How To Write Eye-Catching Headlines that Transform Browsers into Buyers

Headlines that Sell

In order to stop readers in their tracks, capture their attention through every word of your copy, and persuade them to click that “Add to Cart” button without a second thought, you need to master the “headline reading psychology” of your soon-to-be customers.

Once you understand why magnetic headlines pull readers in, you’ll know how to do it for your own sales pages, every time. Follow along with me for the next ninety seconds and I’ll show you exactly how you can turn a casual browser of your sales page into an avid reader, curious to drink in your copy until ultimately hitting the “Buy” button.

First, get relevant: Tell your readers’ they’re in the right place

So many people create clever turns of phrase hoping to pull people into their sales copy and wonder why their catchy headlines just don’t work. The answer is simple: Readers are busy people, and they don’t have time to study your sales letter to see if it’s relevant to them. Instead, they rely on you to do that work for them.

But how do you do that? The answer to that is simple as well: You ensure your headline is clear, not clever, telling the reader exactly what your sales copy is poised to deliver.

Use specific keywords that show without a doubt that your page is relevant to people with a specific need or a specific problem – and don’t over-think it. If you’re a blogger, you probably already do this with your post titles, so apply that same thinking to your headlines.

For example, look at the title for this post – it’s about “how to write headlines.” (Ever wonder why you always hear such high praise for “How to” headlines? It’s because they’re extremely relevant by nature. Keep in mind, however, that a “how to” headline might not be the most powerful choice for your particular sales page.

When it’s time to write your headline, think of the primary, top-of-mind problem or result your readers are after and make that the foundation of your headline. Do this right, and your readers will automatically know that they’re in the right place – and save your cleverness for later.

Next, add the carrot: Attach a powerful result to your headline

After you establish relevance to your readers’ immediate needs, you need to help your readers connect to a mouth-watering result that comes from addressing that need. The often quoted “How to ____ so you can ____” is a great example of bridging relevance to result.

Never forget that your readers aren’t looking for products or services – they’re looking for beneficial outcomes, and the relevant keywords you write into your headline are often the means to that outcome. So ask yourself why your readers want to take that relevant action, and you’ll be guided to a promise or two that you can make in your headline.

I’ll use this post as an example again – you’re reading this far because you want to know how to write headlines, but what you’re really after is getting people to buy from your sales page. Look at your browser title bar and you’ll see I worked that into this post’s headline as well.

Finally, dress it up: Add emotionally stirring and action words to your headline

Once you’ve married relevance to outcome, it’s time to add a little flavor to your headline by hand-picking compelling words to make those two features “pop.”

In this post I modified “headlines” with the adjective “eye-catching” to add some life to the text. I’ve also used the powerful transitive verb “transform” to suggest actionable change, which intensifies the promise of desired results.

Pick words that make the relevant keywords or the desired results seem more powerful and attainable – or simply add a third component to the headline like a timeframe or a variation of “easy” or “simple” (if it applies).

I could go into additional examples here, but you’ll find all that you need in the Magnetic Headlines series. Take a few moments to read through the posts there with a more educated eye, looking for how each example uses relevance, results, and powerful modifiers to make you want to read each post to the very end.

Which, now that you think about it, you’ve just done with this post. :-)

Sharpen your skills – how can you improve your own headlines?

If you want to get better at writing sales page headlines today, take another ninety seconds right now and use these three tips on a recent headline you’ve created. In the comments below, show us your original – and improved version – and get those headline writing muscles working!

About the Author: Dave Navarro is a product launch manager who can’t wait for you to join the 7,000+ people using his free workbooks in the Launch Coach Library (a crowd favorite in the Third Tribe forums).

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Comments

  1. Hey Dave,

    I’m always visiting the Magnetic Series in this blog. I like to study it all the time. This is an area that I’m constantly wanting to improve on. Thanks for reminding me why I’m studying this so much.

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  2. It’s funny because often I think of a headline first before I even flesh out a blog post. Other times, the writing comes to me easily but the headline takes FOREVER to come up with.

    I started a series on my blog called Momcomm Monday (bringing marcom tips to blogging moms). The headline I ended up with was:

    How to Improve your Writing (Without Improving Your Writing)

    At first, it was something like “How to be a better writing by learning to format” but I found that was a snore. The one I ended up with was MUCH better because it was a “how to” plus it implied that it doesn’t take much effort to improve your writing (which in this set of tips is true).

