Marketers are faced with the challenge of getting their content read, both offline and online. Consumers are exposed to roughly 1,500 ads or brand communications daily, making it difficult for marketers to cut through the clutter of information. Aside from creative marketing and design strategies, and interesting, eye-catching visuals, Marketers need to rely on effective headlines to gain readers attention, drawing them into the body copy, in hopes the reader will react to the copy by performing an action, such as make a purchase or visit a website.
It’s not a mystery that a good headline will draw your reader into your marketing piece. The real puzzle is, what type of headline will actually cut through the clutter and engage the reader long enough to get them to read the marketing copy?
As a marketer, you’ve been schooled on testing your marketing message until you discover what works and generates sales or leads. However, testing your message can be costly, especially for small business owners who do not have big marketing budgets. According to the business classic, Testing Advertising Methods by John Caples, there are four types of headlines that generate reader interest. Knowing these types of headlines can help save you time and help generate reader interest in your product or service.
4 Headline Types that Generate Reader Interest
Self-Interest – Of the four types of headlines that generate reader interest, self-interest headlines are considered to be the most important. This is because people want to know the benefit they will receive if they read your copy. Is your product, service or company helping the reader solve a problem, save money, or simplify their life in some way?
An example of a self-interest only headline: “You Can Win Groceries For A Year!” or “Learn How We Guarantee You A Tax Return This Year!”
Both headlines above speak to the self-interest of the reader. The first headline explains how the reader can win FREE groceries for a whole year, thereby saving money. The second headline tells the reader how they will receive money back on their taxes, hinting they will not have to PAY any taxes.
News – The second important type of headline that attracts readers is the News headline.Newspapers and television news programs have perfected this type of headline. Their very survival has been based on the front-page headline. However, advertisers and marketers use the News headline to their advantage to attract readers and lure them into the advertising copy.
An example of a news headline may read like this: “Hundreds of Lives Saved at a Southern California Manufacturing Company Because They had the XYZ Alarm System Installed.”
Curiosity – Curiosity is the third type of headline that attracts a reader’s interest. However, unlike the self-interest and news headlines, curiosity used alone may not easily attract the reader’s attention as it would if paired with either a self-interest or news headline. Let’s take a look at an example below.
“How She Lost Weight” is a basic headline using curiosity.
“How She Lost Weight Using This One Simple Trick” is more alluring because it implies a benefit to the reader, “Simple”, meaning the reader does not have to spend or waste a lot of time trying to lose weight.
“How She Lost Weight in 90 Days, Using This One Simple Trick, and Kept It Off!” is even more enticing to the readers self-interest and even has a hint of news to the headline.
The last of the 4 headline types that generate reader interest is the:
Quick and Easy Way – We live in a fast paced world where we expect everything instantaneously. We have fast food restaurants, quick check-in’s at airports, and even drive-thru marriages in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA). We even have app’s that help simplify our lives and speed up processes, like online banking.
Headlines that show something as being quick and simple or easy will generate reader interest. Tell your reader how they can achieve or receive something fast and easy, and you’re on your way to increasing your response rate. The above example headline types show this concept.
Here’s another example of the quick and easy headline: “Give us 10 minutes of your time and we’ll show you how to make extra income in 3 easy steps.”
This headline has several types of headlines working together: the quick and easy way type of headline as well as the self-interest and the curiosity types of headlines.
Headlines are the gatekeeper to your body copy. Good headlines can lure readers into your copy and help generate interest for your product or service or help tell the reader about your cause. As a general rule for headline length, the shorter and more concise, the better. However, for print there is no specific rule as long as you can say what you need to say and do so effectively.
Headlines for online reading follow a different rule if you want to hold readers attention and get them to read your copy. The shorter and more concise, the better the chance of hooking the reader. For more information on writing concise headlines, see the article titled,: World’s Best Headlines: BBC News on the Nielsen Norman Groups website.