Most expert copywriters will tell you the headline is one of the most powerful elements on any marketing asset, be it an advert, brochure, sales letter or web page.
Add compelling, attention grabbing headlines to your web pages and you’ll nearly always get more sales.
The same principle applies to headlines on the front cover of magazines and newspapers -—the headlines directly influence sales. It’s one of the main reasons why their copywriters get paid so much.
Unfortunately a lot of people struggle to write great headlines.
I sometimes spend ages trying to devise a great headline for my sales pages and lead pages.
But I persist because I know the a good headline can be all the difference between a lead page that converts a high percentage of visitors into sales-leads, versus one which doesn’t do anything and wastes the money I spend driving traffic to it.
But therein lies another problem—when you think you’ve written a great headline… how can you be sure?
The ultimate test of course is to put the headline on a live webpage, and see if your sales increase.
Unfortunately you may end up testing a dud. It may not increase sales, or worse, even decrease sales—and you could have wasted a lot of time and money performing the test.
Obviously that scenario’s best avoided—it’s best to be confident a headline is good before testing it on a ‘live audience’, so to speak.
What Keeps YOU Awake at Night?
Here’s a very powerful tip from late copywriting master Clayton Makepeace—and this is a great tip because you can use it to instantly ‘score’ whether their new headline has any chance of generating a conversion on your lead page or sales page.
Clayton was quoted as saying something along the lines that a great headline is something your prospects would say at 2 a.m. in the morning, when they wake up in a cold sweat, worrying about something.
They’d sit bolt upright in bed, slap their forehead and say “If only I could…. ” (fill in the blanks with a problem or challenge).
So here’s an example of this in practice.
One of my clients had created a fantastic looking lead page, and been very proactive to actually get traffic (people) on to it.
But alas… no enquiries.
So I had a look at the page and I could immediately see it it failed Clayton’s “2.a.m. headslap” test.
Here’s the original headline…
“HOW TO QUICKLY BRIDGE THE KNOWLEDGE GAP
BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR ACCOUNTANT”
So we played the scenario through.
We asked the question “would anyone wake up at 2 a.m. in the morning, slap their forehead and exclaim “Oh I MUST bridge the knowledge gap between me and my accountant!”
No, of course not.
It doesn’t really mean anything. We can probably guess at the meaning — a ‘knowledge gap’ presumably means the things your accountant knows about your business that you don’t.
But the whole point with a headline is that you shouldn’t have to decipher it.
It should immediately and very deeply resonate with you the moment you see it.
This lady had made the mistake of using words that made sense to , but which probably didn’t make sense to her target audience. (In fact based on the statistics we KNOW it didn’t, because she tested it with live traffic and didn’t get any enquiries.)
So, we chatted about the product she’s created, and its benefits for a business owner.
Within a few minutes we came up with this possible alternative…
How to Cut Your Tax Bill in Half & Shave Hundreds of Pounds off Your Accountants Fees at the same time
So running our new headline through the “2 a.m. headslap test” —we can imagine a cash-strapped business owner lying awake in bed at 2am.
The previous day they’d just received a huge tax bill, or maybe a whacking great big bill from their accountant who hasn’t really helped their business in any way over the previous year.
It’s quite feasible they’d have a ‘2 a.m. headslap’ moment, where they’re lying awake in bed thinking “Those [insert expletive] accountants! They’d better reduce their bill or else!”
Or “Why did I get such a massive tax bill!? Why aren’t my accountants all over this?”
If they saw our new headline it would be far more likely to capture their attention and interest than the original headline.
Now I realise a full-time professional copywriter could no doubt come up with a much better headline.
But this only took us a few minutes to come up with, and anyone can see it stands a better chance of generating sales-leads (and ultimately selling her product) than the original headline.
Check all your webpages that aren’t working well (or even at all!).
Do they have headlines!? (I’m amazed at how many websites don’t have headlines on important pages.)
Do they pass Clayton’s 2 a.m. headslap test?
Get the best features of your product or service, translate them into benefits… and then make sure that how you explain those benefits front and centre in your headline.
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