Convince your would-be customers with facts, not hype
A salesletter is defined by the headline it bears. The headline is often written in the largest font, with the boldest colors, and tells the reader why it would be beneficial for them to keep reading.
How many times have you visited a new website and been confused by what is being offered?
It may seem hard to believe, but far too many landing pages fail almost immediately by offering up lackluster headlines and subheads. The visitor who’s reading your landing page wants nothing more than the answer to this question: “What’s in this for me?”
That’s why it’s imperative to think about benefits and features when writing your headlines. Answer their question and you’ll make a sale. Confuse, distract or annoy them and you will lose one.
According to our landing page scorecard, the most optimal of headlines follows these four rules:
1. The headline engages the target user with a compelling benefit.
The most succinct copywriting tip we’ve heard in a long time came from Fred Gleeck at a product development seminar. Fred cited this maxim in a discussion of how to title your book. But the adage is just as valid whether you’re writing a headline for an advertisement or a press release, or a pithy subject line for a convincing email message, or a list of product benefits.
We all know that people sort for self-interest. Everyone’s favorite radio station is WII-FM. That’s short for “What’s in it for me?”
So here’s Fred’s formula for writing a compelling book title that appeals to the customer’s self-interest:
Combine your customer’s greatest need with your product’s greatest benefit.
For example, “Low Cost Website Promotion” (Need: website promotion; benefit: low cost ways to do it).
2. The headline calls attention to the product or service by name.
By using the title of the product in your headline, you’re telling them exactly what product you will be talking about for the rest of your copy. The title will resonate in their heads instantly and keep with them in case they happen to leave the page and decide to Google it later. This is important.
By the way, this doesn’t mean that you need to talk about your brand in the headline. A publication’s name alone seldom provokes sufficient interest or provides motivation to subscribe. You can add interest to the heading of your page with any number of standard headline techniques, such as putting an offer in the headline (e.g., “FREE sample issue!”) or incorporating a benefit or promise (e.g., “When doctors at Harvard Medical School get sick, this is what they do…”).
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3. The headline is clear and easy to read.
The formula for an effective advertisement, which was developed and proven in the print medium and works online as well, is summarized with the acronym AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action). In the simplest way possible, you should be able to tackle these four items.
Consider this headline:
“Seventeen secrets that only the most successful restaurant owners
know for increasing casual dining profitability.”
This headline identifies a target audience (successful restaurant owners and wannabes) and gets their attention (secrets) by offering a Big Promise (casual dining profitability).
4. The headlines establish the need to buy the product or service.
A great headline acts as a succinct, compelling statement of why the prospect should buy your product that can be stated in 15 or fewer words. It says, “We know who you are, we know what your pain is, and if you buy this product, we promise to make your pain go away.”
The business model of writing boastful, self-serving copy is finished. It doesn’t work anymore—at least not for anyone with an IQ greater than room temperature.
Customers don’t want to be “marketed to.” They’re too smart and sophisticated for that. They want to be “communicated with.”
This means that writing landing page headlines is trickier than ever, while making more sense than ever. Be honest. Tell them the benefits and speak to them how you’d like to be spoken to. If a headline sounds like too much hype for you to bear, it’s probably too hyped for them too.
You can still capture their attention with a big, bold promise in the headline. That’s essential. But you’d better be quick to back up your claims and support your promise with factual, sincere and believable text, or you’ve lost them.