

We love quick and easy when it comes to learning something new or gaining some advantage.

Examples:


The Lazy [blank’s] Way to [blank]

This headline has always worked well with time-pressured people, and that’s certainly true for most people today.

No one likes to think of themselves as lazy, but everyone likes to save time and effort.

Examples:


Give Me [short time period] and I’ll Give You [blank]

This headline promises a strong benefit to the reader, like all good headlines do.

But this one is especially effective because it promises to deliver in a very short time period.

Examples:


The Secret of [blank]

This one is used quite a bit, but that’s because it works.

Share insider knowledge and translate it into a benefit for the reader.

Examples:


Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance / without something undesirable]

The is the classic “have your cake and eat it too” headline - and who doesn’t like that?

Examples:


What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]

Big curiosity draw with this type of headline, and it acts almost as a challenge to the reader to go ahead and see if they are missing something.

Examples:


How to [blank]

Appeal to the “how-to” instinct.

The how-to headline appeals to the need most of us have to improve ourselves or our lives in some way.

The secret here is to focus on a need or want and promise to fulfill that need or want.

Be careful, though. The how-to must highlight the benefit or final result, not the process itself.

Examples:


Bark A Command / Anyone Can [blank]

Sales copy often falls flat because it fails to tell the reader what to do.

This headline type allows you to be direct, provide a benefit, and take a commanding posture simultaneously.

It’s not conversational, it’s dictatorial - but in an acceptable way that readers have come to expect in clear writing.

Examples:


An honest, Enthusiastic Testimonial

A testimonial headline can do two things for you.

First, it presents your reader with a third party endorsement of your product or service.

Second, it capitalizes on the fact that people like to know what other people say.

Examples:

A variation of this strategy is to write a headline in the first person and put quotation marks around it.

This “virtual testimonial” gives you a more interesting headline and improves readership.


Authenticate Your Proposition With A Little Something Extra

People distrust sales copy. And for good reason.

Alot of it proves inaccurate or downright dishonest.

To cut through this distrust, you can add a little something extra to your headline that seems out of place, yet rings true.

Look at the following headlines and notice how the words “Ohio man”, “Obsolete”, and “Frustrated bartender” stand out.

Their specificity or quirkiness adds a truthful aura that traditional copy could never achieve.

Examples: