Web Marketing: How to Write Headlines with a Hook

When developing your marketing, it is important to keep in mind that you have five seconds or less before a visitor to your website decides to take further action with you or your company. The first line of copy on your page needs to prove to your visitors that they arrived at the informational page they were looking for. A headline is the easiest way to accomplish this task.

A conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors that take some kind of action with you as opposed to leaving your website. This action can be a phone call, completing a contact form, walking into your retail store, or buying online through your shopping cart. Conversion rates can vary dramatically by making even a single change to the headline of a page.

A headline has one purpose: to get people to read more. To accomplish that, your headlines must

  • Be intriguing and inviting

  • Prove to your visitors that they’re at the right place

Sometimes, accomplishing both of the preceding objectives in just a few words can be like two repelling magnets. People spend weeks and even months testing new headlines to get them just right.

Writing headlines can be the most challenging part of the copywriting process. Follow these steps to use a headline-writing tool to aid the process:

  1. Point your web browser to a headline creator.

  2. To generate possible headlines, answer the four questions on the form and then click the Generate Headlines Now! button.

    The headlines generated appear in alphabetical order.

  3. Save the generated headlines for editing and future use by exporting them to a spreadsheet.

    Use a spreadsheet so you can keep track of when you test your headlines and the results.

    Click the Download as CSV button, and then send the headlines to yourself or someone else by e-mail.

    If you don’t like any of the suggestions, you can always click the Clear! button, change the answers to the four questions, and rerun the report.

  4. In your spreadsheet, tweak the words to fit.

    One of the headlines the tool produced is A Breakthrough in How to Save Gas . . . In Only in First Tank Full! This suggestion is a good example of when you need to massage a headline that doesn’t initially seem to be a good fit into something that works. You could change this headline to fit a possible promotion on a sales page in the following ways:

    • The first part of the headline, “A Breakthrough in How to Save Gas,” isn’t bad. But “A Breakthrough in Saving Gas” has a more fluid sound to it.

    • The second part needs more work. “In Only in” is not grammatically correct. So, that would have to go.

    • “In Only First Tank Full” doesn’t sound right either. So, how about “See Results in the First Tank Full”?

    Your final headline might be, “A Breakthrough in Saving Gas . . . See Results in the First Tank Full!”

  5. To save your revised headlines for future use, choose File→Save, give your file a name, and then click OK.

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After you write your headline, remember to give it prominence and make it fit aesthetically on your webpage. Here’s how to format and place your main heading for maximize impact:

  • Center the headline.

  • Put the headline in a different color than the rest of your text to make it stand out. Red is a good color for headlines because it stops people in their tracks to read what is so important. Blue is another good color for headlines because of its authority.

  • Make the font size of the headline two to four times larger than the rest of your text.

  • Don’t use punctuation to conclude a headline unless you’re using a question mark.

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