On average, 5 times as many people read the headline as the body copy.
In fact, a headline is more than just a quick line of text that tells us what stories and articles are about. An effective headline nails your readers’ ATTENTION and INTEREST when they are flipping through a magazine, opening a mail or walking down the street.
An effective headline whets your readers’ appetite and gets them to commit some of their time to read the ad because they may find the offer in the headline enticing or even arousing.
So before you write your headline, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is your target audience?
- Who are you communicating to?
- What is the type of languaging that will motivate your readers to respond to your promise, invitation or offer?
- What is your story about?
- Is your story interesting enough to hold your readers’ attention?
- How do you want your readers to react to your call to action?
So What Makes an Effective Headline?
An effective headline:
- Not just stands out – It offers clear information and describes exactly what your offer, service or product is about, because most people, especially Asian readers, don’t want to spend time solving puzzles.
- Is concise – because most people hate to read long headlines. Understand that most people would rather scan for key words that matter to them. So if your headline is too long (I’d put it to more than 18 words), readers won’t read it at all and will move on to another section of your ad.
- Is more focused towards selling than being clever – One of the most common mistakes people make when they first start writing headlines is being too clever. One possible reason is their exposure to what they’ve seen, read or heard…in magazines, or on tv and radio. While witty headlines peppered with puns, humor and clever wordplay attract the attention of judges in advertising competitions, in the real world of sales and business, not many people have the time to think about and understand what your “clever” headline is trying to say. In the worst case scenario, all that clever wordplay and humor could work against an inexperienced writer who is less skilled in the art of subliminal advertising. Always remember that the purpose of your headline is to get your sales message clearly across. Sales matter. Awards are secondary.