A step by step tutorial on how to write headlines that grab your readers by the eyeballs!
I think you will agree with me when I say that your goal as a blogger or writer is to craft captivating or irresistible headlines.
These are headlines that stir up your readers’ curiosity, and make them want to read your blog post.
Here are 5 quick tips to help you write irresistible headlines – amazing, captivating, creative and compelling headlines…faster.
How to write irresistible headlines
Let’s dive right in.
#1. Create a virtual infinite irresistible headlines swipe file.
Yes, there’s a swipe file made up of tested and proven headlines written by some of the best paid copywriters in the world. And best thing about it? It’s free. It’s even at your fingertips. Just google Cosmopolitan magazine covers, Reader’s Digest magazine covers, Psychology Today magazine covers, Money magazine covers or Elle magazine covers; click on ‘image’ and you will have access to some of the best and most irresistible headlines ever crafted.
These headlines are so good, they make us instantly want to pick up and buy these magazines on impulse.
As a copywriter, this is my virtual headline swipe copy file which I visit whenever I need inspiration for irresistible headlines. However, I don’t just copy and paste them. I use them as idea starters. I copy them with taste. And that’s what I recommend you do!
Here’s an example from Reader’s Digest:
Here’s another example from Cosmo:
And here’s one from Money:
#2. Write, write and write some more!
Why? Because practice makes perfect. The more headline practice you undertake, the better and more adroit you would become at writing irresistible headlines. Write 10-20 headlines per blog post. This practice will help to develop your writing muscles.
As I said in an earlier blog post, when it comes to writing to improve your writing, I can’t think of a better tip than Brian Clark’s 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer. He says:
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
#3. Use power words in both your headlines and subheads.
These are action words which trigger our emotions. When used properly, they can transform a headline from mediocre to irresistible. One word or phrase can excite your readers. Or make them curious, scared, furious or even arouse them. Then they stop. They act. They read on. They click. They do whatever you want them to do in your CTA. The right action word can instantly punch up any headline or marketing copy. Every word in your headline should have an assignment. Hear writing legend, Isaac Asimov: “If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what’s it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse.” Make your words work hard!
[endorsement cite=”Isaac Asimov”]If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what’s it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse.[/endorsement]
While power words in your headlines will get your readers to stop, and read the opening sentence, they do a different job in the subhead. Here their role is to make the reader stop and read the content, instead of just scanning through it. Click on the link below for examples of power words, which are grouped into the following categories: Anger| Curious | Inspirational | Fear | Energy.
In my experience as a copywriter, the 3 most powerful and emotional laden words in sales and marketing are ‘you’, ‘free’ and ‘guarantee’. Find a way to incorporate any of them into your headlines.
#4. Split test your headlines.
One great tool for testing your headlines is Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer, which will give you a rating for each headline that you type into it. The rating is based on the type of headline, the mix of words, the length, and more.
You can use it to test your headlines after you’ve already written them, or you can type them in as you brainstorm to see which are effective and which you can throw out. CoSchedule keeps a list of your headlines on the screen, so you don’t need to worry about losing them.
Here’s an example of how this works:
#5. Use the emotional marketing value (EMV) headline analyzer.
The EMV is a score that looks to assess how a group of words follows the emotional harmonics (underlying harmonics in language that are always interpreted with the same “emotional” reactions), and how likely they are to elicit an emotional response from a reader. The EMV headline analyzer is a free tool based on research that is made available by the Advanced Marketing Institute.
The EMV headline analyzer is easy to use. Simply copy and paste your headline into the box and it will give you a calculated score of your headline’s EMV Score. Here is the result for the headline for this blog post:
The Analyzer also provides an explanation of each score. Here’s the explanation for the headline used in this blog post:
This score indicates that your headline has a total of 40.00% Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Words. To put that in perspective, the English language contains approximately 20% EMV words. And for comparison, most professional copywriters’ headlines will have 30%-40% EMV Words in their headlines, while the most gifted copywriters will have 50%-75% EMV words in headlines. A perfect score would be 100%, but that is rare unless your headline is less than five words.”
