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How To Write An Effective Headline

Business Tips and Trends 

Headlines are critical for your copy’s success. Advertising guru, David Ogilvy, once stated that five times as many people read the headline than they do the body copy. Twitter or Facebook posts have less copy and are more like a headline, so it’s important to know how to write an effective headline. Experts say the ultimate headline contains a keyword like content marketing specifically if it’s going online on a website or social media. Your headline should be effective enough for people to read the entire body copy. David Ogilvy, also stated that the headline should carry 90% of the advertising dollar. Besides the keyword in a headline, other formulas to gain attention could be:

  • Focus on Benefits. Don’t keep your audience guessing, as to how your product or service will improve their lives.
  • News Headlines. Start the headline with words like, “Introducing,” “At Last,” and “Announcing!”
  • Use a Number within the Headline. For some reason, appointing a number gets people to pay attention.
  • Ask a Question. Asking a question engages the audience and gets them interested.
  • Keep the Headline Short. Experts say seven words or less does the trick.
  • Use the Element of Surprise. Negative headlines, such as “What We Can’t Do For You,” can catch your audience off guard but don’t forget to turn it around and be positive and upbeat.
  • Be Precise. Don’t write a headline that has nothing to do with the body copy.
  • Target Your Exact Audience. If you pinpoint your audience, you will come across as an expert, if you don’t you’ll come across as vague.

Lenka Istvanova of Koozai Marketing developed a headline formula based on her analysis of best practices for headlines that get clicks. The formula goes like this:

Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise = The Ultimate Headline

From the standpoint of a graphic designer, headlines should NOT be in all caps. It should be in a simple type font as to be legible. Headlines should be bolder and larger than the body text or at least stand out more.

We’ll leave you with this recent headline that got attention… “Actress Betty White, 92, Dyes Peacefully in Her Los Angeles Home.” I, myself, quickly clicked on the link to that article as I think she is a national treasure. White is alive and well, and the article was simply about her life these days. The headline refers to the fact that she dyes her own hair in her own home. LOL!

Betty White