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Are you looking for information on how to write headlines that grab attention and persuade at first glance?

Perhaps you’ve invested in copywriting courses promising powerful headlines but ended up disappointed.

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place.

Today, I’ll explain how to write effective headlines that work for your blog posts, videos, and advertising campaigns.

You’ll learn both basic and advanced techniques and understand the difference between content headlines and ad headlines.

This is the advanced, comprehensive guide you’ve been searching for, and best of all, it’s completely free.

Let’s get started!


What Is a Headline


Before diving into the specifics of this lesson and understanding how to construct effective headlines, I imagine some may need to first grasp what a headline actually is in practice.

Many beginners in the marketing world deserve to fully understand all the elements that will help them promote their business.

If you’re one of them, before proceeding further, read the blog post What Is a Headline that explains all the foundational concepts of headlines.

You’ll learn what they are and why they’re so important.

Don’t continue reading without first checking out the blog post I just linked.


The 3 Rules for Writing Attention-Grabbing Headlines


As you read in the introductory blog post I linked earlier, your headline should primarily do three things:

  • 1. Capture your audience’s attention.
  • 2. Compel them to “dive into” your copy.
  • 3. Ensure they read the first paragraph.

The key lesson for crafting successful headlines is this: You don’t need everyone’s attention, just the people who might be interested in your product.

Be as precise as possible.

This way, you’ll reach those who are actually likely to buy from you.

Your reader should feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

Here’s a practical example: Imagine you’re launching a advertising campaign using Facebook Ads.

Your goal is to reach people interested in dieting.

You’ve written a blog post with the best weight loss strategies.

Now, it’s time to choose a headline.

A vague one like “Learn things your doctor isn’t telling you” might attract clicks out of curiosity, but many won’t be interested in losing weight at all.

These clichéd titles, where supposedly highly qualified professionals aren’t telling their clients something, just don’t work anymore – they’re for charlatans.

I despise charlatans and want to educate professional entrepreneurs.

With a headline like that, you’d waste tons of dollars on advertising that could be better spent.

Instead, with “Discover 3 Effective Weight Loss Strategies to Shed Pounds Fast,” you’d attract people genuinely interested in what you offer.


Now, you absolutely need to know the three rules for creating magnetic headlines:

  • 1. Uniqueness
  • 2. Specificity
  • 3. Utility

Rarely will you manage to combine all these elements into a single headline.

In reality, even just one can suffice.

It all depends on your audience.

Let’s get specific about your perfect headline:

Must be Unique

Why should someone buy your product if it’s just like your competitor’s?

Consider that the market is now crowded with many competitors.

Customers are increasingly accustomed to advertising and bombarded with similar messages.

The first thing to do is to identify what truly sets you apart.

It could be an advantage that no other similar product can offer, a dedicated bonus for your customers, or simply a different tone of voice from others.

Your goal should be to catch the eye and leave a lasting impression.

To find your unique idea, read the blog post What Is USP – Unique Selling Proposition“.


Must be Ultra-Specific

The biggest fear of every novice copywriter is to be too specific.

They think that by appealing to everyone, they will gain more customers.

But reality is quite different.

What do you do with dead branches of a tree?

You cut them off.

That’s why you must “cut away” anyone who might unnecessarily clutter your “tree” without bearing fruit.

Identify the main problem of your buyer persona.

Find a concrete solution.

Offer it clearly.

A headline that isn’t specific enough might push away a potential buyer who knows what they want, while attracting a user who has no intention to purchase.

Read the blog post What Is a Buyer Persona to find your specific buyer persona and learn how to write persuasive texts for your target audience.

Must Offer a Benefit

No one will give you their time if you don’t offer them a concrete benefit in return.

It may seem like a trivial concept, but it’s not.

I have several readers who have written wonderful headlines but offered no benefit to the reader.

Consider that whoever reads your copy is investing their time.

They want a clear promise of receiving something in return for their investment (not just monetary, but even just leaving an email is an investment for them).

Of course, that promise must be kept with actions.

Never exaggerate; stick to the facts.

A disappointed customer is the worst publicity possible.

This benefit or advantage is called a lead magnet, which you can read about in-depth here: What Is a Lead Magnet“.

And What About Urgency…?

Some might notice the absence of urgency in this headline.

Today’s pseudo-trainers always teach to create headlines that scream urgency, promising “deals expiring today” or “unmissable discounts”.

But are we really naive enough to be swayed by these tired tactics?

Anyone who’s spent time in the online commerce sea knows that today’s promises often repeat themselves tomorrow and the day after.

Those “unmissable” offers aren’t so urgent when they reappear every week, every month, or every quarter.

It’s a perpetual dance of deadlines that stretch, always ready to encore.

Instead, I prefer “evergreen” products.

Ones that don’t rely on artificial deadlines to seem appealing.

Those that can be appreciated and used every day, creating continuous value for those who own and use them.

Urgency in marketing tastes like street vendors trying to prey on our fear of missing out.

Giorgio Mastrota, an Italian TV salesman
Giorgio Mastrota, a very famous and nice salesman on Italian TV. His “Offer expires tomorrow!” since the summer of 1995.
Source: PeriZona.it.

But we’re smarter than that.

We know that real value isn’t in today’s promises but in quality and consistency over time.

I don’t want to associate with the behind-the-scenes scam of those selling courses on “getting rich in a week”.

I’d rather stand with informed consumers who deserve respect and transparency.

So, let’s leave urgency tactics to the charlatans and smoke sellers.

I choose to focus on longevity and sincerity in the relationship with those who choose me.

