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Copywriting Tutorial: How To Write Headlines

September 17, 2019


Hey guys, it’s Alex and in this video I’m
going to walk you through my super simple 3-step formula to writing H.O.T. headlines. So, what are headlines? They are strategically-written attention-grabbing statements used in marketing and copywriting with the sole purpose of getting your reader to engage with you. Whether it be to click an ad on Facebook or to continue reading a sales offer or, yes… even picking up that magazine in the checkout line at the grocery store. Now, I’m not talking about clickbait. For
those of you using clickbait in your marketing, seriously stop it. You’re lame, you’re ruining the internet for the rest of us. If you don’t know what clickbait is, it is
similar to the headlines I’m talking about.. Except, in this case, they are written for
the sole purpose of getting a click and don’t add any value whatsoever. I’m sure you’ve seen clickbait while
you’re scrolling around the internet… Usually there will be a blurry photo or gross hyperbole or a controversial topic that leads to virtually nothing… An endless cesspool of lame stuff that nobody cares about. What I’M talking about is writing effective
headlines for your valuable content. Content that adds educational value, entertainment value, or inspirational value. Now, ironically, even though headlines are
the very first thing that your customer will read… As a copywriter they are actually the
very last thing you should be writing… And that is because they are the single most effective and important part of any sales message. Whether it be a blog post, a Facebook ad,
or sales offer, your headline decides who stays and who goes, who clicks and who keeps scrolling. Your headlines need to be precise, personalized,
and provoking, and often… The shorter they are, the harder they are to write. As I like to say, the right phrase pays so
really take the time to get this right. Practice writing headlines and whatever you
do don’t get too attached. Always, always, always test your headlines. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve
written a headline that I think is pure gold and then we test it and it flops. So, write many, write often and just keep,
keep, keep, testing your headlines. Now, of course headlines aren’t the only part
of an effective sales message, so if you’re considering starting your own copywriting
business, or if you want to use copy to scale your business, make sure to hit subscribe
because coming down the pipe will be plenty more videos on copywriting basics like how
to find a hot niche and how to create fierce brand loyalty through copywriting. So, tell me if this has happened to you, you’re
on Facebook or Instagram, you’re checking out your friends stuff you’re clicking around
and next thing you know you’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole and you end up on one
of those listicle sites like Buzzfeed or Bored Panda… And next thing you know you’re reading
a blog post titled “The 17 Questions I Have For People Who Like Cilantro”. Yeah, well that happened to me this morning,
and I know I can’t be the only one, if this has happened to you, like this video below.
Guys, don’t leave me hanging. I know the rabbit hole is deep and a lot of
us get trapped down there frequently. Like, do you even notice how offensive this
flavor is? Why would anyone ever pay for something so
yucky? Why do you not get pissed off when the giant
stringy mess shows up unexpectedly on your food? Okay, so if this has ever happened to you chances
are you have fallen prey to a killer headline. Now, as a marketer or business owner, just
think of the possibilities of what you could do if your website was able to garner that
many clicks. Lucky for you, the formula for writing a H.O.T.
headline is simple enough and with practice I promise it will become second nature to
you as a copywriter. Websites like Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed,
and Bored Panda are absolutely killing the headline game. So if you want some inspiration, just scroll
through those sites and see what kind of headlines they’re writing. I do this all the time. And I have a favorite tool that I use for
checking the most popular headlines trending on any given topic. If you want to get
your hands on that just comment below and I’ll get it to you. I’ll respond with the link
to that tool. It’s something that I use every single day
just to see what’s hot, what’s culturally relevant today. Moving into my 3 step formula for writing
a H.O.T. headline. Step one, a Hook. So in copywriting and marketing a hook is
any concept or idea that grabs the users attention. It often provokes an emotion or promises some
sort of benefit. So common emotions that drive clicks would
