How to write attention grabbing headlines

Advertising pro David Olglivy once claimed that five times as many people read the headline as read your main copy. This means that once you’ve written your headline, you’ve essentially spent 80p out of your copywriting pound.

Now whilst Mr Olglivy he was talking about advertisements at the time, the importance of your headline is still the same, whether it’s a blog title, an email subject line (which are essentially little headlines) or the headline on your home page, sales page, product brochure or services leaflet.

The headline is hands down the most important copy on your page. It’s the first message your reader will see and it has two major tasks:

  1. To stop visitors in their tracks and
  2. To entice them into reading the rest of your copy

That’s it.

Your headline is so darn important that it can literally mean the difference between a reader staying on your site and scanning the rest of your copy or bouncing away, so it’s got to be absolutely brilliant!

A good headline sums up in a sentence what is unique and highly desirable about the copy your visitor is about to read.

  • It should be clear
  • It should grab attention
  • It should get straight to the point, and ideally
  • It should highlight a benefit.

Here are six quick and easy tips that you can use to write super effective headlines today.


Tip 1: Use a Superlative in your headline

A superlative is simply a very strong adjective or, if you’re not a grammar geek, a descriptive word. And when perfectly placed it can really draw in your reader by offering them something over and above the norm.

So instead of

11 smoothie recipes


11 super delicious smoothie recipes


Instead of

Eight headline formulas for you to try out today


Eight proven headline formulas for you to try out today


Tip 2: Always address the reader directly in your headlines

By using words like you and you’re, you’re making your writing personal by speaking directly to your reader.

So instead of

15 ways to start a business


15 ways to start your business

Instead of

10 ways to stop wasting time


10 ways to stop wasting your time.

Then let’s say we combine this tip with the first tip! We would have something like:

15 expert ways to start your business or 10 super efficient ways to stop wasting your time

Now your headline is beginning to take shape!


Tip 3: Use power words to add emotion to your headlines

Power words were first coined by ad copywriter Karl Stepp and it basically means using emotion to create action. There are 180 of these power words and a few of my favourites include

  • expert
  • ultimate
  • innovative
  • genuine
  • outstanding, and
  • proven.

Research has shown time and time again that headlines with an emotional hook in them convert much better than those without, so this can really make a difference in your headlines pulling power, and your copy overall.


Tip 4: Consider using a time limit in your headline

By adding a timescale to your headline you’re tapping into the desire to get things done fast by promising your reader that results can be achieved in a relatively short period of time.

So for example you might have:

How to transform your social media engagement in just five days

or perhaps

Change just one sentence of your website to get immediate results


Tip 5: Overcome your readers objections

It’s a common misconception that the best copywriters in the world are the ones who can write the best. But actually, this isn’t true!

The best copywriters in the world are the ones who can overcome objections the best.

Nine times out of 10 your reader is going to arrive on your site with an objection in mind and what you want to do is use your headline to overcome that objection.

So, first of all have a think about the sort of objections your readers may have, then think about how you can dispel those with your headline.

For example, if you’re a personal fitness trainer, an objection might be:

Oh running is too hard, it’s only for a really fit people!

And to overcome this, your headline might be:

Is this the easiest way ever to get started with running?

Or let’s say you’re targeting mums and you want to teach them how to run their own business. Their objection might be:

I don’t have time to run a business I’m too busy looking after my children and my dogs and my house!

So, your headline might be:

How to start and grow your business even when you’ve got three kids nipping at your ankles.


Tip 6: Start keeping a headline swipe file

This is something professional writers have been doing for years and personally I think it’s something everyone who writes for their business should do.

Basically. every time you see a headline you think really stands out, or if you see a headline that is getting loads and loads of social shares or comments then copy and paste that headline and stick it in a Word or Google document.

Then when you’re next stuck on what to write in your own headlines you can that you refer to that document and use it to get those creative juices flowing.

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