First impressions dictate our decision-making process on a daily basis. From meeting a new person, to shopping for a new car, we choose to act or not to act based on an emotion that lasts mere seconds.
That’s exactly how long you have to convince someone to take a desired action when marketing your business online.
As Internet marketers, the 2 most powerful tools we use to convince people to act in our favor are headlines and subject lines.
Why? Because these 2 elements are the first line of defense; the first steps to entering our sales funnel, so it’s critical that we learn how to craft them for maximum results.
Headlines and subject lines have different goals. Let’s explore each.
Whether we’re selling products on a sales page or giving away content to build our subscriber database on an opt-in page, the headline is the first messaging they see.
Psychologists tell us that our buying decisions are based on emotion and justified with logic after the fact.
This tells us that our headline must immediately connect with our prospect and trigger an emotional reaction.
To do that, we need to understand our target prospect. You can do this by following…
An Easy 2-Step Exercise
#1. Know your audience’s desires, goals, dreams, and pain points.
Getting answers to these things can be as easy as the following exercise…
Imagine a “day in the life” of your prospect by putting yourself in their shoes and asking yourself the following questions:
- What Problems and Frustrations am I experiencing on a day-to-day basis?
- What are my Dreams?
- What are my Goals?
- What are my Obstacles to reaching my goals?
- What specific Pain Points am I experiencing?
- How is this affecting my Relationships?
- How is this affecting my Personal life? My Professional life?
Questions like these will help you understand who you are speaking to in your headline.
#2. Know specifically how your product solves their problem and/or helps them reach their goals or dreams.
At this step ask the question, “What would my prospect’s life look like after he/she purchases my product?”
At the end of this exercise, you’ll be ready to start creating your perfect headline.
Crafting Your Headline
Now that you know your prospect’s wants, needs, and desires, how do you put that into words?
The easiest way is to start with “How To”.
When people search for a solution online, those are the first 2 words that are typically typed in the search engine followed by words that state what they want to achieve.
- How to get rid of bed bugs
- How to get a raise
- How to lose weight
- How to start a business
Now, let’s take one of those examples and make it better. We can do that by adding 2 things:
- A Benefit
Let’s take “How to get rid of bed bugs.”
What would the benefit be to someone who’s looking for this solution? It’s safe to say a benefit might be to eliminate fear so they can get a peaceful night’s sleep.
Let’s add that to the headline:
1. Headline with a Benefit Added
“How to get rid of those nasty bed bugs, eliminate your fear, and get a peaceful night’s sleep.”
Not bad. Now let’s add specifics by stating exactly when they can achieve this solution.
2. Headline with Specifics Added
If you’re providing a solution that takes 12 minutes, for example, then let’s revise our headline to say:
“How To Get Rid of Those Nasty Bed Bugs, Eliminate Your Fear, and Get a Peaceful Night’s Sleep in Just 12 Minutes Flat!”
Now we’re speaking directly to our prospect’s emotions.
Side note: The “when” could also be a specific number of steps, ways, etc.
The “How to” method is a quick and easy way to create a great headline from scratch, but there’s another way that’s a well kept secret among copywriters. It’s called using a “swipe” headline.
These are headlines that have already proven to convert browsers into buyers and information seekers to subscribers.
With a swipe headline, you simply fill in the blanks with benefit and specifics.
Here are some sample headline templates that you can swipe right now to use when creating your next headline (remembering to insert the benefit and specifics where noted):
- How To <benefit> …In Less Than <timeframe>
- Who Else Wants To <benefit> In Only <timeframe>?
- What Everybody Should Know About How To <benefit>
- ___<Steps/Tips> To ____<benefit>
- To People Who Want To <benefit> — But Can’t Get Started
- Finally Discovered…The Secret Of <goal> In Just <timeframe>
- Thousands Now <benefit> Who Never Thought They Could
- Great New Discovery Helps You <benefit>
What headlines are to sales copy, subject lines are to email marketing.
Before anyone reads an email, they must first open it. The only thing that’s between your email message and your subscriber is the subject line so it’s critical that you become skilled in writing subject lines.
The difference between a headline and a subject line is that the headline reveals the solution whereas the subject line is meant to tease; to convince the reader to take an additional step.
Before you write your subject line, it’s important to first understand its role in order to properly craft one.
Role of a Subject Line
The only purpose of a subject line is to get the “open”; to make the reader want to open your email.
Never try to sell in the subject line. That’s done on sales pages.
The more opens you get, the more clicks you get (to sales pages, etc) which equates to more sales. It’s just math.
Before you begin to construct your subject line, let’s understand some rules.
Subject Line Rules
The first obstacle to getting our emails read is getting them delivered to our prospect’s inbox. If our emails aren’t being delivered, then nothing else matters so naturally it’s important to understand some basic rules:
- Keep them short.
- Limit punctuations to 3 (must be different). For example, don’t use 3 exclamations in a row!!! Only use one.
- Limit ALL CAPS.
- Avoid words that trigger spam filters.
Types of Subject Lines
You’ll want to mix up the style of subject lines to avoid being predictable. There are several approaches you can take. Here are 4 ideas:
1. Ask a Question
They’ll open to either get the answer or to see if the answer in their head is the right one.
- Are you making this mistake?
- Did you hear about this?
2. Encourage Interaction
This type of subject line would lead to a poll, survey, an invitation to opinion, etc.
- Do you agree or disagree?
- Join the conversation
- I need your opinion
3. Tease or Create Intrigue
With this subject line, you allude to what’s inside, but don’t reveal. They have to open to get details.
- The day I’ll never forget
- How embarrassing
- The one question on everyone’s mind..
- This is controversial..
- Don’t eat this!
4. Benefit Driven
This subject line tells them what the email is about, but they have to open to get the specifics.
- 1 Food You Should NEVER Eat
- “Trick” your body into losing lbs
- Pssst – the perfect date night
With a little practice, anyone armed with these proven tips, rules, and swipes, can write killer headlines and subject lines guaranteed to convert more prospects to leads and sales.
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About the Author:
Dave Lovelace, Director of Education, Lurn, Inc.
Dave started his own 6-figure digital publishing business in 2006. He has expert knowledge in product creation, audio, video, affiliate program management, product launches, sales funnels, copywriting, email marketing, affiliate marketing, WordPress, and more. Dave joined the Lurn team in 2012, working closely with Anik as one of the founding content developers behind many of Lurn’s core products. He is also the “professional voice” behind many of our training videos.
He loves sharing his knowledge and helping others, who are starting their journey. His passion is evident when you hear him speak at events and on webinars.