The 4 U's of headlines that convert

Whether you’re writing a sales page for a new product, a blog post to promote a content upgrade, or a Facebook Ad for a webinar, your headline matters. Like a lot.

After all, your headline will determine whether your audience reads the rest of your copy or decides to move on with their lives. And data shows that changing just a single word in a headline can increase conversions by a whopping 46%!

That’s why advertising giant David Ogilvy always said that headlines are so important that they’re worth 90% of a business’s advertising budget.

How do you write headlines that are worth that kind of money and grab the attention of your ideal customer? Learn the 4 U’s of writing headlines that attract and convert.

 

 

Need some help writing headlines that convert?
Download my 72 free blog post headline templates.
(They work for other types of headlines too!)

 

 

1. Unique

Whether you create content for your business or as a business, you know that there’s no shortage of content out there these days. That’s why you can’t afford to write headlines that look and sound like every other headline out there.

Instead, if you want to gain an edge over your competition, you need to craft headlines that are unique. Headlines that are unique are refreshing, engaging, and interesting enough that they don’t automatically put your ideal customer to sleep.

How do you write headlines that convert by making them unique? Use slang, add personality, and don’t be afraid to be bold. Sure, writing a unique headline can feel scary and risky—doing something new is always a bit daunting. But if you can pull it off, you’ll be in a better position to distinguish yourself from your competition. And you’ll be more likely to connect with your ideal customer.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel to write a headline that’s unique. You can simply take an existing compelling headline and tweak it to put your unique spin on it.

Related: How to choose the right voice & tone for your blog or biz + free brand voice worksheet

Example: Jeff Goins makes this headline stand out by challenging the well-known archetype of the starving artist.

 

 

Example of a unique headline

 

2. Ultra-specific

Headlines that convert well are also ultra-specific. What exactly does this mean? It means that your headline contains enough info that your ideal customers can tell whether the rest of your copy or content would be interesting and relevant to them.

Ultra-specific headlines work because they answer the questions that your ideal customers have (“Why Pinterest is the platform your small business should be on”). They also promise specific benefits (e.g., “How to create your website in just 7 days”). And they clearly convey the value of your copy or content (unlike “clever” headlines that can be tricky to decipher).

But that’s not all. Ultra-specific headlines can also help your ideal customer know that your headline was written just for them.

For example, let’s say that I was writing a sales page for an online course that teaches health and wellness businesses how to improve their website to boost their sales. On my sales page, I could use a headline like this: “Is your website generating the sales you deserve?” This headline provides information about the topic of my online course (making a better website). And it describes the benefit of mastering it (generating more sales). But it doesn’t identify who the course is targeting in the way that this headline does: “Is your health and wellness website generating the sales you deserve?”

This second version makes it clear that my course is designed specifically to help people who own health and wellness businesses and want more sales from their website. For these business owners, it takes what may seem like a fairly general headline and turns it into something that suddenly feels very relevant to them.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally writing headlines that initially conceal the topic of your copy or content. You’re probably even used to seeing these fairly often in blind email subject lines (e.g., “You’ll never believe what happened yesterday”). But sticking to ultra-specific headlines most of the time can pay off by telling your ideal customer exactly what they can expect from the rest of your copy or content.

Related: 9 blog title generator tools to help you craft the perfect headline

Example: This blog post headline from Copyhackers is ultra-specific because it includes information about what the post is about (how to really understand your audience) and who it’s targeted to (marketers).

 

 

Example of an ultra-specific headline

 

 

 

Need some help writing headlines that convert?
Download my 72 free blog post headline templates.
(They work for other types of headlines too!)
Send me the free templates

 

 

3. Urgency

Looking for another great strategy to help you write headlines that convert? Convey a sense of urgency in your headlines. At a time when FOMO (fear of missing out) is at an all time high, leveraging urgency or scarcity can be particularly effective.

It’s easiest to create a sense of urgency when your ideal customer has an actual deadline for taking action (“registration closes TONIGHT”). Or when you have only a certain number of spots or items left (“only 5 spots left”).

But you can also create a sense of urgency by making the topic of your copy or content so important that your ideal customer can’t afford to put off reading it. Here’s an example of a headline that uses this approach: “How you’re losing money on your website every single day.”

Why does this create a sense of urgency? When business owners read it, they start to wonder what they’re doing wrong (or failing to do right) on their website. And they become curious about just how much money they might be missing out on. No business owner likes losing out on money. So when business owners see a headline like this, many of them will be motivated to read it right away.

Example: Melyssa Griffin creates a sense of urgency in this email subject line. She does this by telling her audience that they have just a few hours left to enroll in her course.

 

 

Example of urgency in a headline

 

4. Useful

This last U of writing headlines that convert may seem obvious. But it’s an important one to focus on because it’s arguably the most critical U of all. Why? Because your ideal customer is ultimately looking for something that will be useful to them in some way. They may be looking for information, a solution, or even just something that will make them laugh.

This is why it’s essential to write headlines that make the rest of your copy or content seem useful to your ideal customer. It’s also why it’s important to prioritize usefulness over cleverness in headlines. After all, if a headline is clever or witty but doesn’t clearly articulate the benefit of reading the rest of a sales page or blog post, your ideal customer may not bother to stick around. And you know what that means: you’ll end up with fewer leads, subscribers, or customers.

Related: 5 blog post headline mistakes you need to stop making

Example: This headline promises to tell people how Marie Forleo’s B-school course will help them transform an idea they have into an actual thriving business.

 

 

Start writing headlines that convert today

In sum, to write headlines that attract and convert your ideal customer, focus on making them unique, ultra-specific, urgent, and useful. You don’t need to incorporate all 4 principles into every headline you write. In fact, it’s rarely possible to pull this off (so if you do, hats off to you!).

But if you include 1-2 of them in your headlines, you’ll be able to attract and engage your ideal customers. And why is this important? It’ll give you the opportunity to convert them into actual paying customers.

 

 

Need some help writing headlines that convert?
Download my 72 free blog post headline templates.
(They work for other types of headlines too!)

Send me the free templates

 

 

 

 

 

The 4 U's of writing headlines that convert

The 4 U’s of writing headlines that convert + 72 free headline templates
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