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Can I have your attention please; why you need to pay attention to your headlines

Updated: Jan 8




Headlines are one of the most important elements of content, whether it is for an article, a press release, a webpage, or a banner ad. They can often be the hardest part of writing copy. Writers will always tell you that 'writing short' is the hardest thing to do and they are right.


 

So what is the purpose of a headline?

  • to grab your reader's attention

  • to raise your brand's awareness

  • to make the reader want to read on

  • to indulge yourself in a bit of creative writing

It probably depends on who is writing the headline and what their motivation is. Not a helpful answer I know!

If you need your audience to take action then you need a good headline.



 

What type of headline are you writing?


Headlines can do many things:

announce news

teasing curiosity

offering a product or benefit



 

Getting started

Put your headline in a larger font than your main body but DO NOT USE CAPITALS.

Try and keep the headline to 16 words or fewer, ideally ten.

Do not use full stops at the end of your headline.


What are you writing about?

If it is a product or a launch then maybe start with 'Announcing...' 'It's arrived...' Maybe you want to offer some tips so a more informal headline such as '6 things you didn't know about olive oil'.

If there is a special offer or discount you are launching then wording such as 'Get 10% discount when you subscribe to ...'



 

Stuck for inspiration?

We all get a bit of 'writers' block' at times and for many, the headline is the most challenging part of creating content. Find your own ways of getting the creative juices flowing. Some may be obvious like giving yourself regular breaks, sitting in a space that feels comfortable and will keep you relaxed and focused. Other ways may include little exercises to remove any barriers. Try writing the headline in long-form, to begin with, and then break it down into segments. Why? How? What?


Why should your audience buy your product or service?

How does it work? How can they access it?

What are the benefits?

Add in the urgency or pique their interest.


These are all elements that you need to weave into the headline. Once you have reworked you should end up with something that works such as 'Now you can feel 10 years younger with (product)'.



 

Never forget - if you can imagine your audience saying 'why bother' then they won't read on. These days everyone is too busy on and offline to bother about reading lots of content if the headline has not grabbed them on the 'scroll'. Get the benefit or advantage over in one sentence. And have fun!


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