Scores are also classified by three emotional types – intellectual, empathetic, and spiritual. The institute provides some details on each of these emotional types.
As an example, the emotional classification for this headline was spiritual and intellectual – a perfect fit for Astute Copy Blogging, as we are looking to promote products that both appeal to people at a deep emotional level and also requires reasoning and/or careful evaluation.
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What makes irresistible headlines?
A study by Outbrain, published by the Content Market Institute, provides the following interesting statistics about headline click-through rates:
- Headlines with 8 words do 21% better than average.
- Using a hyphen or colon will add 9% to your click-through rate.
- Thumbnails and images boost clicks by 27%, so use them on every platform you can.
- List posts tend to do better. Headlines that contain odd numbers have a 20% higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers.
- Headlines that end with a question mark do better.
- Headlines that end with three exclamation points get twice as many clicks as headlines with any other punctuation!
How to apply the 4 emotional motivators and influence triggers to create irresistible headlines
Described as the “guru’s guru”, and “the greatest copywriter in the world”, Gary Bencivenga knows one or two things about emotional motivators and influence triggers.
According to him, “The vast majority of products are sold because of the need for love, the fear of shame, the pride of achievement, the drive for recognition, the yearning to feel important, the urge to look attractive, the lust for power, the longing for romance, the need to feel secure, the terror of facing the unknown, the lifelong hunger for self-esteem and so on. Emotions are the fire of human motivation, the combustible force that secretly drives most decisions to buy. When your marketing harnesses those forces correctly you will generate explosive increases in response.”
From this we can distill four emotional motivators and influence triggers that can help us create irresistible headlines.
Here then are Bencivenga’s 4 emotional motivators and influence triggers. When confronted with them, we instinctively react in certain ways:
- Fear – This is one of the most powerful emotional motivators. Fear has the ability to grab and keep an audience’s attention. We react in one of two ways: fight or flight. Words like: ‘fooled’, ‘horrific’, ‘frightening’, ‘risky’ and ‘scary’ trigger this response.
- Attraction – Whatever our moral stand, sex sells. Always. Words like: ‘tantalizing’, ‘naughty’, ‘sexy’, ‘forbidden’, ‘lust’ and ‘naked’ would trigger a response.
- Self-centered – At a primitive level, everyone is a self-centered scallywag who only cares about him or herself. Here are some words that trigger this primordial response in us: ‘guarantee’, ‘moneyback’, ‘official’, ‘no risk’, ‘no obligation’, ‘no strings attached’, ‘no questions asked’, ‘try before you buy’, ‘cancel anytime’, ‘certified’ and ‘endorsed’.
- Curiosity. We are curious by nature, so we can’t help but want to find out. Research published by Harvard Business Review found curiosity to be one of the most powerful triggers for posts that go viral. Words that can trigger this response include: ‘confidential’, ‘backdoor’, ‘censored’, ‘insider’, ‘forbidden’, ‘unique’, little-known’, ‘hidden’, and ‘behind the Scenes’.
Here’s the deal. Your goal should be to harness these combustible forces that secretly drive most decisions to buy, by applying influence triggers and emotional motivators to your headlines!
Irresistible headlines in action: An example of a killer headline that went viral
The Unilever Dove video campaign, “Real Beauty Sketches | You’re more beautiful than you think” which explores the gap between how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves, was published on YouTube on April 14 2013.
It immediately went viral, garnering 29.4 million views, 7,800 comments and over 660,000 Facebook shares in ten days. It now has over 69 million views!
Here’s the video:
This is hardly surprising as it combines such power and emotional words as ‘you’, ‘real’, beauty’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘more’, to create that magical, irresistible and swoon-worthy sentence, which women can never tire of hearing: ‘You’re more beautiful than you think’!
