Learn the secret of writing powerful headlines


Whether you’re a freelancer or business owner, the most important words in any marketing or advertising copy, blog or sales listing are not your contact details or description of how amazing your products or services are. They’re your headline.

If potential customers read nothing else, they will probably scan your headline, so it may be your one chance to grab their attention and get your message across. If you get your headline right they’re much more likely to venture past it and engage with the rest of your copy and content.

So what makes a great headline? Thankfully there’s no need to stumble around in the dark. There is a simple rule to creating powerful headlines which, once learned, can help you boost the impact of your copy.

The rule of AIDA

The secret to creating impactful headlines lies in four letters: AIDA. They stand for:

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

Demanding attention

If you want to stop someone in their tracks and ensure they notice your headline, you need to grab their attention with something that lets them know your copy may tell them something new. How many times have you seen headlines that being with the words ‘announcing’, ‘introducing’, ‘discover’, ‘new’ or ‘finally’? They’re all perfect examples of attention-grabbing headline openers. Obviously you can’t start all your headlines using the same clutch of overused words, but they give you an idea of the kind of words that will get people to notice your copy.

Creating interest

Once you’ve got someone to notice your headline, you need to make them interested enough to read more – which they’ll do if they think they’re going to learn something new, interesting or exciting. Words which can help you achieve this include:

  • How to…
  • Why…
  • Where else…
  • Which…

Triggering desire

To trigger desire for your product or service you need to make it seem special, unique, a bargain, rare or in demand. Words that can help you do this include:

  • Rare
  • Unusual
  • Last few
  • Discounted
  • Popular
  • Bestseller
  • Limited edition

It’s also a good idea to be aware of trends or popular brands, and link your headline to them by tailoring your language or name checking them.

Prompting action

Using active language can help to prompt a passive reader into taking a positive action – especially if you add a time clincher. So use verbs and give them a time frame to complete the action. Here’s an example:

  • Find out now
  • Buy this weekend
  • Read before Monday

Use AIDA to boost the impact of your headlines from now on

If you follow the easy-to-remember AIDA rule you can dramatically boost the impact of your headlines – whether you’re writing an ad, tweet, blog, ebay listing or email.

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