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The Untold Secrets Behind Top Performing Headlines

Headlines that are so effective at banking in cash


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Nick Chai

a year ago | 10 min read

Many think that headlines must sell the content or the offer to get people to read the copy. I’m telling you that is the worst thing you can do to your headlines. They are never meant to sell anything.

They are meant to get the audience to read the first line of copy. That’s all. It may sound easy but oftentimes I see marketers and copywriters try to sell right off the bat.

The moment your audience lays their eyes on your headline, it has to accomplish three things: to create desire, to make the audience feel something, and to make the audience believe your claim.

Once these three things are accomplished, only then you have earned their click. Great headlines are a doorway to unlimited earning potential. They build trust with the audience and offer them a viable solution.

As David Ogilvy, a legendary copywriter in the 50s, once said,

“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Here’s an outline of what this article covers:

  • The real job of headlines you might have overlooked
  • The desire of your audience is the foundation
  • Emotionally striking headlines are the king
  • Never, ever bulls**t your audience!
  • Polish your headlines with the 4 Us (Example headlines given)
  • Conclusion

The real job of headlines you might have overlooked

As I mentioned, the headline is never meant to sell. And it never will. You’d struggle to get your audience to read your copy if this mindset persists in your mind.

Take this article, for example, I never sold you anything. You’re reading this right now because I did my research.

I know what you’re looking for and what you want to know in regards to headlines. Once I had done my research, I wrote the article and hit publish. That’s all I did.

It’s my proudest achievement that you’re still reading up to this point. “Good stuff” is coming so keep reading.

Think of your headlines like a door to your shop. A glass door would be great. The way you decorate your door will attract certain types of shoppers. And these shoppers well…buy.

The desire of your audience is the foundation

The headline is never about you. It’s never about your audience either. The headline is all about your audience’s deep-seated desires.

That’s what they care about. If you ever see how people scroll their social media feed, you’ll know why this statement is inevitably true.

Let their deep-seated desires guide you through your headline formation. They may say they don’t like clickbait headlines. But when you test, those types of headlines perform the best.

People say one thing and act the other way around. It’s human nature. Our emotions affect the majority of our decision-making process regardless of our logic.

So how do you apply this profound principle in your headline? Easy. Know your audience’s pain points inside out and use the keywords associated with those pain points.

It has to be clearly stated so your audience will stop scrolling once they see it. This article’s headline is the perfect example.

There’s no jargon or complicated words in the headline. It’s clear and highly emotional. People can decide, in split seconds, to click through or move on.

The key here is to be clear and concise. If you need to re-read your current headline a few times, you need a new headline. Rewrite it until you can tell what it’s about in one glance.

Another tip I have for you is to write problem-solving content such as this article. The reason being curiosity is a powerful emotion you can take advantage of in your headline.

Our brains are hardwired to bridge the gap of our existing knowledge with something that’s entirely new to us. Curiosity is the second most powerful emotion in marketing after fear.

Emotionally striking headlines are the king

Desire in headlines is a commodity. Meaning similar headlines to yours will have their keywords in place. It makes theirs identical to yours. And emotions in headlines are the key differentiator.

Emotions make your headlines “attractive” to click on and find out more about the good stuff behind those enticing headlines.

The psychology behind highly emotional words such as superlatives and adjectives is an interesting topic of its own. We associate certain emotional words with real-life events.

And when we see certain words that we are familiar with, our brain will trigger an emotional response associated with the words. Once we are emotionally charged, we are compelled to take action. It’s a biological response.

This is exactly why you should supercharge your headlines with emotions. It’s fairly easy to do despite needing abstract and critical thinking. Let me give you one example. The original headline of this article is ‘The Fundamentals of Writing Great Headlines’. Sounds boring, right?

I thought of the time when I stopped scrolling on Facebook because the headline of an article is intriguing. I recalled my emotions at that moment. That’s how ‘The Untold Secrets Behind Top Performing Headlines’ is born.

Never, ever bulls**t your audience!

There’s a valid reason why people say they hate clickbait. These types of headlines are too good to be true and oftentimes overpromising. I couldn’t agree more.

But these types of headlines perform incredibly well despite all the negative comments about them. In this section, I am going to teach you how to write clickbait headlines that will not be frowned upon and ignored.

It can be done. You just need to be extra careful when you write these types of headlines. Once you have mastered writing them, it will never be the same. Click-throughs will soar, conversions skyrockets.

If that’s what you desire, read this section with all your heart. I don’t want to convince you of something that you don’t like. Read at your own discretion.

As long as you’re in the industry of selling, you should know that people are skeptical to some extent. No matter what type of buyers they are. Acknowledging that skepticism, instead of trying to overcome it, is your biggest weapon.

When you are writing super punchy and emotionally striking headlines, it’s of the utmost importance to keep them believable. I repeat…it’s of the utmost importance to keep them believable.

In your research, you need to find out what are your audience’s so-called “bulls**t triggers”. These triggers are meant to protect their status quo. It’s like a safe trying to protect its valuable treasures inside.

What happens when you try to breach the safe? It triggers the alarm. The same goes with your audience’s “bulls**t triggers”. In simple terms, you shouldn’t overpromise them with things they don’t believe to be true.

I’m certain you won’t read this article if the headline goes like, “How clickbait will flood your website with millions of online visitors every month”.

For those that hate clickbait, it’s bulls**t. Readers will be skeptical, even for non-clickbait-haters. But people know, to master headlines, they need to master the basics first. Hence, my headline is safe and believable.

The context of the headline needs to make logical sense inside your audience’s heads. And it has to be true in their perception. Unbelievable context creates resistance. Resistance kills curiosity. Without curiosity, there’ll be no clicks.

