13 Emotion-Based Headlines That Work

13

Last week’s post talked about why emotional benefits are critical to persuasive copy. But it’s one thing to talk about general concepts like “connection” or “fear,” and another to actually get these ideas into your writing.

In honor of Friday the 13th, I thought I’d give you 13 actual examples of emotional benefits you can use to persuade your readers. These emotional triggers have been used effectively in countless promotions, because they speak to underlying desires and fears that nearly all of us have.

I’ve paired each benefit with a sample headline to give you an idea of how the benefit might be used in context. Feel free to tweak, bend or just steal these headlines, or use them as jumping-off points for your own angle.

These aren’t the only effective emotional benefits by any means, but they include some of the most widely successful. (Don’t see your favorite benefit here? Share it with us in the comments.)

  1. When’s the Last Time a Cute Girl Checked You Out?
    Emotional benefit: feeling attractive and sexy

  2. Learn How to Stand Up to Your Boss (and Force Him to See What You’re Really Worth)
    Emotional benefit: feeling assertive and confident

  3. Your Grandkids Will Be Struggling to Keep Up with You
    Emotional benefit: feeling vital and energetic

  4. You’ve Worked Hard All Week–Now Indulge Yourself
    Emotional benefit: feeling pampered, justified entitlement

  5. A Limited Number of Spaces Are Still Available for Founders’ Circle Membership
    Emotional benefit: sense of belonging, exclusivity

  6. Are You Working Harder than Ever, but Still Worried About Downsizing and Layoffs?
    Emotional benefit: feeling in control of one’s own destiny

  7. The 20-Minute Read that Will Make You a Financial Genius
    Emotional benefit: feeling wealthy and powerful (also feeling smart)

  8. They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Keyboard–But Then I Began to Blog!
    Emotional benefit: feeling proud, sense of accomplishment (also being gigantic dork)

  9. How to Take Command of Any Meeting
    Emotional benefit: feeling respected

  10. The SecureWidget Alert System Keeps Tireless Watch Over Your Family
    Emotional benefit: feeling safe

  11. Is Your Child Emotionally Intelligent? Take This Test and Find Out
    Emotional benefit: feeling like a good parent

  12. Reconnect With Your Friends and Family on this Incredible Three-Day Retreat
    Emotional benefit: feeling of loving connection

  13. How to Survive (and Yes, Even Thrive) in a Recession
    Emotional benefit: feeling financially secure (note that this is subtly different from feeling wealthy and powerful)

You might notice that there’s a lot of potential for overlap. A headline can speak to “feeling in control of one’s own destiny” at the same time it helps your reader “feel like a good parent.”

In your copy, take the time to address each benefit fully. Hit the one you think is most important first, then move on to the next. You’ll create a powerful one-two punch to the gut–and when you’re putting together persuasive copy, that’s a great thing.

Feel free to bookmark this page at del.icio.us for future reference.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is CMO of Copyblogger Media and founder of Remarkable Communication. She’d love to hang out with you on twitter.

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Comments

  1. You told me I’d like today’s post and you were right- this is always something I have trouble with: I can turn features into benefits, but often, the copy is long-winded and not paired down enough.

    Also, it’s easy for me to spell the benefit out instead of letting it linger there for the audience to “get” on their own

    Your headlines target these emotional needs and desires without having to dumb it down. Thanks for the direction.

    Lawton Chiles
    Chiles Advertising

  2. Very clever, Sonia. Thanks for the great tips.

    A while back I posted a headline called ‘Why We Need YOU To Create’. The purpose, I suppose, was to make my readers feel special – I wanted them to realize how their unique style is important to the rest of us.

  3. These are quite concise, yet intriguing. I think they probably work best for a shorter copy sales letter or article. Having a longer headline that offers even more benefits may convince more people to spend their time reading it.
    SearchMarketingDallas.com

  4. I love the word “dork”. How many words are there that combine affection with a put-down? And, in case you care, I don’t think you are a dork. I truly like your writing and learn from your posts. Keep up the great work.

  5. @Neil, or you could also go with a header & subhead for a longer piece. Good point that sometimes you need a little space to get the full beneficial goodies across.

    @Phyllis, I love “dork” too. It has that nice punch-your-pal-in-the-arm feel. Thanks so much for such nice words, I am very glad you’re enjoying my work.

  6. I saw your message on Twitter and thought I’d check it out. These are great! I’ll be sure to Stumble this.

    I appreciate your work – I quoted you a couple of times in my recent white paper about writing in a web 2.0 world (yes, it’s as dorky as it sounds).

    Have a great weekend!

  7. It makes me think I should start with the emotional benefit first and then work backward to the headline. I haven’t done that before although I typically write the headline after the blog post.

    Good idea!

  8. Sonia,

    Great ideas. I’m seeing a matrix where these emotions are paired with the 5 senses instantly creating 65 headline possibilities right at one’s finger-tips.