  3. Dave, what’s your take on flipping the template?

    Ex. How to Transform Browsers into Buyers With Eye-Catching Headlines.

    or dropping the “writing” and “to”?

    Ex. How Eye-Catching Headlines Transform Browsers into Buyers

    Rock on,
    Shane

    • Shane, one of the three headlines is the better, and only split testing can say for sure. I think your two alternatives are solid contenders.

    • By the way, just for fun I thought I’d run the three headlines through “Glyphius”… which used to be a big deal headline tool for copywriters before everybody found out that James Brausch was a douchebag.

      How To Write Eye-Catching Headlines that Transform Browsers into Buyers – Score: 117

      How to Transform Browsers into Buyers With Eye-Catching Headlines – Score: 93

      How Eye-Catching Headlines Transform Browsers into Buyers – Score: 124 (Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner)

      Anyways, though the creator is in question, I think the tool is still somewhat useful though by no means an authority. But it’s fun to use nonetheless.

    • The good news is, the more you build a reputation with your readers via great content, the more that *every* one of those headlines can be winners.

      People will read because they’ve come to trust you. :-)

  4. Hi Dave,

    Terrific post! I always struggle with coming up with attractive headlines. In fact, the headline is the first thing I think about when creating content. I knew that, in order to attract visitors, I needed to dress it up and I had always tried to remain clear in my headlines. However, I would have never thought about attaching a result to my headline. That actually makes sense. I’m going to have to play with this idea more often.

    Christina

  5. The first article I thought of was one I did on regressions a month or so ago.

    My very original headline was “Regression 101″. I turned that into “Regression Made Easy” on the blog, but after reading your article, the solution’s pretty easy isn’t it.

    “How To Interpret Regression Data And Make Better Business Decisions”

  6. Thanks Dave

    A logical way to create headlines.
    Whilst reading it I was putting into practice with my next blog post.

    Timely info. Thanks

    Dwayne

  7. Good one. You can actually do well by mixing two great headlines as well.

    I showed people how to do that with Seth Godins articles and headlines to make your own original.

    Seth Godin Remixed

  8. Great tips Dave!

    I was just thinking about this topic this morning as I was going through my inbox. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a headline, like the difference between:

    The Secret to My Success (one I actually received this morning)

    and

    The Secrets to Your Success (one consonant and changing one word makes a huge difference)

    Still not my kind of headline but a small difference can be so important.

    And, as you stated, keywords are vitally important.

    Additionally, the quickest way to Google’s heart and a page one listing for an article or video is a keyword rich headline, one appropriate to the subject matter that follows!

    As always, very helpful advice. Thank you!

    John Zajaros

  9. I am working on a webinar that focuses on redemption game room merchandise pricing and game payouts. Here was my orginal headline…
    How to Price Your Games and Prizes

    After reading this posting I am considering this.
    How to Price Games and Prizes to Make More Money.

    It is a little wordy but has more of a benefit statement. Let me know your thoughts.

  10. Great advice. I think a turn off for me is when the headline is great and the content, the first paragraph does not match the headline…I off and runnnnnniiiinng away! I looked at an upcoming post I am doing and completely changing it now…the new post will be better…THANKS

    • Absolutely, Michelle — there’s that great piece of copywriting advice from Joe Sugarman — the headline’s only purpose is to get the first line read. The first line’s only purpose is to get the second line read. Etc.

      Your headline can be peach pie and ice cream, but if the rest of the copy is a disappointment, you won’t see any benefit.

  11. Good info, the headline is a big magnet, such a let down when there is such a great header and you think you’ve found what you are looking for. Only to be let down by a quick passing article which barely touches on the header subject.

    Stuart
    http://stuartmcminigal.com

  12. Great title for this post! It got my attention more than any other title has gotten my attention in a long time. If the title for this post is that good, the suggestions in the post should be great. Thanks Dave!

  13. Great post Dave..

    I liked your idea of telling people they’re in the right place with your headline – readers are busy and that’s the perfect place to let them know exactly what they’re gonna be getting if they continue down the sales page..

    …your headline was really good, too by the way – I see you “walk the walk”…

    thanks for the info
    talk soon
    Hector

  14. I absolutely love headline posts. They are so difficult to get right, and the more I read about them, the more I think I’m going to do it. I’m using this post when writing my headline for tomorrow.