Because truly valuable products don’t need false deadlines to shine.


Headlines for Blog Posts and Videos


A key distinction often overlooked is between headlines for blog posts and videos (content marketing) and headlines for advertisements.

Despite all the self-proclaimed business coaches treating all headlines the same because they don’t know any better, you can’t actually write a headline for content marketing using the same rules as for advertising headlines.

They are two completely different things, and treating them the same is a big strategic mistake.

So let’s look at the differences starting with the first ones, which are the headlines for content marketing.

Headlines for content marketing are closely tied to SEO, as they are the first thing search engines examine to index your content, both on your blog and YouTube.

Based on years of copywriting experience, my advice is to create headlines that match questions your target audience actually searches for.

Take for instance the title of this blog post you’re reading, “How to Write a Headline,” which receives around 500 searches per month in the United States.

SEO results of the title of this blog post
SEO results of the title of this blog post.

Unfortunately, conducting this type of research usually requires paid tools, which can be quite costly.

I personally use Ahrefs, currently the best tool on the market.

Alternatively, you can use the Google Keyword Planner, though it provides a range rather than precise search data.

It’s still better than nothing.

Always remember to search for questions, not just simple keywords.

For example, if you’re writing a blog post on the Mediterranean diet, search for phrases like “what mediterranean diet” and “how Mediterranean diet.”

This will give you plenty of question-based ideas that users are searching on Google.

Your blog post or video title should then be exactly that specific question.

Start with questions that have higher monthly searches and gradually move to more specific questions with fewer searches.

These less competitive topics will help your blog posts rank higher on Google.

Other Headlines Ideas

Sometimes you might need to write a blog post or create a video targeting a keyword with few monthly searches.

Don’t worry, go ahead and do it anyway.

If the content of that blog post is valuable, you should definitely write it.

Here are a few ideas for crafting headlines for content marketing:

  • How to […] in [3/7] Simple Steps
  • [3/7] Proven Tips for […]
  • The Ultimate Guide to […]
  • How to […]
  • How to […] (Even When Facing […])
  • How to […] While Also […]
  • How to […] Without […]
  • How to Become […]
  • [KEYWORD/KEYPHRASE]: A Beginner’s Guide to […]
  • The Art of […]: Tips and Tricks for […]
  • [3/7] Ways to […]



Headlines for Advertising


If you’ve felt somewhat restricted in content marketing due to SEO considerations, advertising gives you more freedom.

Here, you can unleash your creativity without space limitations, unless you’re constrained by platforms like Facebook Ads or Google Ads, which impose character limits.

While you can quickly generate headlines in content marketing, advertising demands more attention.

It’s the crucial part.

Don’t worry about length; include all key elements and make it as long as necessary.

Headline Templates for Advertising

“Free yourself from your [type of problem] once and for all”

Use this headline when: Your potential customer is well aware of a problem, which they can immediately identify… and which triggers
them instantly upon hearing it mentioned.

Where can you go from here?

Start by addressing the problem and any additional issues it causes or is related to.

Examples:

  • Dentist: “Free yourself from toothache once and for all”
  • Web Designers: “Get rid of website problems once and for all”

“Who else wants [type of problem]?”

Use this headline when: Your potential customer has a desire or goal of which they are fully aware, to the point of getting excited just hearing it mentioned.

Where can you go from here?

Start by talking about achieving the goal or the result and the benefits and advantages that will come from it.

Examples:

  • Chiropractor: “Who else wants to regain their health without taking medications?”
  • Bed and Breakfast: “Who else wants to spend a carefree weekend in the middle of nature?”

“Thousands of people have achieved [a result that seemed impossible] even though they thought it couldn’t be done”

Use this headline when: You have a product or service that can help your potential customers achieve a result they desperately desire but believe they can’t achieve.

You can demonstrate that many others were in their situation but, thanks to your product, they managed to reach that result.

Where can you go from here?

Talk about the results others have achieved and provide the evidence that proves them.

Examples:

  • Dentist: “Thousands of people now proudly display their smiles… even though they thought it was impossible.”
  • Martial arts school: “Thousands of people have learned to defend themselves… even though they thought it was impossible.”

“[Achieve/build/attain/…] [desire] that you can be proud of!”

Use this headline when: You know for sure that there’s something in your potential customer’s life that they are completely dissatisfied with… and you can help them, thanks to your product or service, to turn it into satisfaction/pride.

Where can you go from here?

Talk about the dissatisfaction they are currently experiencing and the implications connected to that dissatisfaction.

Show them how what you have to offer can be a reliable and attractive “way out” for them.

Examples:

  • Private school: “Enroll your child in a school you can be proud of!”
  • Architect: “Live in a house you can be proud of!”

Practical Exercise

To create a standalone advertisement, assemble multiple headlines to create 3 COMPLETE ones.

Stop only when you have achieved 3 headlines that could be used as independent ads in a newspaper or flyer, with the simple addition of a call to action and a phone number.

Example:

If you suffer from back pain, your suffering ends here.

“Here’s the sleep system that will allow you to defeat back pain for good starting from the first month. No need to take any more medicine and no need to waste time on strenuous physical exercises.”

“Heal at night while you sleep and wake up fresh, active, rested, and light with the feeling of being… 20 years younger!”

I will never tire of repeating it: the power of a headline is also determined by the results the customer will achieve in reality.

The example I gave you is just that – an example, because the product must be able to deliver on its promises.

Otherwise, excuse me for saying this, but you’re not an entrepreneur: you’re just a charlatan like those who sell business courses and have never opened a company in their lives.

I don’t endorse such things; ethics come before money for me.

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