A companion guide to the ECHO Electronic Cigarette Partner Programme
What’s the most important part of an advert?
You can probably guess from the title – it’s the headline.
And there’s a simple reason.
Eight out of ten people only ever read the headline.
Think of how you read a newspaper? Do you sit down and read every article, or do you flick through until a great headline catches your attention?
Get your headline wrong and no-one will ever read what you write. Get it right, and your sales will explode.
Mastering this skill is essential for making money with adverts, classifieds, blog posts and articles with ALL your affiliate and networking marketing programs.
And in this post we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to do, including:
- ten tips for writing headlines that sell more
- ten formulas you can use to instantly create great headlines
- how to use powerful words and the hype method to make your headlines irresistible
- the four great appeals successful headlines use
- 4 U’s headline checklist – and how to use it
- how to use testing to get up 19.5 times more sales from your ad
When you’ve finished, you’ll not only write adverts that create more leads, you’ll also have one of the keys to making blog posts go viral.
Ten Tips for Writing Headlines that Sell More
1. Avoid Clever Headlines Headlines that are catchy or are a play on words might make people smile, but if people don’t know what the topic is about they are not going to read it.
2. Appeal to Self Interest People are not interested in you, they are interested in themselves. So your headline must focus on what your advert can do for the person, not what it can do for you. Which means you must also include:
3. Benefits, Benefits, Benefits Your headline must tell the reader what benefits they can gain from reading your ad or blog post. Or, even better, include two, related benefits. Think of one of the most famous headlines ever:
How to make friends and influence people
Two powerful benefits!
(By the way, I have read the bookand can heartily recommend it.)
Here are some more examples from CopyBlogger;
- How to Save Time and Get Things Done (Time Management Coach)
- How to Get a Better Job and Make More Money (Recruiter)
- How to Save Money and Retire Rich (Financial Planner)
Don’t get confused between benefits and features.
Feature: Powerful Engine
Benefit: Drive Faster, Show Off to Your Friends
Or here’s one for electronic cigarettes:
Feature: Dual Coil Atomiser
Benefit: More Vapour, More Throat Hit
Here are some benefits you can use in your ads if you are a member of our partner program:
- Save Money
- Make Money
- Be Healthier (remember you can legally say the e-cigarette is healthier than cigarettes, but not that it healthy in absolute sense)
- Smoke Anywhere
- Sell Products
- Generate a Second Income
- 30% Off (use the voucher code from your affiliate panel in the text)
4. Be Specific
Remember, it is not just about the number of people you attract, but who you attract.
You’re better off attracting 10 smokers than 100 non-smokers to an ad about electronic cigarettes.
And with 4 out of every 5 people who read a headline skipping the ad, you need to get your message across fast. So your headline must clearly relate to what you are selling.
Which leads to:
5. Identify Your Target Audience
Optional, but very effective!
You can do this indirectly, for example by mentioning smoking, or directly, by calling out the group of people you are targetting.
Here’s two I have used which I have worked well for me on blog posts:
Smokers, you are being lied to!
Vapers, you are all liars. (A vaper is the name for a person who uses an e-cigarette.)
6. Be Realistic
Can you guess which of these headlines was the most effective:
1. “John Smith made $110000 the first year writing motion piction scenarios.”
2. “John Smith sold his first most piction scenario for $9,000 one month after completing this Course.”
The writer of the second headline, Bruce Barton, explained that it was more effective because everyone could imagine themselves earning $9,000. Few could imagine themselves earning $110,000.
7. Add a Guarantee
There’s two ways to do this.
You can add an actual guarantee.
This simple headline worked a treat:
Corn Gone In 5 Days or Money Back
Or you can use it to add value to the text that follows.
The ViperChill blog uses this technique to great effect with headlines like:
Hundreds of Links To Your Next Blog Post – Guaranteed
(We’ll discuss ViperChill’s formula for writing great headlines later in this post.)
The headline works well because it makes a promise – and even if you are sceptical you want to see if the promise will be fulfilled.
