Archive for the ‘web content’ Category
OK, so headlines are critical to your marketing communication. Whether that’s advertising, web content, brochures, direct mail … the list goes on. But what happens when you sit down to write, and draw a blank?
The thing is, some days top headlines fairly jump onto your screen. Then there are those other times. A bit of inspiration goes a long way toward writing power headlines.
Online news is a highly competitive space. Writers need to engage visitors within seconds. Most news sites feature a timeline where you’ll find catchy headlines and strong breakout text.
Newsmakers write this copy to grab attention and generate story click through. And they’re darn good at it. Great places to get some headline inspiration of your own include:
Check sites like Digg, Alltop and even Twitter for trending stories … and sharp headlines. These sites are rich pickings for content writers. Not only because they’re great for headline inspiration. Likes, shares and voting put them on the pulse of what’s popular too.
Think about it. Some clever copywriter created those subject lines. Something has to make readers open that e-marketing. Writing email headlines is art in itself. Compelling, benefit driven … AND character limited. Talk about short and sweet! Here’s a few samples:
- Is your video ready for prime time?
- Aussie backyard breaks from $99
- A double whammy for maximum website exposure
Sometimes factual, other times fantastic … it’s headlines that make magazines sell. In the cut-throat world of advertising by circulation, writers can’t afford to get it wrong. The great thing about magazines is their target audience orientation. Which means they’re not only a good place to find writing inspiration. The new ideas you come up with are market tested, like these:
100 perfect outfits that are already in your wardrobe ”
Blogging against the machine ”
More energy instantly! Your secret source ”
The ideas box
Mostly, there’s more junk than mail in my letterbox. But that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes there’s a kooky or really cool flyer that gets my attention. Other times it’s a newspaper insert, or maybe and ad.
I save the best ones. They’re a great resource when it comes to coming up with headline ideas. Here’s a sample:
Hot, steamy and ready to be picked up. You guessed it, pizza!
3 take away tips
- Getting in the right headspace for writing headlines needs some inspiration.
- Don’t discount news services. They’ve been writing winning headlines for years.
- For short and punchy headline inspiration, try checking your inbox.
Headlines with stopping power flag down readers with a simple, benefit driven message. Writing headlines isn’t about reducing your business to a one liner. Great headlines reach out to capture audience interest. For maximum effect, copywriters use words and ideas proven to work.
Make it sound easy
We all love a short cut. If there’s a way to get there that costs less or happens sooner, who won’t be in that? Here’s an example where the copywriter worked in a number to draw readers right into the middle of the headline:
Learn how to read a 180 page book in just ten minutes
And how easy does this sound? Sign me up!
Prepare a fully blown marketing plan in a tenth of the time
Share an experience
There’s a reason social media is huge. People love sharing and, as it turns out, they aren’t too shy about doing that with the whole world! In the right context, a shared experience can really personalise your headline, like this one:
Most women don’t feel relaxed about facial hair
Here, the copywriter has left the headline open to be resolved in the subhead or opening body content:
You’ve probably thought about growing your business
Ask a question
Questions and challenges fall into similar territory. Some of the best power headlines are questions. But writers always treat this territory with caution. Ask anything to which the reader can answer No and your communication dies there and then. Here’s a couple of well written examples:
How to you fare in this kitchen hygiene test?
Which one of these advertising mistakes do you make?
Solve a problem
I know, I know … it’s marketing 101. But so many businesses look past the customer need and write ‘all about me’ headlines. Customer is king (or queen). All your copywriting should reflect how your product or service fulfils customer needs.
These copywriters have tapped the target market psyche beautifully:
Great news for PMS sufferers
How to double your power to learn
Last … but not least, reassurance is a powerful motivator. Almost every buying decision is emotive. Connect with a desire to feel safe, healthy, clever, rich etc.
More beautiful than you ever imagined
Sales results guaranteed or your money back
3 take away tips
- Compelling headlines attract readers with powerful benefits.
- Some of the all time best headlines are questions.
- Always, always write communication that solves the readers need.
Humans are a funny bunch. We’re hard wired to love stories, short-cuts and numbers. That includes your readers. So copywriters who tap into these key motivators write power headlines.
