They say that writing the headline is the hardest part of publishing. Some people have even devised specific strategies to make it easier – ranging from fill-in-the-blank templates to waiting until the last minute to whip up something good and creative.
Whatever method you choose, these nine examples will make you re-think the way you craft headlines. Why? Because they all have several points in common that are worth analyzing from a copywriting point of view. Let’s take a look:
1. Avocode: Simple, Straightforward and To-the-Point
Avocode is a beta service that allows developers to gather important details from a PSD file, without the need for Photoshop. The headline works in that it states exactly what you can do with the site, and then welcomes you to request an invite. Nothing loud, pushy or overly complicated. A small “Questions and Answers” link in the upper right helps relieve any lingering doubts the visitor may have.
The sub-headline here gets into the nitty-gritty of the offer, but does it flawlessly in a single sentence. Simple, straightforward and to the point.
2. Bing: Let the Facts do the Talking
I’ve kept this ad from Bing for a while, just because it was so good. A newspaper-style clipping and a pair of sinister eyes completes the picture, and it’s easy to tell exactly at-a-glance what this is about. Google said it wouldn’t do something, and they did it anyway. Of course, Bing is not immune to having its own search records seized, but there’s no mention of that.
Bing doesn’t even go into a full-fledged bullet-point frenzy over what they do better, because as we all know, you could probably count those things on one hand. Instead, it lets the facts speak for it and backs them up with the original sources. Unsurprisingly, this ad was targeted specifically at Google-using Safari browsers for the best possible targeting results.
It’s not known whether or not usage of Bing increased as a result, but it’s a safe bet that many people were concerned about their privacy, and decided to at least try Bing as an alternative.
3. Name Badges: Easy and Fast
What I love about this example is that it doesn’t mince words. And when it comes to something as mundane as name badges, writing a thought-provoking, interesting and unique headline would make most people leap into oncoming traffic.
The supporting image copy illustrates just how these conference badges are different from the typical “Hello, My Name Is” stickers, and invites the user to easily create their own badge in minutes. When it comes to designing something, “easy” and “fast” are the buzzwords that get clicked.
4. Pinterest – Create Your Own Outcome
Let’s imagine for a moment, that you’re not really sure what Pinterest is. Maybe you’ve heard about it, but you don’t understand why everyone’s pinning and sharing and creating. This headline makes it relevant. “They used Pinterest to plan a dream trip” is just one of many possible outcomes of using the site. You’ll have to sign up to discover yours.
Fortunately, Pinterest adds a little enticement to the headline by letting you know that it only takes around 45 seconds to sign up, and that there are billions of pins to explore – so you can use Pinterest to do whatever inspires and motivates you.
5. Oscar: Make the Impersonal, Personal
Debuting in New York, Oscar is a health insurance company that, as its introductory paragraph describes, is using technology to simplify insurance by making it friendlier and more accessible. The “Hello, We’re _________” is a type of headline that you’d typically find on freelance creative portfolios, but it’s good to see it expanding. By taking something as boring, frustrating and confusing as health insurance and making it friendly and open, Oscar has the potential to get a lot of positive attention through just the power of words alone.
6. IconJar: Get Comfortable with Action Words
This one isn’t specifically a headline, but rather the sub-section that typically appears below the headline. When you’re crafting headlines for your landing pages, it’s important not to lose steam after the big reveal (your offer). So what IconJar has done here is a trick that you can easily duplicate – use action words:
Boost, organize, drag & drop. It’s easy to say something like “IconJar keeps your icons tidy so you can find them anytime”, but that’s bland and uninspiring. Instead, the copy uses action words and references them to “you”, so that not only do you have these movement-inspired words, but you could actually picture yourself using this app in the process.
And if someone can picture themselves using your product or service before they’ve even hit the buy button – congratulations, you’ve already sold them.
7. Montage: Photo Books, Simplified
The idea behind Montage is captured brilliantly in this page – which not only has a direct, concrete headline that would appeal to anyone looking to create a photo book (effortless, made with love), it also has a gorgeous hero shot of the product in close, crisp detail.