8. Make the solution quick and easy
What better than getting a benefit?
How about getting a benefit quickly and easily?
Which would attract your attention more:
1. How I improved my memory? or 2. How I improved my memory in one evening?
The second headline, of course – but remember point 6 from above – Keep it believable!
9. Making Use of Your Reader’s Natural Curiosity
Make your reader curious, and they will read your text to satisfy their curiousity.
In his book Tested Advertising Methods John Caples uses the following example:
“How a Fool Stunt Made Me A Star Salesman.”
But notice how John combines curiosity (what was the stunt?) with benefit (become a star salesman) and a quick solution (just one stunt!)
Avoid headlines that purely use curiosity - your headline should also identify your target audience and appeal to self interest.
10. Use a Story
Stories are especially good on places where people go to read stories – think newspapers and magazines and, to a less extent, blogs.
However, they are also a compelling way to get a message across.
Here’s a story headline which worked well for me.
I Switched to E-Cigarettes and Bought a House with the Savings
(This was a true story. One of our customers had the deposit saved for a house but couldn’t afford to pay for a mortgage while she was spending £400 on cigarettes – until she switched to e-cigarettes!)
10 Formulas You Can Use to Instantly Create Great Headlines
Don’t think you need to be a creative genius to write good headlines.
In fact creative souls can often lose customers by confusing them with complicated headlines which are not specific and don’t feature benefits.
Many copywriters have swipe files, lists of great adverts they have seen which they use for inspiration.
And they also follow formulas that work.
Here are some of my favourite formulas:
1. How to…
How to adverts work like magic! To make them even better, combine them with a benefit:
How to write adverts … that sell products
They work because the promise a solution to a problem, useful information that can improve your life.
So other headlines that promise solutions can also work.
The Secrets to Writing Effective Headlines: Revealed
2. List Headlines:
List headlines also wrote extremely well.
For example, if you were a smoker how would this appeal to you:
The Top 10 Most Effective Ways to Quit Smoking
Grab the readers attention by using a controversial headline.
One blog post I am working on at the moment is:
Why electronic cigarettes should be banned…
I don’t actually think they should be banned, but the text goes on to explain how some anti-smoking organisations want e-cigarettes to be banned because they think it makes smoking look normal.
I guarantee that post will be read, shared and commended on by lots of other hard core e-cigarette enthusiasts
Personally, I prefer a headline which focuses on benefits, but newsy headlines can work well. These often begin with words like:
Here’s one to try:
Announcing the New ECHO Electronic Cigarette
5. Question Headlines
Question headlines can be effective in calling out the group of people you are speaking too.
However, remember to focus on the reader’s concerns, not yours.
Have you ever tried to quit smoking and failed?
Most smokers have tried to quit and failed. So, these people will say yes, and their eyes will be drawn to the advert or the blog post.
And it’s these people who buy electronic cigarettes.
6. The Testimonial HeadlineCan work a dream.
Check out one of John Caple’s most effective headlines ever:
They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano But When I Started to Play!…
Even more formulas:
7. The Command Headline
Simply put, the command headline tells the reader what do do now.
Buy Now and Get 30% Off
Notice that this headline also combines:
8. The Offer/ Discount Headline
This is a great one to use with the 30% discount code you get when you join our partner program. You can also combine this with the:
10. The Time Limited Headline
Buy Today and get 30% Off
Implied is the danger that if you don’t buy today you will lose your 30% discount. You could also use:
Hurry – Offer Ends Soon
These are great headlines to use because it forces the reader to make a decision.
It’s easy for people to avoid decisions. They may plan to come back later, but chances are they won’t, or if they do they won’t buy through your affiliate link.
Add a time limited offer, and you push the reader to make a decision now. After all, who wants to pay 30% more tomorrow!
How to Use Powerful Words and the Art of Hype to Make Your Headlines Simply Irresistible
Powerful words can improve headlines tremendously, and allow you to hype the promise of the text that follows. Compare:
A Guide to Writing Headlines that Sell Products
The Ultimate Guide to Writing Headlines that Sell Products
The use of the words “the” and “ultimate” hypes the article up, and increases the value of reading.
