Writing Website Headlines that Connect
By Rick Sloboda | September 30, 2008
Headlines can be extremely effective tools to engage your online visitors and entice them to gather more information about your products, services and business.
Following are three guidelines to help you create headlines that connect:
1. It's not about you
Before you attempt to revamp your headline, get out of the self-centric mode most businesses tend to be stuck in. It sounds harsh, but when a person gets to your site, they don't necessarily care about your business; they care about what you can do for them.
So step back and consider how your prospects are likely thinking. Remember, they're visiting your site to fulfill a desire or need. Hence, to truly engage them, you must speak to that desire or need. What's your target audience's main trigger point? It might be to save time or make money. To look younger or get wiser. To gain social status or achieve a different lifestyle.
Welcome to BizCoach, the ultimate business coaching firm - This type of generic, self-centered claim is all-too-common on the Web, and almost automatically gets people to click on the back button. No valuable information. No credibility.
BizCoach can improve your business and lifestyle - This headline speaks to business owners' needs. As a business owner, you might want to increase your revenues and business value to sell it for profit, or free yourself to spend more time with your family or travel the world. In any case, the headline focuses on the visitor's needs.
2. Think Web, not print
The task of headlines on websites differ from print headlines. In print, headlines need to grab readers, and get them to reach for the newspaper or magazine on a shelf or stand. Headlines on the Web don't need to scream for attention since the prospect already made the conscious choice and took the necessary steps to visit your website.
Instead, your website's headlines should be informative; tell the story of the web copy that follows in a few short words. Fundamentally, your headline's job is to connect with the reader, so he or she reads the next sentence. Likewise, your lead sentence should entice the reader to get to the next line, and so on, right through to your offer and call to action.
3. Keep it real
Don't get spammy. Clear, practical Information outshines full-on persuasion. Melt your pounds away fast!!! is vague and reeks of suspect products or organizations, which gets a prospect's guard up. Lose 1 pound per week with new vegetable diet isn't dramatic, but it's descriptive, clearly indicating what people can expect from your offer.
And don't get too aggressive. For instance, business owners overuse exclamation marks to emphasize statements. The louder, the better!!!! Or so they think. In actual fact, it's often perceived as amateurish and can turn people off. Some web content also attempts to gain the same 'high volume effect' by using all caps. BUT ALL CAPS WEB COPY IS DIFFICULT TO READ BECAUSE IT ELIMINATES IDENTIFYABLE SHAPES, CREATING A WALL OF REPETITIVE RECTANGLE-SHAPED CHARACTERS.
Does yelling start a productive conversation? It can certainly start a dialogue, but not a very useful one. The same goes for website headlines; keep them descriptive, practical and valuable. Make them relevant.