    Thanks for a great post.

  15. Really grest post Dave,

    You are absolutely right! Your headline is the most important aspect of your sales page and getting the first attention of your visitors is very important.

    I will begin to utitlize these tips when writing my blog posts now!

  16. Hi Dave.

    I’m curious what you have to say regarding the length of your headlines. I find that shorter headlines, especially when used as subject lines, are more effective in getting click thrus. While your headline certainly is engaging, it’s extremely long. Only half of it shows up in my email browser.

    Do you have any insights into the appropriate length of headlines?

    Jamie

    • You do want to make sure your headline is short enough to fit on a subject line; at the same time, for email broadcasts your relationship with the list is more important.

      Get them to trust you explicitly via solid content, and they’ll open no matter what the subject is.

    • Excellent point Dave. In fact, that’s what tomorrow’s post is about.

      Jamie, context matters. Dave is writing about sales page headlines here, which don’t suffer from space limitations. So, there’s more room to fully express a full results-orientated beneficial promise.

  17. I love headlines – creating, testing, tweaking, and analyzing them. It’s a ton of fun…

    …but then sometimes I get lazy. It doesn’t happen with my copywriting, but it does happen quite a bit when I blog. And it’s kind of embarrassing, especially since I wrote an eBook on Headlines.

    Here are the two most recent headlines on my blog, both of which were borderline lazy:

    -How To Make An Offer Your Prospects Can’t Refuse
    -Is Your Guarantee Costing You Sales?

    Now, I’ll let you decide. Was my laziness okay? These are pretty stock headlines that ‘get the job done’, so to speak. The reader knows they’re in the right place, there’s some sort of benefit, and a touch of emotion. But it’s up to you… would another option, which could possible take 20-30 minutes to come up with, be worth it?

    • @Chad: It shouldn’t take 30 minutes. You CAN be lazy, yet kill lazy, assumed, and unnecessary words… like “make” and “costing”

      How to Craft an Irresistible Offer (your prospect is a given)
      Is Your Guarantee Tanking Sales?

    • Chad, here’s the thing: the more you practice this, the less time it takes with future headlines.

      It’s like touch typing – slow, deliberate work up front, for the payoff of speed later.

      It also helps to cultivate a growing headline swipe file to give you more frames of reference.

  18. 1. Think positive, get happy

    2. How to improve your mindset so you can be happy

    Not sure which one works. One is to the point, the other seems stronger for a headline however.

  19. Hi. I just found your site, and the very information I need.

    Contrary to Shane’s point, it takes me forever to write an article, even if I know what I’m talking about. My brain gets distracted with the nuances, and the “on the other hand” distractions. I expect It’ll get better with practise – and time.

    Sometimes I write ‘tease’ headlines that I hope will make readers curious, but I could be kidding myself!

    Oh yes – Love the site, and have shared on Facebook

  20. Perhap off topic (but part of a related conversation)…while working on copy for multiple websites and social media channels, having arguments around the office about what “style” we ought to be using in terms of grammar, word usage, more “hip” terms, etc. Some clients find things too casual, others too formal. Can anyone recommend a good guide to be using these days. Is there an equivalent to AP, Chicago Style Manual, etc. for this medium.
    Enjoying what I am reading here thus far. Thanks.

  21. Catchy headlines has always been one of my weaknesses, but every now & then I come up with something that makes up for all the duds. Great article, thank you!

  22. These are fantastic tips! I am going to check out the Magnetic Headline series right now!

    Thank you!

  23. This is a seriously useful post, Dave. I’ve come to the online world – and marketing – from a place where I never had to overtly sell myself before. When people meet me in person or by telephone, I rarely lose a sale. I’m having to learn that online I need to be much more overt about conveying that I really understand my audience.

    Reading your article and scanning some of my recent post headlines, I can see that I am often omitting either to say something about the benefit, or to put emotional juice into the equation. I can also see how I need to sex things up a bit more to engage people.

  24. Excellent! Thanks for the great tips and advice.

    Michael

  25. I keep hearing that it’s best to write your headline before the rest of your content, but for me that always results in weak content that’s really hard to write.

    The headline sells the content. It’s a promise to a reader that what follows will satisfy the expectation created by the headline.