Glenn Allsop of ViperChill calls this “The Item Hype Formula” which consists of:
1. Item you are writing about.
+ 2. The follow up which makes people wants to read it.
(Although the follow up doesn’t always have to be at the end of the article.)
For example, I could have written the title to this post as:
“The only guide to writing headlines you’ll ever need.”
The “only: and “you’ll ever need” hypes the promise of the article.
(Although, I actually recommend you read as much as you can on the subject!)
“Get hundreds of sales from your next advert: Guaranteed”
Here are a few powerful words to help your next headline hit home:
Free: The word free is the most powerful word in advertising. Of course, you can’t always give away a product, but you could give away a free guide to quitting smoking in return for an email address.
Secret: Good used with the word revealed. Everyone loves to learn a secret, especially on which you can use to your advantage.
Threat, Danger: No one likes a threat or a danger – which is why we will read something that tells us how to avoid them.
Hurry, Ends Soon, Limited Special offer: If you are highlighting a special offer, these words create the fear that the special offer will soon end and the customer will lose out.
Check Your Headline Against The Four Great Appeals
As we’ve said earlier, the most important part of a headline is the appeal to self interest.
John Caples believes that all appeals can be boiled down into 4 types:
1. Sex/Sex Appeal: And also love, friendship and affection.
2. Greed: The desire to make/save money.
3. Fear: The fear of losing what you have.
4. Duty/Honour/Professionalism: The desire to do good.
Of course, you need to find out which is the right appeal – which we’ll come to in a minute…
Write, leave, review
Don’t write one headline – write as many as you can.
Then leave it and come back to it.
A break removes you from the writing and gives you a more detached view when you come back to it. Some people even send the headline to themselves in an email, to see how it looks in their inbox!
By writing more than one headline, you’ll be following in the footsteps of the masters. One copywriter, David Olgivly, wrote 104 headlines before coming up with the famous:
At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.
If you can, get feedback from friends before you publish a headline.
I always get someone to look at both the headline and the copy.
(Remember, you can ask for feedback from other partners on our Skype group or facebook group.)
How to Use the 4 U’s to Check Your Headlines:
Robert Bly, author of The Copywriter’s Handbook, has developed the 4 U’s checklist. which helps check on many of the points above:
1. Urgency: Compare: “Make100000 working from home” to “Make100000 working from home”.
2. Unique: Robert Bly believes the best headline says something new or in a different way. He compared the effective “Why Japanese women have beatiful skin” to the boring and standard: “Save 10% off Japanese Bath Kits.”
3. Ultra-specific. (Target your audience!)
4. Useful: (Offering a benefit.)
How testing can you get a 1950% increase in sales!
Finally always test your headlines and adverts.
Wonder how important this is?
Well, John Caples, famous copywriter and author of Tested Advertising Methods, tested two adverts.
Let’s call them advert A and advert B.
Advert A sold NINETEEN AND HALF TIMES times as many adverts as Headline B.
Imagine getting 19 sales instead of 1?
Or £190 in commissions of 10? Or earning £1950 instead of £100?
John Caples wrote:
Both adverts occupied the same space. Both had photographic illustrations. Both had carefully written copy. The difference was that one used the right appeal and one used the wrong appeal.
And the way to find that appeal?
If you’re not sure about how to test your headlines, make sure to check out John Trayhorn’s article on advertising.
For this post I am going to use the very simple technique of creating two bitly links. (Bitly is an extremely easy method to find out where your traffic is coming from.) Then I am going to post the same link with different headlines on a forum and see which gets most clicks.
I’m also going to send this out via our auto-responder and see who clicks most on each different headline.
Don’t be surprised if the headline at the top of this post changes
Ready to practise your headline writing skills?
Then check out this post: Recruit hundreds of customers and affiliates with these free classifieds sites for 24 mostly free places to place your adverts.
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