in Design

Dummies Guide to Writing Enticing Headlines

A headline is all about first impressions. When writing headlines it is important to consider how you could ‘hook’ the reader so that they take the action you want (reading an article, visiting a website to find out more etc.).

One of the best tips I ever received when I was starting out in copywriting was to write the headlines first before you research and write articles or press release.  Once you have a great title in place the rest of the writing will follow more easily.

Why Headlines Matter

Statistics show that as many as 8 out of 10 people will take the time to read headline copy.  However the numbers drop off sharply after this and as only few as 2 out of 10 people will actually bother to continue reading the copy.

–  This means the headline needs to pack a powerful punch.  I aim to create headlines that engage and entice the reader in just 6 to 8 words.

– There should be a strong message in the title that will stick with the browser even if they do not read the rest of the copy.

– This means my time will not be wasted no matter how many people bother to read on past the headlines.

– Writing magnetic headlines will help to transform browsers into active and engaged readers.

– From a business point of view headlines can be your best weapon to ensure that the compelling copy you have written is communicated to as many people as possible.

Top Tips for Writing Enticing Headlines

I have picked up some great tips for writing powerful and enticing headlines over the years.  This is not an exhaustive list but should be a great starting place for anyone that wants to boost their headline power.

– Keep it Simple and Concise – one of the most important things to remember when writing headlines is to keep it simple and concise.  Short, punchy headlines will have much more impact than long-winded, rambling ones.

– State the Actual Benefits – You need to get your number one selling point across first. For example ‘50% Off Designer Brands’ can be much more visually powerful than ‘Great Savings on Many Top Designer Brands Online Now’.  Although both headlines send out the same basic message the first headline tells the reader exactly how they will benefit in just 4 powerful words.

– Provide a News Message – people will be more likely to read an article, blog post etc. if you make it seem like news.  Curiosity is a strong motivational trigger and by offering news leads in your headlines you can create an interest in your copy.  You don’t have to worry about creating actual news.  All you need to do is present your copy as news. For example you could advertise a pet food product to your customers with the headline ‘Introducing the Latest Innovation in Pet Nutrition’.

– How To Headlines – many people use the Internet to find out how to do things.  This means How To headlines are a very powerful way to entice browsers and make sure they are turned into readers.  Don’t forget that How To headlines should highlight the benefit you are trying to communicate. So for example ‘How to Make Money Online Now’ is much more punchy then ‘How to Set Up Your Own Business using the Internet’.

– Pose a Question – another good way to create enticing headlines is to pose a question to the browser.  This instantly reaches out and involves them to increase the chances of them reading on.  Ideally you should pose a question that the browser will answer ‘yes’ to.  They will then want to read more.  So for example you could ask ‘Need Tax Advice Fast? Find Experts Online Now’ or ‘Do You Make these 3 Mistakes on Marketing?


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.