Do I Have To Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines?

Updated: May 21, 2019
by Ray Alexander

Headlines are gateways. Only a good headline gets people to open your page, open your email, motivates them to read on and ultimately, make a purchase. If you think, yeah, whatever... Then listen to this; says that on average, 80% of readers will read headline copy but only 20% will read the rest, and traffic can vary by as much as 500% based on the headline. So you see how headlines should never be undervalued. They're not just titles but they almost "say it all".

There are enough tips to write attention-grabbing headlines available online, and here's a selection of 6 tips - nice way of saying it. I simply got them from some other sites, frankly speaking. Anyways (lol), learning the whole copywriting technique can be all mind-boggling, but we all know we need to learn some of it.

...Myself included, obviously.

Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines

#1 Headline 4 x U's

The 4 x U's is a term often referenced by copywriters - they are; Urgent, Unique, Useful and Ultra-Specific. When all of these 4 key elements are contained in your headline, it's considered to be most engaging with the audience.

  • Urgent - by incorporating a sense of urgency into your headline, people will be encouraged to take a quick decision and immediate action. However what you should never overemphasize it or misrepresent it. For example, don't say "there are only 48 spots left" or "offer ends in 6 hours" unless it's truly the case.
  • Unique - in other word, interesting. Information is already overloaded online and it's hard for anyone to create a phrase that's totally unique. But your headline should provide something fresh and new, and if it draws your audience's attention, the headline is successfully unique.
  • Useful - usefulness in your headline will give people a reason to read on. It should be the benefit that your readers/customers will receive. More about it later.
  • Ultra-Specific - a headline is a summary of the paragraphs directly underneath, or the whole content of the page. Therefore not only should it be relevant but it should also send a crystal clear message.

#2 Select The Right Words

Finding appropriate words can be often challenging. For example if your target audience is new internet marketing hopefuls, many of them don't consider themselves to be internet marketers. They're not looking to run a business, but they are looking to work from home (which is effectively a business). If you mention a business opportunity or "entrepreneurship" in your headline, you may be alienating them right from the beginning.

Similarly, jargons should be avoided if you're targeting brand-newbies, such as "lead generation", "conversions" "traffic" in your headline. You should only explain the terminologies in the paragraph should you need to.

Also Read: Thrive Headline Optimizer Review: You Have 2.6 Seconds!

#3 Don't Try To Be Creative

Creative titles can only confuse your readers or potential customers. Metaphors only work well if the hidden message really is instantly recognizable. Otherwise they can only obscure the actual content. Agree?

Headlines don't have to be creative, so don't spend too much time trying to come up with imaginative and artistic expressions, because at the end of the day, it's the content that determines the quality.

According to the survey carried out by BuzzSumo, the most used "three-word phrases" that gained the most Facebook likes, shares and comments are "...will make you". Other popular trigrams include "this is why" "can we guess".

BuzzSumo Stats

#4 Benefits, Not Features

Stating the feature of the product doesn't get enough people's attention. A fast car, for example. It doesn't mean that the car can get you anywhere faster - you'll only be caught for speeding. A vacuum cleaner with "5 x turbo speed" motor doesn't tell you whether it gets you to clean 5 times faster or not.

You need to make sure what kind of benefits your audience can receive from the product or the information you're providing. For example;

  • Instead of saying "NEW! 5 x Turbo Speed!", say "NEW 5 x Turbo Speed Will Dramatically Save Your Time".
  • Instead of saying "Drink 1/2 Gallon of Water Daily", say "1/2 Gallon of Water Will Keep You Fit".

(Don't know if a vacuum cleaner with a turbo speed motor really exists - just made it up! Sorry, but you know what I mean.)

#5 Use Power Words

A power word is a word that can evoke your audience's emotional response. These words can be positive such as "Winning, Stunning, Profitable, Success, Sensational, Trusted". Also can be negative such as "Bad, Sad, Disastrous, Atrocious, Heartbreakingly".

Power words are certainly effective to get your audience to pay attention, but you should always use them appropriately. For example the word "Guarantee" should not be used if it's not literally meant to be. If you repeatedly use words such as sensational and stunning, but the content doesn't explain why so, the whole message can lose its integrity.

Also Read: How To Write Effective Headlines – Cheat Sheet

#6 Use Sub-Headlines

A sub-headline is as you already know, usually displayed directly underneath the headline in a slightly smaller font. A sub-headline supports the headline. It can rephrase the headline with a little more detail, or add a supplemental explanation to it.

Sub-headlines really should not be underestimated. They are in fact essential elements because they make the whole page visually friendly (easy on the eyes), and also help the readers digest the content easier.

How To Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines

Just as anything else - practice makes perfect. From my own experience, email marketing job has helped me improve my headline writing skill a lot. Bad subject line severely affects the open rate, and a boring call-to-action text link makes the click rate significantly drop. The real-time stats on AWeber would tell me that each and every email swipe was make or break. If I over-exaggerated, the people would reply and call me a liar. It was a good Bootcamp for me (though I no longer do that anymore). So how to write attention-grabbing headlines - keep practicing and testing!

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About the author 

Ray Alexander

ASD. Recovering alcoholic. LGBTQ+ advocate. Semi-retired. 15+ years of web-designing experience. 10+ years affiliate marketing. Ex-accountant. I'm nice and real. Ask me if you need any help in starting up your home business.

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  1. Good tips. It is your original.
    Especially the last one about your email marketing is most interesting, I would like to know about it more. Good job, carry on.

    1. Thank you John! I’ve published quite a few posts about email marketing in the past, but if you could tell me what you’d like to know specifically, I can answer you at any time. Thanks for your comment.

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