Whichever tools you use to market your business, you have around four seconds to engage your audience, before they look elsewhere – and this applies whether we’re talking about online or offline media.
That piece of direct mail you spent hours crafting, the handout for an upcoming trade show, the landing page for your new product launch; how do you make your audience sit up and take notice of you?
One key element to successful audience engagement is this: a winning headline.
A winning headline comprises a benefit-driven promise which compels the prospect to read on. But it doesn’t need to be clever, witty or full of hype to attract attention. Often simple headlines get the best results.
You’re reading this piece because you want to know: “How to Engage Your Audience in 4 Seconds.” And yes, we did think about adding the obligatory exclamation mark at the end of the sentence. Too hypey? You decide.
What’s In It For Me?
When your prospect arrives on your landing page, or picks up your handout at the trade show, he wants to know one thing: “What’s in it for me?” He doesn’t (yet) care about your mission statement, or how long you’ve been in business, until he knows how your product or service will meet his needs.
Does your headline address your visitor’s immediate or ongoing problem? For example:
“7 Ways to Slash Your Print Bill by 40%”
“10 Tips for Outsourcing without Tears”
Or does your headline pique curiosity?
“5 Branding Secrets Your Competitors Don’t Want You to Know”
“Does Grammar Matter in Marketing?”
According to Copyblogger, when it comes to headlines, the 80/20 rule applies. On average, while 8 in 10 people will read your headline, only 2 of those will go on to read your body copy. Can you beat the odds by crafting a headline that compels your audience to read on?
As well as the ‘audience engagement’ aspect, from an SEO point of view your headline matters, because Google will present your headline and meta description to potential customers via their search listings. It is this information that will make your prospects decide whether or not to click through to your site.
How Many Headlines Do I Need To Write?
Dubbed the ‘Original Mad Man’, advertising doyen, David Ogilvy once wrote 104 headlines for a Rolls Royce ad campaign, before coming up with this gem:
“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.”
Perhaps crafting 104 headlines before you hit the jackpot does seem a tad extreme, but I guess that depends on the demands of the audience you are writing for – and the budget!
A/B Split Testing Of Headlines
Testing variations of your chosen headline makes good sense. You can then keep a dossier of your best-performing headlines for future use. If you want to test your headlines for ‘potency potential’ before you let them loose on your audience, check out CoSchedule’s free Headline-Analyzer tool. But be warned, it’s highly addictive!
So whether you are designing an email campaign, a sales brochure, a presentation, or a new website; a winning headline is what will make your audience read on.