LOWER YOUR BOUNCE RATE 100% FREE!!
Hey, now that’s a headline that got your attention, didn’t it? You’re still reading so it did get your attention – and that’s what a good headline on your homepage does. It gets attention.
There are plenty of high-priced, Fortune 500 company sites that have ignored this basic marketing axiom – headlines grab attention. Don’t believe it? Okay, imagine the next issue if your favorite magazine arrives with no contents page, no headlines or subheads – just big globs of text and pictures without any captions. How long are you going to wade through all of that content to find the stuff you really want to read?
Same idea with your website. A grabber headline will lower your bounce rate because more visitors stick around, pulled in by a great headline.
Okay, what’s a great headline?
A good headline is one that keeps the visitor on site. So what are we talking about, here? What’s going to keep a visitor from bouncing?
Self-interest headlines identify the benefits of the product or service to the reader. The objective of these headlines is to be as specific as you can about the benefit(s). For example:
Double Your Portfolio Return Without Risk
Backache? Let Acme Pregnancy Pillows Make You Comfortable
Lose 30 Pounds in 60 Days: FREE Recipe Book
Notice that each headline defines specific benefits: double returns, get comfortable, lose weight easily. Self-interest headlines describe the key benefits of whatever it is you’re selling.
A note worth noting here: web users are NOT idiots. Headlines like:
EARN $5000 a DAY FROM HOME
DOUBLE YOUR MONEY IN 60 SECONDS
BUY RENTAL PROPERTY IN
EARN $10,000 A MONTH WITH NO MONEY DOWN
STAY YOUNG FOREVER WITH ACME ALGAE DRINK
(May not be legal in all states.)
You still see this ridiculous bombast all over the web. Look, all you site owners who are doing this. Web users are smart so treat them with respect and don’t insult their intelligence with this kind of hype. Self-interest headlines work but screw the top back on the hype jar. People aren’t idiots.
News Headlines present information without any sales spin, though spin is usually the point.
HERBENOUGH EARNS SEAL of APPROVAL
XZY ENERGY BRINGS OIL TO THE PIPELINE
DOCTORS AGREE ON GLAUCOMA TREATMENT
Now, the news headline should be void of any type of sales or promo. Think of it as a press release or newspaper headline. These headlines work well for NFPs, service organizations, pharmas, micro-cap companies (penny stocks) and other agencies projecting a non-commercial, online persona.
Even though these headlines should be void of sizzle, they should still draw the attention of the reader. Boring doesn’t sell. The sites that use this type of headline are usually sites that attract the needs-driven buyer – the guy facing foreclosure or the gal who just lost her health insurance. Needs-driven buyers want information. They don’t want (or need) a lot of sales hype. The sale is already made.
Intrigue Headlines appeal to the curiosity of the reader – evoking a need to learn more.
DO YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS?
IS THAT A UFO IN YOUR LOCKER?
WAIT’LL YOU GET A LOAD OF THIS!!!!
Hmm, do I have any of these symptoms? Hey, I better do something. These headlines tease the reader into digging in and reading the rest of the piece, which can include some sizzle, but please remember the hype quotient (HQ). Keep it to a minimum.
Designing the Perfect Headline
Check out that sub-head: perfect headline above. So, if you’re a site owner and you’ve read this far, you’re going to want to learn some tips for developing the “perfect headline.” Get it?
So, okay, the headline should fall into one of the three categories described above. The headline should be the largest design element above the fold on the homepage. Bigger than your business logo, company name, contact information – the perfect headline demands attention.
Turn the spotlight on the reader. Don’t talk about “me” and “my.” Who cares? Talk to “You.”
WOULD YOU LIKE TO EARN EXTRA INCOME?
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOUR WATER IS DOING TO YOU
YOUR FUTURE BEGINS TODAY WITH US
People are motivated to read content that applies to them. It may sound callous, but it’s the old “What’s in it for me?” mentality. So tell the reader what’s in it for her – in the homepage headline.
Avoid any kind of negativity. It’s okay to say “We’re the best.” That’s positive. It’s not okay to say “Our competition stinks.” Way too negative so keep the focus on your positives, not the competition’s negatives.
Tests indicate that long headlines, as long as no scrolling is involved, work as well as short headlines. So, go for it:
EARN MORE MONEY THAN YOU EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE
WITH ABSOLUTELY NO RISK TO YOU
AND NO COST TO YOU
WITH VIRTUALLY NO DOWNSIDE WHATSOEVER
You get the idea. Visitors will read the long headline as long as it continues to point out benefits to the reader. So go short or go long. Just keep it focused on the reader.
Avoid headlines designed to show just how clever or witty you are. Again, the site headline is designed for one purpose – to grab and hold the visitor’s attention, not to “wow” the visitor with your rapier wit.
Don’t use industry insider jargon, either. You can’t be sure who will be reading the headline and if it’s a clerk in ‘Purchasing’ he may not understand the headline.
Finally, test different headlines to determine which is stickiest. You might think it’s the greatest headline ever written but if it isn’t pulling, move on and try something else that focuses on the benefits of the product or service to the reader.