How do you write an attention grabbing headline?


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How To Write an Attention Grabber: 11 Headline Writing Tips

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Give your best tip for writing a good attention grabber, whether that’s for an email subject line or ad copy?

To help you write attention-grabbing headlines for your emails and ad copies, we asked CEOs and other business leaders this question for their best ideas. From framing the headline as a question to capturing trending events in the headline, there are several ideas that may help you craft compelling headlines for your emails and ad copies.

Here are 11 tips for writing attention-grabbing headlines:

  • Frame Headline as a Question
  • Use a Headline Analyzer
  • Tell a Story
  • Get The Headline From Writing Many Ledes
  • Keep Headline Short and Enticing
  • Create a Sense of Urgency
  • Draw Attention Using Analogies
  • Use Power Phrases
  • Make The Headline Announce The Benefits
  • Specify What’s on Offer
  • Capture Trending Events in The Headline

Frame Headline as a Question

One way to write an attention-grabbing headline is to make it into a question that will elicit curiosity or hint at something that can make the recipient’s life quickly and tangy easier. Now, it’s easy to slip into clickbaiting titles that are tricky and ultimately come off as sleazy. Thus resist the temptation as those might pump up the open rates but eventually erodes any trust you want to establish and grow. Thus for starters, make sure that the ad copy (or body of the email) answers the question because while everyone enjoys a great build-up, every story needs a resolution. Finally, the more universally intriguing (think human needs, desires, etc.) or immediately beneficial (free shipping, limited edition, problem resolving) the question is, the better.

Ultimately, you want the reader to silently nod and say to themselves, “you’ve got my attention, so go on…I definitely would like to find out more.”

Peter Bryla, ResumeLab

Use a Headline Analyzer

It’s a free tool from CoSchedule. I try to get as high a score as possible. The tool gives you better wording ideas. The upgraded version has more features. After a while, you learn which are the eye-catching “power” or “emotional” words that work. Write a good, enticing headline, then deliver on the topic with your email, blog or ad.

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

Tell a Story

Story-telling is one of the most effective ways to capture the interest of your reader. When you use anecdotes effectively in your copy, you can hook your audience and convince them to read the rest of your piece. In story-telling, start in the middle of the scene. Stories need not be grand or epic. You can use vignettes of your life, something relatable that will make them say “Hey, me too!”, and then connect them to the main topic.

Jeffrey Zhou, Fig Loans

Get The Headline From Writing Many Ledes

Pulitzer prize winner, Don Murray, said you should write 50 ledes (opening sentences) for your articles. By the time you’ve done that, you’ve totally explored and understood the story from every angle and found the most engaging way into it. If you don’t get hung up on writing the ‘perfect first draft’ this approach can produce surprising, serendipitous bursts of creativity and doesn’t take as long as it sounds. You can’t *think* your way to a good headline, subject line or lede. You have to *write* your way there.

Matthew Stibbe, Articulate Marketing

Keep Headline Short and Enticing

You should approach your subject line the way you would a newspaper headline, only keep it shorter. You want to induce the reader. You don’t have to tell the story in the headline, just keep them wanting more, and the fewer words the better. Be “punny” if you can. If you’re a travel writer who visited Virginia and you think it’s a great place for a family outing. Your headline could be, “Hey kids, meet Virginia.” Or you could write, “Virginia is for lovers, and history buffs.” Give readers the sense of what the content covers. Be witty, clever, and concise with your subject lines and headlines.

Alan Ahdoot, Adamson Ahdoot Law

Create a Sense of Urgency

A subject line needs to stoke curiosity and motivate the recipient enough to click on it there and then. The average person is bombarded with so much information and content every day that one of the only ways to grab and hold attention is by implying urgency. Phrases like “For a limited time only!” or “Only X number remaining!” accomplish this by taking advantage of our reluctance to lose an opportunity. To find out what might work, pay attention to what grabs your own interest when scrolling through a backlog of email notifications. Words like these are likely to catch your attention: Limited, Now, Only, Exclusive, Fast, Quick, and, Ending.

Eric Ang, One Search Pro

Draw Attention Using Analogies

Use analogies to capture your target audience’s attention. It’s a unique and brief way to explain your ad copy that prevents readers from feeling bored, which is ideal since most people have a short attention span in this day and age. Analogies are memorable because it sparks a reader’s curiosity when reading your ad copy. An example would be an ad copy about walnuts showing that it benefits and looks like your brain.

Shaun Connell, Rental Property Calculator

Use Power Phrases

Whether you are writing an email or ad copy, you need to make sure that it will grab your audience’s attention. One way to do that is to use strong, powerful words. Sometimes referred to as ‘power phrases,’ these words help catch the recipient’s eye. In short, they are terms that either spark curiosity or evoke emotion. There are multiple lists of power words available online, some of which are backed by research. Here are a few examples: hack, discover, boost, easy, avoid. Try rewriting your subject line, headline, or ad copy using at least one power phrase. Just make sure the words you chose are not spam triggers! Avoid spammy-sounding terms such as free, access, call, now, buy, etc.

Maja Kowalska, Zety

Make The Headline Announce The Benefits

The most reliable way to keep a reader engaged is by putting the benefit in your hook, be it an email subject line, or an ad headline. Regardless of what medium you are writing in, if you can’t get the reader past your headline, they won’t know the story you’re sharing. An easy way to keep yourself honest is to take a look at what you’ve written and ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” If that benefit isn’t readily apparent you’ve failed to give the reader a good enough reason to open the email or read the body copy.

Nirav Sheth, Anatta Design

Specify What’s on Offer

Be clear and specific about what you’re offering. Whether it’s information regarding a potential discount, changes to your products or services, or even some basic understanding of your skills to a potential employer, the best way to get your email opened is by providing clear and specific information about what you offer. Generic emails that start with “general update,” “daily review,” or even “resume,” don’t carry the same urgency that more specific subject lines do.

Alex Wang, Ember Fund

Capture Trending Events in The Headline

A hot topic will always attract attention. That’s how our brain works, we want to feel included, and the audacity of current events is one way to achieve that. It’s a good idea to mention trending situations in your titles (whether emails or advertisements) to grab the reader’s attention. Justin Bieber released a new song? Maybe it should be mentioned! The sky’s the limit.

Magdalena Sadowska, PhotoAiD

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