Let’s take ‘you’, one of the most powerful words in sales. Scientific research has found that the brain’s cuneus, superior and middle temporal cortex, and middle frontal cortex all come to life when you hear or see your name. ‘You’ is a placeholder for your name. It works because it represents your name!
Not surprisingly, this headline comes up with an EMV score of 55.56%! This score is phenomenal, bearing in mind as we saw earlier, that it is only the most gifted copywriters who have 50%-75% EMV words in headlines.
Over to you
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to writing irresistible headlines? And what would you say this blog post makes possible for you as a blogger? Please leave a comment.
Join The Conversation
Kristi C McAllister says
This is super great info! I’ve been blogging about a year and I’m learning new things every day. Posts like this are so helpful to those of us who are still finding their way! Thanks for sharing!
Pedro Okoro says
Thanks for stopping by. Delighted you found the article useful. Good luck with your blogging ?
Great resource; I pinned this for future reference.
Thanks for sharing!
Pedro Okoro says
Delighted you found it helpful ?
Erika Ravnsborg says
Great tips. The best way to get a good headline is practice, practice, practice.
Pedro Okoro says
You’re so right – practice, practice and more practice always works 🙂
Thanks for joining the conversation.
Donna Merrill says
It’s great to read your post. I was busy with my projects, that’s the reason I was inactive a bit, specially reading & commenting was completely off.
But Anyways, Thanks for the interesting & informative read. Keep up the good work and enjoy the holidays.
A Very Happy New Year Pedro! Cheers
Headlines are sooo important. It’s the attention getter. Thank you for the tips!
Karen Monica says
I am always having trouble to write headlines that would attract the readers and at the same time give a rough idea about what the topic is about. Thank you for sharing these tips.
Stephanie Stebbins says
I am THE WORST at picking headlines. Thanks so much for this, so helpful!
Amy-Lynn Denham says
Great tips! As a writer, blogger, and career coach I see the benefits here. I love coschedule, personally, and use it to research almost every headline I put out.
Rebecca Sanchez says
I love this post – and the true nugget I picked up: write 10-20 headlines per post! I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that any sooner – but with all of the SEO research you can get hooked into thinking there’s only one way. I like the creative process you are outlining – it’s perfect for writers!
Thanks for the great tips. This is really helpful for writing articles. Keep up the good work.
Maartje van Sandwijk says
I suck at writing headlines so these tips are definitely going to be useful for me 🙂
Shannan P says
These are such great tips! Writing good headlines can be such a challenge. Definitely will be referring back to this!
Dana Brillante-Peller says
Such a great set of ideas in this post. I’ve used emotional headlines before, but I wasn’t aware of the actual tool available to help you generate them. So handy!
Thank you for sharing this with us! Some great info which will really help me and inspire me when writing my blog posts in the future. It is really interesting reading about emotional motivators too!
So important to keep writing and let those creative juices flow until the right one lands! I try to keep in mind that human beings will be reading the headlines so tap into those emotions and keep it catchy 🙂
As an aspiring writer. This is one of the guides that I really needed. This can be very helpful for me.
Clare Minall says
Writing a headline is really important. This is where you can catch the eye of your target audience. Such a helpful post.
Helen Neale says
I can still remember when I land my first blog. Writing a headline is very hard for me. It is so important to have great headlines on your blog or articles.
Elizabeth O says
Such great tips! Headlines are really important and you’ve got some amazing suggestions for everyone.
Purva Bhatia says
This is great! Getting the right headline is so important. As ex-editor of a magazine, I can tell it’s not an easy job! For blogs, it’s all the more essential to have headings that will attract more readers. These tips are quite useful.
Abu Zaid says
Nice Tips. One of my posts is just like your article. Thank you for sharing and I hope it is useful for me and other bloggers on writing blog articles.
Bindu Thomas says
These are some great tips! I pinned this for future reference.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing this article
You have a really good website
Pedro Okoro says
Great to see you here.
Thanks for the kind words. Do share the news about our website, if you really like it that much 🙂