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Make Your Website Headline Sell
By: Chris Mole
When a visitor arrives at your website, the first thing they look at is the headline. You have just a few seconds to make a good impression. Otherwise, they may not stick around to read the rest of the page.
Unfortunately, most small business websites waste the huge opportunity to be gained from their headline. Typically, at the top of the page you’ll find the company’s name. Or perhaps something like “Welcome to our website”.
Don’t make this mistake. If you’re serious about marketing your business on the Internet, start by writing a truly compelling headline for your site.
I’m not saying it won’t take some effort to write a good headline. I sometimes try up to 100 different options when writing a client’s website before coming up with a headline that’s just right.
But here are 6 tips that will make the headline writing process a whole lot quicker and easier for you.
Tip 1. Identify the biggest benefit of your product or service.
This is the foundation on which a top-notch headline is built. You need to take a piece of paper and write down all the benefits your customer will receive from your product or service. What’s unique about your product or service?
Don’t neglect this step, or you’ll end up with a mediocre headline. If you’re already in business, you can ask some of your satisfied customers what they think the biggest benefit of your product or service is. If you’re just starting out, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective customer and think what is the biggest benefit you’re offering them.
Once you have a list of benefits, narrow it down to one most powerful benefit. This is the starting point for your headline. A headline that’s centred around an appealing benefit is much more likely to attract interest than one that’s not benefit-centred.
Tip 2. Borrow ideas from other websites.
Don’t overlook the obvious source of headline ideas that other successful websites can provide. I’m not suggesting you steal a headline word for word. That’s plagiarism and it’s unethical. But no one can take exclusive ownership of any word or phrase.
Most professional copywriters have what they call a “swipe file”. It’s full of great ideas they’ve picked up from other people’s copy, which they can then modify to fit the particular situation they’re writing for.
You can do the same. Look around at other great headlines that get your attention. Get some ideas. Then try to work them around your own product or service.
Here’s a couple of examples of how copywriters have adapted an original headline for a different purpose:
Original: “They laughed when I sat down at the piano but they stopped when I started to play”. (John Caples)
Adaptation: “They laughed when I sat down at the piano. They stopped when I picked it up.” (Gold’s Gym)
Original: Breakfast of Champions (Wheaties cereal)
Adaptation: Breakfast of millionaires (Forbes Magazine).
There are countless ways you can adapt a headline for your own purpose. Or even combine part of one original headline with part of another. Just use your imagination.
Tip 3. Brainstorm headline ideas with others.
I’ve found this enormously useful when I’ve been stumped for a headline. Another person can often add an insight that you’ve overlooked. Sometimes, I will run a possible headline past my wife and she’ll come up with a slightly different twist that is much better.
Just let the ideas flow. It’s amazing what these kind of brainstorming sessions can come up with, even in just a few short minutes.
Now, you can edit out any unsuitable ideas and narrow them down to those with potential to make a powerful headline.
Tip 4. Create a combination headline.
Sometimes, it works best to list several benefits all in the one headline. This can be really powerful if you have several benefits that are all equally important.
You first need to follow the advice in Tip 1 and list as many benefits as possible of your product or service. Then string them together.
Here’s a great example I found recently on the website of a web design company called 37Signals.com:
“37 Signals is an elite team of expert web design and usability specialists dedicated to simple, clear and usable customer-focused design”.
There are several benefits packed into this headline. But it works well.
Tip 5. Forget your product. Deliver the dream.
When people buy things, they do so more on emotion that logic. This is a fundamental principle that salespeople use and you can employ it effectively when writing your headlines.
You need to get inside the mind of your prospective customer or client and think about his or her dreams. What would they really like to achieve or accomplish? What can you offer that will help them achieve this dream?
For example, here’s a great headline from the website of a company that sells toys for children … of all ages. It reads:
“We don’t stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stop playing”.
Note how it appeals to the dream we all have to stay young!
Tip 6. Use testimonials from satisfied customers in your headline
Testimonials are a vital part of every small business website. They help establish your credibility faster than any other method. Sometimes, you can make a powerful headline by building it around a comment from a satisfied customer.
If you’re not already gathering testimonials, you should start doing so immediately. Look at all the emails, faxes and letters you’ve had from satisfied customers and note the comments of appreciation they’ve made about your product or service. Then contact them and ask if they’d mind you using these comments as a testimonial.
Here’s an example of a testimonial used in a headline for a fictional weight loss product:
“I lost 10kg in two weeks with this simple diet plan. I have more energy and feel better than I have in years. Thanks so much Miracle Diet!”
Or this one for a household cleaning product:
“I’ve tried every other bathroom cleaner in the supermarket but none even comes close to the shine I get with Wonder Shine!”
Now, it’s up to you to write a winning headline!
These 6 tips should provide you with lots of ideas to write an attention-getting headline for your website. As a final tip, it’s important you feel comfortable with your headline. It needs to fit with your own personality and the image you want to create for your business.
You need to blow your own trumpet a little bit. So don’t be too modest. But don’t go over the top with hype, either. If you don’t feel comfortable with your headline, chances are it will turn off your prospective customers.
The aim is a good, strong headline that clearly spells out the benefits of your product or service. If you invest a little time, effort and imagination, you’ll be amazed at what you come up with.
And what’s more important, your new headline will almost certainly give your website sales a big boost.
About the Author
Chris Mole is a freelance website copywriter based near Christchurch, New Zealand. He has more than 20 years experience writing for print, radio and Web media and now specialises in writing truly persuasive sales copy for small businesses.
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