    Just like you don’t create an ad campaign before you’ve created a product, likewise it’s hard to come up with a really good headline without content for it to sell.

  26. You’re right about faithful readers. Once I’ve been captivated by a blogger, I click through regardless of the headline, though I usually go back to study it after I’ve read the post. Learning process, I hope.

  27. Andy Richards :

    I like this article. Some good food for thought in developing headlines that get people to take notice. It can also help to remind us as we write to not just give information but to show why this information is beneficial to the reader.

  28. Some great tips here Dave. I always find it difficult coming up with attention grabbing headlines.

  29. We love using ClickTale to watch visitors “read” our headings and headlines (a surprising number of people read with their mouse!).

  30. Dave,

    Great post, and solid “how to” content. Thanks.

    I’ve run into an issue with my blog post headlines, which I know are in a different context than you’re discussing, but the skillset is the same. Let me know if I’m just painting myself in a corner:

    I have several series running on my blog, and I’m trying to build some keyword juice for Google by keeping the post titles consistent. (For example, “Spruce Up Your Copy – Get Excited” and “Instant Expert – How to Write What These Markets Need”) But it’s totally jamming up the power of my titles because I’m putting the series title first.

    Any idea if I’m going to get more long-term value from the series headings or from focusing on more powerful individual post titles?

  31. Hi Dave,
    Damn right that readers are busy and the headline has to be clear and strong. My own issue is that I’ll inevitably corrupt your advice, the last article I wrote had the following really random headline:

    ‘How to Train your Dragon and get your Mother-in-Law off your Back’
    It told the readers virtually nothing about the subject of the article and I doubt that anyone without loads of free time would have actually read on.

    I’ll start taking your advice, it must be the right way to go. Otherwise why would I have just dropped what I was doing to read your post?

  32. After reading your post, Dave, I’m considering changing the title report from:
    Get Jodina’s Free Report: “50 Ways to Accelerate Your Learning Curve” to
    Get Jodina’s Free Report: “How to Supercharge Your Study Time So You Can Learn Faster While Having More Fun”
    What do you think?

  33. I need to take a brief moment to say I love this blog. Why? Because you talk about what really matters.

    I think the best headline tip I ever heard (to be fully integrated with the headline tips you shared here, of course!) is to pretend you’re writing for Twitter. You only have a small amount of space, and if you don’t use it properly they’re going to move on to the 98 other opportunities (and counting) that have piled up in the past .3 seconds.

  34. It is easy to dress it up to get more attention from readers :-) But, that is a great idea to follow

  35. @Jamie Ortiz and Dave’s comment: I had three copyblogger emails in my inbox. It’s Saturday, I’ve got time and it was the “How to Write Eye-catching Headlines” part of the subject line that got me to read Dave’s post first. I will read all of them because I feel like I have a relationship with copyblogger and the content is always good. Sometimes better than others. Thanks Dave.

  36. eye catching headlines are difficult for me…need to improve in this field…you article proofs a good help…thnks…will continue to read your articles

  37. I’d never thought of this! How important is a headline of a post? Thank you for sharing this with us.

  38. Hi. Excellent points- I sometimes ‘get lazy’ with headlines (with you there Chad) and it was good to be reminded to link in results and emotion.

    One thing I tend to do with my headlines is to pull in a topical news or celebrity – often using the trends feature on Twitter. So, for example, if I was writing a post on great headlines, and that day Paris Hilton had been in the news for drug possession I might put “How To Make Better Headlines Than Paris Hilton”.

    My worry in doing this is that it’s only relevant to that day. Like all news it becomes dated within hours. What do you think? Is this something you would do?

    Chris

  39. My most recent headline before reading you post was this

    “How To Make Your Legs Compliment Magnets!”

    It was written for a blog on leg wear and hosiery that I write for my company.

    I noticed that it doesn’t have the stronger adjectives or the transitive verbs you mentioned, but it does have stuff about magnets! It’s a coincidence, I swear!

    I think headlines work best on me (and for me) when they have some enticing mystery about them, something you absolutely have to know about, even if its not the thing you’d normally search for.

    Thanks,
    Kyle

  40. I have quickly begun to realise that you have to be able to offer a headline that is going to stand out from the millions of other versions of the story that there are out there on the internet.

    The football news industry is hard to be unique with really as the chance for creative license becomes limited very quickly.

    Great post, thanks.