6 Proven Styles of Headlines that Really Work

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The headline is the first, and potentially the only, chance you have to make an impression on a reader. You may have just written the world’s best article, but it will all be for nothing if your headline isn’t up to scratch.

Great headlines grab attention and lure readers into reading the rest of the copy. Creating compelling headlines is a difficult process; even professional writers spend a considerable amount of time crafting winning headlines.

A crucial element of creating a winning headline is making a promise to the reader. It must offer the reader a substantial benefit or reward for them taking the time to read the copy.

Although creating compelling headlines is more of an art, than a science, there are still several types of headlines that are proven to work time and time again. Following is a selection of these “winning” styles of headlines.

Direct Headlines

Direct headlines are exactly what they say they are. They are straight to the point, with no attempt of wit or cleverness. The headline directly states the proposition.

Examples:

  • 50% of all Shoes
  • Free Cookies

Indirect Headlines

Indirect headlines are all about creating a certain level of curiosity, which is then answered by the content of the copy. Indirect headlines can also have multiple meanings.

Examples:

  • The Best Kept Secret in Media Planning & Buying
  • Plenty More Fish in the Sea

How to Headlines

How to headlines have been used forever, mainly because they work so well. Any headline that begins with the words “how to” has the potential to be a compelling headline.

Examples:

  • How to lose weight fast
  • How to Make Money Online

A Question Headline

Simply using a question as your headline is not enough. The question must be something the reader has the ability to empathize with or wants answered.

Examples:

  • What’s the Best Way to Build Muscle?
  • Who Else Wants to be Rich?

A News Headline

A news headline is all about creating headlines that are actually news. Many ads online use this technique, even though they aren’t actually news. This headline is best reserved for content that is actually newsworthy.

Examples:

  • New Diet Burns More Fat Than a Marathon a Day
  • Woman Discovers Cheap Alternative to Botox

Reason Why Headlines

These headlines give readers a specific reason to why they should read the copy. “Reason why” headlines work well as they contain specific numbers and facts.

Examples:

  • 101 Reasons to Join Greenpeace
  • 27 Ways to Make Money Online

In a Nutshell

Creating winning headlines takes practice, patience and a lot of testing. What may work for one piece of content, may be a complete failure when used elsewhere. Take your time crafting compelling headlines and don’t settle for anything that isn’t your best.

Over to you…

How much time do you spend creating your wining headline?  Does it come easy for you?  What’s your favourite type of headlines?  Share below…

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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