Polish your headlines with the 4 Us

Headlines that come fresh out of your mind are rarely usable. Not saying you are bad at writing. I am implying that draft headlines should be polished before they are published.

Polished headlines are the ones that get attention and stop scrolls. But how do you polish your headlines? Use the 4 Us.

Usefulness

Before your headline can make people curious and stop them from scrolling, it needs to be highly relevant and super useful to your audience. Take bloggers for example.

Talking about the best ways to get leads won’t intrigue them as much as the latest hacks to ranking on the first page of Google.

The key to writing useful headlines to your audience is research and empathy. You need to do enough research to know what excites your audience.

The next thing would be using your research to do all the things we discussed prior to this section. Use their desire, supercharge with emotions, and be believable.

Never forget to provide a solution to their pain too. Providing solutions to your audience is a surefire way to be useful, especially in your headlines. People always pay attention to things that are beneficial to them.

Example headlines:

  • 10 Easy Hacks To Transform Your Ordinary Lawn Into A Beautiful Garden
  • Chef Ramsay Teaches You His Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes
  • This 6.5-inch Smart Device Might Replace Your Laptop And Change The Way You Work Forever
  • A Simple Hack To Boost Your Internet Speed Without Installing Anything
  • Bored At Home? Try These Multiplayer Shooting Games On Steam

Urgency

Urgency is the most underrated element in marketing nowadays. When people think of urgency, price cuts will always come to mind. It’s so much more than that.

Urgency is not a hack or tactic to make more sales, it’s an incentive to have people act now instead of later. In the digital space, split-second decisions make a huge difference.

Urgency is a feeling of excitement. Headlines filled with elements of excitement produce the most clicks throughs. It’s human nature. It’s your audience’s nature.

What happens when you try to go against the audience’s nature? You lose. Hard cold facts. Too much urgency in your headline would make your headlines too good to be true, however.

So the best and safest way to use this type of headline for maximum results is to do it sparingly and wisely. Use it only when your post-click copy is converting well or when you’re selling something.

Urgency headlines do a great job of generating the desire for warm and hot audiences.

Example headlines:

  • You Gotta Try This Delicious Peanut Butter Jem Everyone Is Talking About
  • Hurry! Our Limited-space Registration Is Open. First Come, First Serve.
  • Uniqlo Released A Collaboration T-shirt With Disney And They Are Selling Hot Like Pancakes!
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 Crashes The Box Office With $609 Million Opening In Just 48 Hours
  • Arianna Grande Has Officially Released Her Highly Anticipated Wedding Album To The Public

Ultra-specificity

When a headline describes some event with extreme specificity, I bet anyone reading it would be curious. Even if they don’t have any interest in that particular subject.

The headline is so specific that it creates massive curiosity from readers. This is what this type of headline is all about — generate strong desire and interest through curiosity.

In my experience, ultra-specific headlines are by far the most effective in the news and media industry. But that doesn’t mean you can’t “steal” it and use it for your business.

Well, not copying them word for word. By “steal” I mean copy their structure and improvise. Doing this will gain you an enormous amount of clicks you could never imagine.

There’s a science behind why ultra-specific headlines work well. It’s all thanks to the information-gap theory. This theory suggests that we as humans can’t have open loops in our minds.

We’ll always try to close the gap because humans are curious by nature. It’s the same concept when you stay all night to binge your favorite Netflix series.

Example headlines:

  • Low-levels Of Testosterone Is Killing Your Chances Of Getting Dates With Women According To Health Experts
  • Apple’s Privacy War With Facebook Will Shield You From Various Internet Scams Says Apple’s Head Of Privacy Security
  • If You Put Your Car On Neutral While Waiting For Traffic, You’re Destroying Your Car’s Engine Box
  • Want To Grow A Few Inches Taller By The End Of Summer? You Need To Check This Program Out
  • Here’s How You Can Pay Almost Nothing And Still Have Access To The Internet Anywhere You Go. Telco Companies Hate This.

Uniqueness

What do I mean by unique? Take this headline for example: (Just Launched!) The Complete Korean Skincare & Beauty Online Course That’ll Turn You into A K-Goddess In Less than 8 Hours.

A unique headline is a headline that’s targeted towards a specific group of audience. Just like this online skincare and beauty course.

This type of headline is used in product launches or blogs. They speak directly to the targeted audience. And they’re super effective too. They filter off those who won’t lay a finger and attract those who are highly interested and invested. Perfect for selling and marketing.

One thing you should know about this unique type of headline is it’s already specific by nature. The best way to make them work is to be clear on the where and who. You should promote these headlines to the right audience on the right channel.

Example headlines:

  • Marketers…Here’s The New Tool That’ll Save You Hours On Writing High Converting Copies
  • Calling Out To Swifties! We Got Special Access To Her Unreleased Album. Be The First Ones To Listen.
  • This Freelance Copywriter Is Giving You Access To His Six Figures Business Framework For Only $7
  • Everything You Need To Make A Full-Time Income Through E-commerce Is Inside This Course
  • AI Writers Are Predicted To Replace Copywriters Anytime Soon. Copywriters, Here’s Why You Don’t Have To Worry About It.

Conclusion

Writing top-performing headlines isn’t rocket science. You need to be very familiar with the particular subject you’re writing about to make your headline work. You need to know your audience better than they know themselves. And practice does make perfect. Combine the basics in this article with lots of practice and reading. You’ll be a headline whiz in no time.

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Created by

Nick Chai

Freelance Conversion Copywriter

Your sales message is the fundamental key to marketing success. I'm writing to share everything I know about neuromarketing so you can apply what works to get more leads and sales. Follow me for more content on persuasion and marketing.


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