Which of these headlines is most likely to spur you to sign up for a webinar?
One reads “New Webinar Helps Managers Improve Productivity” and the other says “Get All Your Work Done in Half the Time, Be the Office Hero, and Go Home Early.”
The correct answer is the second choice, and that’s because it’s a “benefits headline,” which is a type of headline that entices your readers by showing how your product, service or idea will make your life better.
Here are five tips for crafting effective benefits headlines:
1. Pile on the perks.
If an article, for instance, about customer service mentions an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas, then tout that in your headline: “Win a Trip for Two to Las Vegas.”
You can also use subheads to help readers zero in why they should stick with your article or release, such as “Drive in profits” or “Collect a bonus.” Readers love benefits, because they focus on their favorite topic: themselves. So don’t be afraid to keep layering on the benefits.
2. Call out to targeted readers.
“If you want mothers to read … display ‘Mothers’ in your headline,” advised advertising guru David Ogilvy.
Call out to readers, especially if you’re writing to a subset to your audience. For instance, if you article is about medical care, you may want to target “nurses” or “doctors” in your headline.
3. Don’t shy away from longer headlines.
Layering on all of those benefits takes space. This means you may need more words for benefits headlines.
Benefits headlines of 10 words or longer sell more products than short headlines, wrote Ogilvy, citing research from the New York University School of Retailing.
In fact, the best headline Ogilvy said he ever wrote came in at a whopping 17 words long: “At 60 Miles an Hour, the Loudest Noise in the New Rolls-Royce Comes From the Electric Clock”
4. Be specific.
Quantify and specify benefits. They’ll be more interesting and believable. Plus, you’ll differentiate your message from all your competitors.
How specific? Well, “59 seconds” is more specific than the phrase “in seconds,” counsels marketing expert Dan Kennedy.
Numerals in headlines sell, because they quantity the value of the information, however, odd numbers are more effective than even numbers according to Folio:. So “5 ways” is better than “10 tips.”
5. Don’t drop the deck.
Remember to write a one sentence summary under the headline.
Because benefits headlines don’t summarize the key story elements, you’ll need to get more specific in the deck so that your reader feels inspired to read on.
Copyright © 2019 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.
Ann Wylie works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. Learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services at WylieComm.com. Get more of Ann’s tips at FreeWritingTips.WylieComm.com. Email: ann@WylieComm.com
Would you like to learn more proven-in-the-lab techniques for getting emails opened, read and clicked through? If so, please join PRSA and Ann Wylie at Reach Readers Online — a three-day email-, blog- and mobile web-writing Master Class on July 24-26 in Portland, Ore. PRSA members: Save $100 with coupon code PRSA19. APRs: Earn six maintenance points.