What Makes a Great Headline

Marketing /  16 January 19 / by Iain Schofield    
What Makes a Great Headline

Are you trying to create a compelling marketing campaign? If so, nailing the perfect headline can be vital.

Your headline will be the first thing a customer reads. Get it right, and your headline will encourage the reader to continue. Get it wrong, and you could end up straight in the bin.

"The headline is the ‘ticket on the meat.’ Use it to flag down readers who are prospects for the kind of product you are advertising"David Ogilvy

What are you trying to say?

Start by asking yourself this question. By starting with a defined objective, you can pen a clear headline that will land with your audience.

Things to avoid

  • Non-specific - Being generic, or relying on puns and subjective tropes, saps all the impetus from your headline. By being vague or overly elaborate, you’re forcing your reader to work. If your message isn’t clear, it’ll end up in the bin.
  • Clickbait / Spam - Misleading headlines seriously damage your credibility. Direct mail is about building relationships and trust with your customers, the headline is the ideal place to start.

Things to consider

  • Power (strong) Words - Loosely defined as words that illicit emotion, power words can help forge a connection with your customers. Just avoid anything too over the top or you risk coming off as insincere, or worse, dishonest.
  • Numbers - Including numbers or figures is a great way to communicate deals, offers or compelling statistics.
  • Alliteration - Lending your words a wonderful whimsy can work wonders…just be sure to use in moderation.
  • Rhetorical Questions - Speaking directly to your customers is a great way to get them engaged. By addressing a common issue, useful service or a product of interest, you’re showing you understand your customers.

All of these are options, not absolute musts. Once you know exactly what you want to say, focus on the best way to say it.

The absolute must

  • Honesty - Tell the reader upfront why you’re getting in touch. If it’s relevant or interesting (which, with good data and targeting, it should be), they can carry on reading and find out more. If for whatever reason it isn’t, at least they don’t have to waste their time. Customers appreciate transparency.

The best advice, talk straight. Your customers are real people, speak to them.

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