Under the headline and hero shot are five supporting “feature pillars” that goes into a little more detail on the layout, sizes, materials and other specifics. Clicking each one takes you to a specific section on the same page that provides more information.
The only thing unclear about this page is the “Request an Invite.” Nowhere above the fold does it show that Montage is in beta, nor what requesting an invite actually entitles the user to – do they get to create a photo book or just be invited to use the service once it goes live? Clarifying the call-to-action could go a long way toward increasing sign-ups here.
8. Schnapps – Clear Headline, but Hero Shot Could Be Better
Schnapps is an app that is in beta, which lets you create time-lapse videos of your design work. This would be a great addition to a portfolio, in order to illustrate the start-to-finish production work that goes into making a beautiful, elaborate design of any kind. The headline is simple and says in just a few words, exactly what the program does.
The hero shot on this page, however, could be better. It’s not entirely clear exactly what the process is: do I put PSD files into a timeline of sorts? How are they ordered? Can I save or share the finished product? If so, in what format? There are a lot of unanswered questions on this page that a combination of a sub-headline, and perhaps a video in place of the hero shot, would do well to answer.
9. Scratch: Making You Think
Scratch Wireless’ headline makes you think – Wireless should be free. Its sub-headline is where it hits that light bulb moment – look at all the things wireless can do using your existing internet. Why are you paying so much for it, in fact, why are you paying at all? (emphasis mine).
Scratch’s philosophy in its headline seems to be that, just because “we’ve always done it that way” doesn’t have to mean we have to keep doing it. Rather than just talking about “free wireless” which could make a visitor’s B.S. detector shoot straight up, it throws a question right back at the visitor – why?
So What Can You Learn from These Headlines?
Hopefully by now you’ve come away with some great “headline ammunition” that you can use when crafting your landing pages. Just remember these bite-sized points when you write:
- Keep your headline straight, simple and to-the-point. The best headlines don’t need to be witty, clever or complex. Simple sells.
- Let the facts speak for you. If your company was featured in the news, you’ve created an amazing case study or otherwise “made headlines”, use that information to make your own headlines!
- Put the user in control. Just because people use your service one way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Put the control in the user’s hands and let them explore everything you have to offer.
- Make it personal. Whether you’re selling lingerie or lawnmowers, there’s a part of your business that many people might find intimidating, frustrating or confusing. How can you make the process friendlier and more welcoming to them?
- Don’t forget the supporting cast – Although your headline will do most of the selling for you, don’t forget that great visuals, strong “feature pillars” and a clear, concise sub-headline add so much more.
- Ask questions that make people think – If you’ve got a feature that others might term brilliant or revolutionary, why not ask the kinds of questions that make people think? Jolt them out of their rut and make them start questioning. They’ll thank you for the insight.
What are some of your favorite headlines? Share your most compelling ones below in the comments! We’d love to hear your feedback!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps businesses improve website design and increase conversions with user-focused design, compelling copywriting and smart analytics. Learn more at iElectrify and get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up. Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!
As much as Upworthy and Buzzfeed get grief over their titles, you can't argue that their 'curiosity gap' titles work.
I Thought It Was a Travesty, But Then I Saw This Illustration.
I'm kidding. Seriously though, those types of headlines are incredibly effective, but they're not the be all that ends all. In fact, they work really well in social stories, but will just annoy people if you're blogging about your business and related topics.
So what's a run-of-the-mill blogger to do?
Develop a bank of catchy titles you can draw on to ensure you have lots of ideas to draw from and your titles aren't an afterthought.
Listicles--articles based on a list of items or ideas--are hugely popular and make for great titles. In fact, an analysis recently showed that of 60,000 of the top articles on Buzzfeed, 26% are listicles! These posts are titled, "X Ways..." or "X Things..." or "X Reasons..."
You get the idea.
How-to articles are another perennial favorite and while titles here can be pretty self-explanatory, don't be afraid to get creative with them.
Check out these 74 awesome, proven blog titles templates from Twelveskip--read them, print them off, make this the start of your blog title bible or repository of kick-ass titles just waiting to be built out.
Infographic from Twelveskip.