Want to become an unbelievable headline writer?
Well, taken literally, that’s not a good thing.
If your headline is completely unbelievable, it’s not credible by definition. In which case, your response rate goes down, not up, no matter how fantastic a promise your headline makes.
See, making outlandish claims with your headline in order to attract attention is a sucker’s game. Even if you manage to score the click, you’re history when the reader discovers you can’t deliver on your promise, or you’ve pulled some lame bait and switch.
What you want to do is write a headline that’s almost unbelievable.
For example, take a look at this headline:
Wow, what a promise! Problem is, it’s completely unbelievable. Sure, you might get the most desperately optimistic souls reading until they figure out you’re full of it, but most people will shake their heads and move on without bothering. The headline is so incredible, it literally lacks credibility.
On the other hand, being too believable isn’t all that great either:
With Only 10 Hours of Work
Now, that’s perfectly believable, but not very compelling. In fact, this headline makes me want to give up blogging and become a shepherd.
What you need is something absolutely compelling that you can absolutely deliver on. It should border on the unbelievable, yet still be within the realm of possibility. You want people to keep reading, almost daring you to back up the claim in your headline.
Something like this:
That’s a pretty compelling headline if you’re a blogger. It’s also the headline from yesterday’s guest post from Willy Franzen. The specificity of the claim and the magnitude of the number sucks people right in, whether hopeful that the solution will work for them or simply seeking to verify the supporting information for the headline.
Willy’s article backed up the promise made by the headline with data, and provided the “how to” guidance for people to achieve similar results. In fact, the solution requires only changing one or two words in the blog sidebar.
So, an even more compelling headline might have been:
With This Single Tiny Tweak
Now you’ve just upped the specificity and made the headline that much more compelling. The promise is to not only show how to dramatically increase subscription rates, but to also demonstrate that the solution is quick and easy. It’s just a tad more unbelievable than before, which makes the curiosity factor hard to resist. But it doesn’t cross the line into completely unbelievable, and the headline is still completely supported by the content of the article.
Obviously this unbelievable technique can work for blog post titles, but it’s even more well-suited for landing page headlines. Take the time to find that fascinating element of your product or offer that borders on the unbelievable, and you may just find the perfect headline angle.
Just never forget that your headline is a promise you have to keep. If you can’t, you and your headline revert to completely unbelievable as soon as you let the reader or prospect down.
For more on headlines, check out the Magnetic Headlines series.