- By Jonathan Hook
- Published 04/11/2008
- Article Writing
It is a proven fact that the headline is the most important part of any advertisement. No matter how good the rest of your copy is, if your headline stinks your ad will fail. It’s that simple. How can so few lines of copy be so important? Because the headline is your first (and often last) chance to make an impression on a reader. It needs to grab the reader by the collar and make it impossible for him to continue without reading the rest of your message. If your headline fails the rest of your copy will never even be read. The primary purpose of your headline is to get the readers attention. But when crafting your headline, it’s important to remember that you’re not trying to attract everyone. You only need to attract people who would be interested in your offer. A misleading or vague headline will earn you lots of readers who are not at all interested in your product. They’ll realize this as soon as they get past your headline and you’ll quickly lose them. Meanwhile, you will have lost many others who would have loved your product but didn’t stop to read your sales page because the headline didn’t grab them. Choosing your target audience carefully is a vital part of crafting a headline that sells. You really have to walk a fine line to get it just right, and it takes a lot of practice and testing. In Scientific Advertising, the legendary Claude Hopkins uses newspaper headlines to demonstrate the importance of targeting your headline just right:
“Suppose a newspaper article
stated that a certain woman was the most beautiful woman in the city. That article would be of intense interest to that woman and her friends. But neither she nor her friends would ever read it if the headline was ‘Egyptian Psychology'”. For a more contemporary example, we can look to Google AdWords. Let’s say you run a website that sells specialty teas. You want to drive some traffic to a special you’re having on a delicious Earl Grey. You can only use a limited number of characters for your headline so you have to choose your words carefully. You could use a headline that simply stated what your site is about, such as “Specialty Teas”, but the traffic you’d receive would not be very targeted. You’d likely get a lot of “tire-kickers” who are just browsing or looking for free information. Since you pay for each visitor, you’d be spending good advertising money on poor quality traffic. Instead you could try something like “Earl Grey Sale Ends Today”. This simple example off the top of my head shows how you would target someone looking for earl grey tea. Someone searching for “earl grey” sees your ad and immediately knows: 1. You have the exact product they’re looking for 2. They can save money because you’re having a sale 3. The sale ends today so they have to act fast! That’s a lot of information packed into 5 little words. See how tightly targeted it is? The people who click on your ad will be very likely to buy from you.
And people who are only interested in free information about chamomile tea will know not to bother – they are not your buyer anyhow.