Writing killer headlines is one of the most important traits of highly-paid copywriters.
No matter how great your content is, people still have to click on it to read right?
But if the headline doesn’t grab their attention, they won’t click.
And in our ever-busy world where the attention span of an average human is 8 seconds, how do you grab the attention of your target audience?
By writing killer headlines that stop them in their tracks to read your content.
Legendary David Ogilvy couldn’t have said it better:
”5 times as many people read the headline as the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”
He once spent 3 weeks before coming up with one of the most famous headlines in the advertising industry.
The headline has one job. To get your audience to read the first sentence. of your copy.
But unlike David Ogilvy, you don’t have to spend three weeks crafting a headline for your next blog post or sales copy.
In this article, I’ll show you nine tested and trusted killer headline formulas you can use right away.
Let’s dive right in.
1: How-To Without Headline
Formula: How to [desired outcome] without [unpleasant action]
The how-to headline on its own is a powerful headline that has been used successfully.
Dale Carnegie, the author of How To Win Friends and Influence People sold over 15 million copies of his book with this headline.
But when you combine how-to with the word without, it becomes even more powerful.
People want solutions to their problem but they also want to save time, save money, avoid stress, or any other thing that could be could be a stumbling block.
If you can show people how to get what they want without going through an unpleasant action, you’ve hit a winner.
- How to lose up to 50 pounds in 30 days without stepping your foot in the gym.
- How to pocket an additional $1000 monthly from blogging without any previous writing experience.
- How to rank your website on Google in 60 days without building backlinks.
2. The Secret Headline
Formula: The Secret of [Desired Outcome]
This formula works because humans love secrets.
Sharing insider knowledge on a topic or from your own personal experience is a surefire way to grab the attention of your audience.
- The secret of writing killer headlines
- The amazing health secret of the oldest person in the world
- The astonishing sex secret of the most satisfied, most knowledgeable and the most respected lovers in the world
3. The Who Else Wants Headline
Formula: Who else wants [Desired Outcome]
Using question-based headlines like “Who Else Wants” is a perfect way to use social proof to show that there’s already a desire for your product or service.
It’s also a way to ask your audience a question about something they really want.
- Who else wants to travel on a budget?
- Who else wants more Instagram followers?
- Who else wants to learn how to make home-made ice-cream?
4. The Are You headline
Formula: Are You [unpleasant question]
This is another question-based headline you can use to stop your audience in their tracks.
It works because it asks your readers a question that provokes them.
However, when using this kind of headline, the question must get the reader to say yes. This way, they’ll have no choice than to click on the link to find out more.
Notice how Content Marketing Institute used this formula in this headline.
Here are other examples:
- Are you always the bridesmaid but never the bride?
- Are you making these mistakes in English?
- Are you tired of looking for a job?
5. The Case Study Headline
Formula: How [I/We/Company/Person] achieved [desired outcome]
This headline works because it has an element of curiosity in it.
It compels people to read more when you share a success story about yourself or another person.
And you know how well people react to stories particularly the ones they can relate to.
To use this formula, you have to be specific about what the readers will benefit from reading the case study.
Here are some examples:
- How I ranked 5 websites on Google’s first page in 3 months.
- How I made over $3,432 in May using this simple method
- How the 90-year old woman was able to defeat cancer
6. The News Headline
Formula: Introducing/Announcing/New/Now/At last + [information]
Why do people read magazines and newspapers?
Because they love hearing about the latest and hottest news in town.
Legendary copywriter, Robert Collier in his book “The Robert Collier Letter Book” said
“What the world wants, and has wanted since the beginning, is news—something to flag its jaded interest, something to stir its emotions.”
Humans are curious in nature. We want to know what is happening, where it’s happening, why it’s happening.
So when you use a headline in a way that comes across as news, it compels your audience to click and read further.
Here are some powerful words you can use to write news headlines:
- At last
- Introducing, the latest flagship phone of the Huawei P series.
- At last! The secret of getting business loans without collateral.
- Now, you can get rid of snoring for good.
7. The Number Headline
Formula: [Number] [adjective] ways/tips/tricks to achieve [desired outcome]
I’m sure you’ve come across lots of articles that have numbers in the headline.
Hey! you are reading one right now.
It’s one of the most popular ways to write headlines and it works because numbers immediately tell the readers what to expect even before reading the content.
Also, research from the conductor says that 36% of people prefer to read posts with a number in the headline.
To make your headline even more compelling, you can add adjectives like fun, smart, best, free, strange, effective etc.
When using numbers in your headline, adding rationales like ways, secrets, techniques, tips, tricks gives people a reason to click on read further.
The best part about number headlines is Google ranks them faster.
I wrote an article on 13 romantic places to visit in Lagos and it currently ranks number 2 on Google.
In fact 8 out of the first 10 titles on Google contains a number.
- 10 fun ways to spend your Christmas holiday indoors
- 21 budget-friendly honeymoon destinations for newlyweds
- 13 copywriting tactics that will skyrocket your conversion rate.
8. The Mistake Headline
Some mistakes are inevitable. But we still try to avoid them.
This headline works because it draws people’s attention to find out whether they have been making costly mistakes that are affecting their business, health, relationships or finances.
- 7 deadly copywriting mistakes to avoid
- 9 Landing Page Mistakes That Make You Lose Business
- 5 Common Mental Errors That Sway You From Making Good Decisions
- 7 Deadly Car Seat Mistakes Even Experienced Parents Make
9. Little-known Headline
Formula: Little-known ways/steps/secrets/tricks to achieve [desired outcome]
This headline is similar to the secret headline formula but has a different angle.
Adding the phrase “little-known” adds an element of curiosity that says “hey, you are missing out on this important information.
And trust me, no one likes to miss out on things that concern them.
- 10 Little-Known Ways To Land New Copywriting Clients
- 13 Little-Known Steps to Monetize a Brand New Blog Successfully
- How These 7 Little Known Secrets Increased My Search Traffic by 45%
There you have it!
Nine killer headline formulas you can use to write your next viral post.
But one important thing to note is your headline will only work if it speaks directly to your target audience.
So you have to do research to:
- Understand who you are writing for
- Find out what keeps them up at night
- Determine the problems they are struggling with
- Know how to the best tips that will solve their problems.
Only then can you use any of these formulas to craft killer headlines that will leave them with no other choice but to click.
Do you have other killer headline formulas?
Kindly share in the comment below.