That All Powerful Headline

In the world of Internet marketing, where copy is king, headlines are the king of kings—the exalted ruler of all copy.

In ‘Scientific Advertising’ Claude Hopkins wrote ‘The purpose of headlines is to pick out the people you can interest. You wish to talk to someone in a crowd, so the first thing you say is ‘Hey there, Bill Jones’ to get the right person’s attention.’

That All Powerful Headline

David Ogilvy, author of Ogilvy on Advertising, said ‘Headlines get five times the readership of the body copy. If your headline doesn’t sell, you have wasted your money.’

On a webpage you’ve got a slight advantage here, as the majority of your traffic probably comes from search engines or links from other sites. As a result, your prospect has already pre- qualified himself or herself by coming to your page.

So now you’ve got them on your page.  What  now?  You  better  have a compelling headline to draw them into reading the rest of your page or into watching your video sales letter. Otherwise, they will have clicked on the ‘back’ button quicker then you can blink an eye.

But let’s back up for just a minute.  As said before, most of your traffic probably comes from search engines or other links. So, isn’t the information about your site in that search engine really just another headline?  Of course it is.

I love pay-per-click search engines. You can craft exactly the headline (within character limitations) that you sure you have a good descriptive and eye catching headline.

But even in the non pay-per-click worlds of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others you have some control over what appears regarding your site. So be sure the meta tags on your web pages have the ‘headline’ you want to appear in the search engines.

One final area to look at related to headlines is e-mail. The subject line of your message is the headline for that message. You’re limited on the number of characters you  can  have in your subject line. You’re also fighting to stand out from the crowd in the glut of e-mail messages most people receive daily. Best advice— personalize the subject line if possible along with a short, interest or curiosity building headline that will get them to read your message.

Claude Hopkins wrote an interesting thing in ‘Scientific Advertising’. He said, ‘The writer of this chapter spends far more time on headlines then on writing. Often scores of  headlines are discarded before the right one is selected.’

Further, he said, ‘For the entire return of an ad depends on attracting the right sort of readers. The best of salesmanship has no chance whatever unless we get a hearing.’

So, if you want to get a ‘hearing’ from your website visitors, make sure your headlines are worthy of that hearing.

Your Tasks:

  1. Look on the major search engines on your critical keywords at how your information appears. Figure out from where on your product page they’re pulling the description they’re using. Change, as necessary, to get a better description (headline) onto the search engine.
  2. Review the subject line of your e-mail messages. If you’re using autoresponders evaluate each subject line to be sure it’s the best headline to help you get your e-mail read.
  3. Look at the major page(s) on your website. Are you offering a compelling reason in your headline to get the reader to continue on into the copy?

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Bret Ridgway

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