Most of us know intuitively that good copywriting is important. But here’s something that may not be as intuitive: copywriting includes headlines and titles (and headings)!
Whatever online business or business model you’re pursuing – information products, e-commerce, blogging, lead generation, or almost anything else – headlines & titles matter.
They have a job to do: grab & hold attention, which in turn determines whether someone engages with you…
More than anything else, your headline or title is what will dictate your success in terms of grabbing readers, pulling ad clicks, etc.
In a very real sense, it can mean the difference between profit & loss. In fact, having a great headline is so important for lead-gen and any other PPC efforts that it warrants split-testing just for that element alone (hot tip: we wrote an article on this very subject!).
The bottom line: just like you can ill afford poor copywriting, you also can’t afford mediocre or ‘low-performing’ headlines, subject lines, or titles.
==> Download our new resource and guide for creating killer headlines, titles, and subject lines: “Great Headlines & Titles!“
So how do you create great headlines – or know when you have a great headline?
The answer: periodicals, particularly magazines & newspapers!
Engagement = Success
It’s even truer in the online world than in the print world: engagement equals success.
But in order to have engagement – whether that’s reading a post or report, filing out a lead form, purchasing, etc. – you first have to get someone’s attention.
And that’s the job of your headline or title.
It’s a lot to ask: you often have just seconds to sway someone, to grab their attention and hold them before they move on – unlike many print publications like newspapers or magazines where someone has often purchased the publication, and so may be more inclined to look past a title or headline.
How then do you – consistently! – produce great headlines or titles?
One answer, as mentioned above, is continuous split-testing.
But what if you’re not in a position to test or more to the point, don’t want to lose traffic while you test your way to incrementally improved performance?
Pre-Done For You
Easy – have the testing ‘pre-done’ for you!
No, I haven’t fallen off my rocker…
In fact, there are ready-made, “pre-done” and tested headlines and titles covering virtually anything you might want to say:
It’s those aforementioned periodicals, particularly magazines & newspapers!
FACT: If it’s in a paid print format, it’s been thoroughly vetted by seasoned professionals.
You can bet your bottom dollar that any & every newspaper and glossy magazine has an editor who will withhold approval on the cover, and every article, until the headline is – to use our terms – thoroughly optimized.
Their jobs literally ride on how well those titles and headlines perform – and they’re evaluated through live-or-die metrics like numbers of readers and viewership increases or decreases.
How do you take advantage of this? Find “glossy magazines” in your niche, and go through current and/or back issues until you find something directly or almost directly on target. I put “glossy magazines” in quotes because you don’t necessarily have to find the physical magazine; browse a publication’s website, or Amazon, etc.
Anything that has made it to the cover is golden – but don’t stop there! If you’re able to – bookstores & newsstands are ideal for this – peruse the TOC (Table of Contents), go to ‘regular’ feature sections and check out the titles of articles there, look at the ‘Coming Next Issue’ section if there is one.
Can’t get to the physical publications? No problem – Amazon lists thousands of periodicals in hundreds of categories. Even better than Amazon, Magazines.com is, well, the ‘Amazon’ of magazines!
And of course, there’s always the library.
It’s worth noting: unless you’re titling something tech- or otherwise current-event related, you don’t need to limit yourself to current issues. Past issues are just as good.
TIP: Want to take this idea a step further and ‘Supercharge’ it?
The ‘news voting’ sites like Digg, Reddit, Buzzfeed, etc., inherently “super-optimize” through voting. Articles – with their headlines – are voted up or down by hundreds, sometimes thousands of readers. As a result, they self-organize into a ‘Best Of’ top-down list: the articles that get the most votes are listed first.
In most cases, you can almost count on the top stories to have great headlines – just remember that “great” in this context is not necessarily the same thing as “clever”, etc. It’s “great” in terms of having caught & held attention – which is exactly what we’re after.
And, you don’t have to stop there: you can consider top blogs as equivalent to glossy magazines – as with all advertiser-funded mediums, they too live or die based on how well their headlines perform. And they have the added benefit that their headlines have also been optimized for online viewing!
Along those lines, check out sites like Alltop.com, which you can consider as another ‘Best Of’ filter for top blogs.
Quick Guide: Great Headlines & Titles!
Inside Info Biz Academy, our comprehensive course on creating an information-products business, we go over content and copywriting in detail.
Although not necessary for creating info-products (in fact, some of the most effective methods don’t involve writing at all!), great content includes great titles & headlines – and that holds for ads as well or more!
To that end, we produced a short report & guide for course members, which we’re making available to everyone: Download “Great Headlines & Titles!”
He Who Hesitates…
…loses, at least in this context.
This is one of those things that can bring you an instant boost in, well, in whatever you’re doing online! Unless your headlines and titles are ‘perfect’, some percentage is blowing by and not stopping to engage.
Improve your headlines & titles, and you improve your business. It’s just that quick, and that simple!