The first thing you need to know is the #1 rule for headline writing: The primary purpose of the headline is to get the first sentence read.If you hang around copywriting circles long enough, you’re sure to read this rule at one point or another because most copywriter’s view getting potential customers to continue reading as the number rule of headline writing.If you talk to enough copywriters, you’ll eventually hear that headlines are critical for your copy’s success.David Ogilvy summarizes this quite well in the quote above.Your customers won’t have any reason to think you’re different than your competitors, which means they won’t have any reason to buy from you than from someone else.Today’s consumers are more savvy than customers of the past. To write headlines like this you have to be willing to take risks, but the benefit of doing something unique that stands out means you won’t be placed in the same bucket as your competition.They get the attention of e-retailers with “abandoned carts” while letting them know they’ll get “15% more sales.” It’s clear, it’s specific, and it’s effective.
Technically this is a tagline, but really, taglines are headlines of sorts. If people like your business, they’re more likely to want to do business with you.
This leads us to another famous Ogilvy quote: “It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money…” Ogilvy believed headlines were so important that he viewed them as being worth 90% of the money invested in advertising. Headlines are so important that a single word can impact a campaign dramatically.
We’ve seen e-mail subject lines where a one word change increased click-throughs by 46%.
They’re used to being bombarded with commercial after commercial that says the same thing. If you buy today, you’ll get a free carrot peeler valued at .95.” Businesses use commercials like this because they work, at least on a subset of customers, but many people are turned off by commercial wording they’ve heard over and over again. You’re more likely to connect with customers who are looking for businesses that don’t speak like boring corporate robots.
We can all remember watching a commercial with lines like, “Buy now with three low payments of .95. As soon as they hear, “Three equal payments of .95,” they tune out waiting for something that seems more credible. It works first and foremost because it has personality.
That’s a measurable difference that significantly impacts the bottom line. It’s because they’re the first lines of your copy that customers read.