    Hmmm… Looks like I’ve got some work to do this weekend…

    Thanks for posting this.

    Robert

  9. I’ve bookmarked this one for reference when making next week’s posts. Thanks for the benefit list!

    This goes well with Michael Martine’s post on power questions to ask before writing.

  10. These are great emotional headlines to draw a reader into what you have to say.

    Not mentioned here is the parallel in the advertising world; next time you watch TV or listen to the radio, pay attention to the commercials which undoubtedly passed a series of consumer tests to similarly draw you in to hopefully buy a product.

    The irony of this entire page is directly underneath I am staring at a Google ad with the headline, “How to Write Killer Ads.”

  11. There is a lot of irony to be found in this page.

  12. Hi Sonia – Thanks for this great list. Really very informative. If I can add in 1 more to this list which is a sure shot success more often than not:

    What you need to do to (make money, be successful, get women easily, etc.).

    This headline usually captures instant reader attention and also builds certain credibility by portraying the blogger as an expert in something. Again, this may at times fit into the “Emotional Headings” section or otherwise.

    Just my to cents!

  13. Thanks for this…you got me excited! Once again stirring up the possibilities of mixing and matching.

  14. Some of the headlines here are very clever! Thanks!

  15. This is wonderful. As a new blogger these will most definitely help me out. Thank you.

  16. Hi Sonia! You don’t know me, but want to let you know this is a FANTASTIC and extremely useful post! Every week I’m looking for new ideas for ‘subject lines’ for enewsletters to our sales reps. Of all the articles I’ve read about writing headlines, I believe this one is the one I’ll be coming back to and learning from through shameless adaptation. Thank you for writing this. What can I do for YOU?

    Emmon Scott
    Arden Companies

  17. When I read headlines like these it makes me feel like I shouldn’t read what’s under the title.

  18. Great list! I may have to steal… uh I mean borrow one or more of these.
    Thanks

  19. Great in sight on headlines. I like the fact that it is as simple as taking one or two good points in your articles.

    I have never been good at writing headlines. I will take your advice, take my time, and certainly get better at it.

  20. Hi Kyledeb: You say you feel like you SHOULDN’T read what’s under these headlines — and I’m kind of curious about why you feel you shouldn’t. Do you mean you feel these headlines are implying content you feel you shouldn’t read on the job, or for ethical reasons? Something else?

  21. As I read down the list of titles, I immediately felt the emotional pull, and noticed similar titles used on other blogs, which got my attention almost immediately.

  22. nice article, thanks. i anew comer in this blog, i like yours blog.

  23. very valuable new way to look at creating headlines. we constantly fret over our newsletter headlines. sometimes they take longer to write than the body content.

  24. OK… it’s official. I shamelessly stole one of these great headlines today as the subject line for an email blast to chefs/cooks I want to have take a product survey.

    The headline I pilfered was #5 — I just substituted Founders Circle Membership with the name of my testing program! I tried to edit and/or improve on it but it was too good to change.

    Thanks from a now addicted Headline Bandit!

    “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a marvelous friendship” (with this post)

  25. @Emmon, that’s what I like to hear! Glad you made good use of it. :)

    @oddpodz, the power of a great headline is worth the sweat. I sympathize–I am not a natural headline person myself, they take some brain damage on my part.

  26. I enjoyed reading this post on headlines…….its been very helpful

  27. I am working on doing a better job of this. Terry Dean shared the 37 emotional benefit to be aware of when blogging. Thanks Simone.

  28. Let’s take this beyond headlines! These are also great for lecture/webinar titles and tweets that link to other content.

    Thanks for sharing them and emphasizing the need for expressing an emotional benefit.

  29. I have to beg my clients and readers alike to write posts for their blogs, even though they know what content will do for their businesses without my input.

    So I will try some variations of these to get them to take action on their own. Of course…if any of you fine people have any ideas on how to get the blinders off…I am all ears!

  30. This is the perfect post I was looking for, thanks! How to create emotion in others is what drives sales that’s for sure!

  31. I know this is an OLD post, but I recently “discovered” copyblogger and I absolutely live it! I am learning a lot here!

    Thanks Sonia for the sample headlines and the respective emotional benefits. Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with “catchy” headlines. I will certainly refer to them for ideas and inspiration!

    For any copy to succeed, connecting with the reader is critical. Once you get that connection with a reader on an emotional level, it becomes easy to sell them whatever you are selling or to ge them to subscribe to whatever idea that you are supporting.

  32. Sonia, these are awesome headlines. I’ve been in search of some catchy headlines to make use of a couple of “outrageous” marketing ideas. I see some here that I can modify to fit my needs. Never really thought so much about the emotional aspect of the headline, but it makes a lot of sense.

    Great job!
    Margo Thomas