be fear, joy, the classic “us vs them,” the fear of missing out. In fact, I just read a study that blew my mind. It was written by Chris Tolls who is the CEO of Topix, an entertainment company, and he
developed a strategy where he was able to drive 20-30 billion (that’s with a B) page views to
his website by creating content that played off of only 4 human emotions. And he only has 6 full time writers. That’s 20-30 billion page views. And he describes those 4 emotions as history
or nostalgia, so like ahh I remember that… You know you always see those posts, like
“how to know if you’re a 90’s kid” and you’re like, oh yeah totally. Humour, that’s a pretty obvious one, pride
of knowledge so that emotion when you know you were right about something, and then the
fourth one is called schadenfreude. Now if you don’t know what schadenfreude is,
neither did I, I had to google it. It’s actually a German word that means pleasure
derived from other people’s misfortune. So suddenly sites like Dog Shaming and F
My Life make so much more sense. And now moving on to step 2 of the H.O.T. headline
formula, and that is you must create an Open Loop. So in marketing, an open loop is any concept
or idea which actually forces the brain, naturally forces the brain to seek out some sort of
conclusion. So if you were writing a headline that opened
a loop, the following content should then close that loop. It piques curiosity and one can not help, it’s
like a cliffhanger, one cannot help but click or continue reading in order to close that
loop that’s been opened in their brain. So one of the the most common ways
to create an open loop in a headline is through specificity. Im sure you’ve seen this all over websites
like Buzzfeed and Bored Panda because they use this so well. They include numbers in their headlines… And that’s because people love learning in sets. If they know there is 5 steps or 4 tips or ONE technique you must learn… It’s going to naturally increase their odds that they’re
going to click on that headline. And like I said, scroll through Buzzfeed you
will see a million headlines written like this, and its brilliant. They’ve done it so
well. Now, of course, you don’t have to use a number
in a headline to create an open loop… It’s just one of the simplest ways to do it. You can just be very good at storytelling.
So for example I just read a headline the other day that said, Gisele Bündchen finally
opens up about why her and Leo broke up. So you know that’s a typical sort of tabloid-y
type of headline but you can see why it creates that open loop. It obviously implies that
by clicking that headline, you’re going to find out what she said. Okay now moving on to step 3 of the H.O.T.
headline formula. You must speak to your Target Audience. So a really effective headline will always
call out the reader, either by using the word “you” or by play off the readers sense
of belonging or identity. I read a headline the other day, “20 Trivia
Questions That Separate Millenials from Gen Z-ers.” . That headline is brilliant because obviously
it speaks to those two groups, and everyone loves learning about their favorite topic,
themselves. This is exactly why quizzes and personality
type tests and all of that do so well no matter how ridiculous they are. You want to know what hogwarts house you belong
to or what magical fairy you are. So make it clear who you are speaking to. Remember, if you try to appeal to everyone,
you appeal to no one. So now can you see why I was so hell bent
on the cilantro headline? It checked all of the boxes. It had a clear
“us vs them” hook. I’ve heard somewhere that you either love cilantro or you hate it, so
no matter what group you fall into those are two extremely powerful emotions that are going
to get clicks. Two, it had specificity, 17 questions, even
though every single question was basically a version of, why are you crazy? Why do you like cilantro? I still had to know what they were. And then number 3 it had a Target Audience. So this is such a brilliant headline because
if it truly is true that you’re either someone who loves cilantro or someone who hates cilantro
then that headline simultaneously spoke to everyone but also was extremely self-identifying
because you’re either in one group or the other. Which makes me wonder, which group are you
in? I personally love cilantro, and think that
people who don’t like cilantro are kind of nuts. But comment below and let me know which side
you fall on, because this is a big deal. Clearly this is the most important thing I’m
talking about in this video. So get to work writing those H.O.T. headlines
and if you found this video helpful please like and share and be sure to check back soon
for more videos on copywriting, marketing, branding, and more. Till then, I’m Alex, Ciao for now.

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