A good copywriter will almost always write the headline first. That’s because they know that, on average, only 2 out of 10 readers will move onto the main content. Here are some of the secrets.
Keep it short & simple
Make your headline work even harder by including a key benefit too.
Connect with images
Never underestimate the power of pictures. In advertising, a good graphic often tells most of the story.
Writing a headline that ties into the visual adds real impact. Entice prospects with a key benefit and accelerate readers on to your content.
Shock, challenge or amuse
Some of the best headlines of all time are the ones that made us laugh. For the right reasons that is (not some ghastly spelling mistake, or worse). A word of caution though – they are the trickiest of all to write.
A headline is the first opportunity to make the reader part of the communication. So cut to the chase and target where they live. Experienced and well briefed writers hone in on audience values:
One child dies every minute “
Are cleaner teeth worth $1 to you? “
The man with the ‘grasshopper mind’ “
Tell me a story
Surely you don’t think a story in 7-9 words is impossible? Newspaper writers and editors do this every day of the week. And they do an awesome job.
Great headlines don’t just state facts:
Man shoots stray dogs
they appeal to the reader:
Dogs shot in senseless attack
Use sensory language
Let’s think about it. Why is anyone reading your marketing content? Not because they want a sales pitch. Because they want to experience your product or service.
Copywriting with touch and feel is the best way to help prospects do that. And headlines are no exception.
For example, “Tastes Great” tells a story. But “Melt in the Mouth” makes me feel it.
Take a number
It’s a fact. People love numbers. So writing a headline that includes a number has instant appeal. And when it comes to online content, list posts almost always work.
Not just any number, mind you. Rounded numbers engage fewer readers than, say authentic survey results.
For example, readers trust “19% of customers think …” over “almost 20% of customers think”.
Similarly, odd numbered online lists tend to outperform their nicely rounded colleagues.
3 take away tips
- Copywriters that tap into key motivators write power headlines.
- Only 2 out of 10 readers will move onto your main content.
- Numbers and numbered lists almost always work.
Ever been tempted to ‘Call now and enjoy this bonus’ or ‘Sign up for daily bargains now’? You’ve been lured by a Call to Action. And powerful additions to web content they are.
Copywriters use the Call to Action to encourage readers to do something. You’ll find them:
- emblazoned across landing pages
- showcased on website buttons
- tucked discretely into online text
In fact, you’ll find the copy includes a Call to Action in almost every promotion: print, radio & TV or digital.
Why is it important?
Let’s look at the job your copywriting does:
- First there’s the headline: that’s for getting attention
- Second the subheading: adds enough detail to get me interested
- Next the body copy: provides all the benefit-driven reasons I should buy
You’ve provided the reader with almost everything they need to make a decision. But the communication isn’t resolved. So far, it’s just an information download. You haven’t told them what to do next.
Order now and we’ll deliver by Friday”
You see, if your web content, advertising or promotional copywriting is going to propel prospects, it needs a Call to Action.
For web content, buttons, banners and other graphics including a Call to Action can add value to your success measurement. Does the red or blue banner work best? Or test different versions of your online copy for click through results.
What works & what doesn’t
When we talk about writing in a Call to Action, it must have some reader benefit. Those old ‘Click here’ and ‘Signup’ buttons you’ll find on many websites are old hat. As your reader, what’s the advantage to me of doing that? I know you’re harvesting my email address to build your contact list. So where’s the kick back that makes it worthwhile?
In her Marketing Profs article, From Action to Engagement: The call to action comes of age, Shreesha Ramdas suggests useful and engaging Calls to Action work best. Her ideas include:
- Watch Demo
- Request a Quote
- Webinar Signup
- Free Trial Signup
- Buying guides, comparative guides, RFPs
- Free e-books
- ROI calculators
- Chat Now buttons
If you’re thinking of your web content with dismay, don’t panic. It only takes a little cluey copywriting to give a Call to Action some kick. But remember, that’s for today only!
3 take away tips
- A Call to Action is a powerful addition to your copy that propels readers to act.
- Most marketing content includes a Call to Action because it completes the message.
- Don’t fall into the trap of tired expressions like Call Now that offer zero reader benefit.