While I’ve always prided myself on writing good headlines, I never subjected it to strict research methodologies the way our quantitative-oriented friends at Marketing Experiments recently did. Among the things they found:

  • The first objective of a headline is not to sell, but to STOP the reader and get them to read on to the subhead;
  • The subhead doesn’t do a heavy sell job, either, but draws the reader on to the first paragraph;
  • And in that first paragraph, build the need for what you’re trying to sell – i.e., explain the problem you are going to solve for the reader, before explaining how your product or service solves it.

The Marketing Experiments folks also believe that, based on their research, good headlines must have clarity, relevance and credibility – and it in that third area, credibility, where most headlines fail.

In addition to their good advice, I suggest:

  • Before sending a marketing email, read the headline and sub-head from the perspective of your target audience and ask yourself: “Why should I care about this?” If your headline doesn’t answer that question, work on it until the relevance of the pitch is crystal clear.
  • Before sending a marketing email, show it to your life partner/parent/co-worker/dog or someone else unfamiliar with the market, and ask them if they understand the headline. If they don’t, keep rewriting it until it’s so clear everyone in the target audience will understand its impact.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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