How to Write Great Headlines

Email marketing requires copywriting and headlines that get read.

It’s part science, part art and storytelling. We’ve been compiling a list of the best formulas for writing great headlines but before we go on, here are some facts and guidelines to keep in mind.

The 80/20 Rule of Great Headlines

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity)[1] states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.[2] (Ref; Wikipedia)

This principle has now been applied to sales, to marketing, to projects and to writing. On average, 8 out of 10 people will only read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the body copy. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it determines the effectiveness and convertibility of your communication.

The better the headline, the better your odds of communicating your message and getting the conversion you are looking for.

The copywriting trainers at American Writers & Artists suggest you follow The Four U’s to writing great headlines:

Headlines, subheads and bullets should:

  1. Be USEFUL to the reader,
  2. Provide him with a sense of URGENCY,
  3. Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE; and
  4. Do all of the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way.

Copywriter Clayton Makepeace in a recent issue of the Early to Rise ezine, suggests answering these six questions before you start to write your headline:

  1. Does your headline offer the reader a reward for reading?
  2. What specifics could you add to make your headline more intriguing and believable?
  3. Does your headline trigger a strong, actionable emotion the reader already has about the subject at hand?
  4. Does your headline present a proposition that will instantly get your prospect nodding his or her head?
  5. Could your headline benefit from the inclusion of a proposed transaction?
  6. Could you add an element of intrigue to drive the prospect into your opening copy?

Clearly and simple answering these 6 questions combined with the 4 U’s provides a framework for you to practically follow in order to write a great headline.

Here are some examples of the headline I could have used on this blog

  1. 6 Secrets to Writing Great Headlines
  2. Here is a Formula to Write Converting Headlines
  3. Little Known Ways to help You Stop Writing bad headlines.

It’s important to experiment with uppercase and lowercase subject lines. You might just find that a casual style works better. Here are 5 more headline starter ideas.

  1. Ask questions
  2. Make it about them
  3. Tell a story
  4. Make it personal
  5. Be human