Make it conversational
Learn how people talk, and even how you talk when you're not being self-conscious or trying to sound “professional.” Strive to put that in your copywriting — especially your headlines. The more it sounds like real conversation, the more engaging it will be for your reader.
Enter the conversation already going on in the customer's mind
This famous piece of advice from 1930’s copywriting legend Robert Collier may be the single most important thing to remember when you start writing copy. It's a more specific version of my rule: Start where the reader is, not where you are.
— Visceral, Emotional, Resounding, Visual, Empathic. It's a memory-jogger to help you build the kind of headlines that get results. Point-by-point:
Visceral literally means having to do with your intestines — your guts. A visceral headline is very physical and immediate.
Emotional means, the headline appeals to your reader's feelings.
Resounding means it sounds like someone talking. Your reader can “hear” you saying the headline, because it comes across as conversational language.
Visual means the reader can picture what your headline is about
Empathic means the reader feels you understand how he or she feels
Walk the fine line between fact and hype
A timid headline won't do you any good, but neither will one that is so over-the-top that no one will believe it. Make the biggest claim you can make, and still prove in your copy.
Understand the ultimate purpose of your headline is to get your reader to read the next line of copy
Don't sum up everything you're about to say later in your headline. Create intrigue, curiosity and desire. Leave 'em hungry for more!
Don't be clever
Most of the time, the urge to be clever is a shortcut to avoid doing the work of creating an enticing promise that will prepare the reader to take the action you are looking for. Resist the temptation; a straightforward headline almost always works better than a clever one.
Don't be boring
Remember that ultimately, what you are looking for is action. Action involves motion. Motion is prompted by emotion. And emotion is generated by excitement. Don't settle for a headline that is more likely to produce a yawn than anything else.
Don't assume your prospect knows what you know
It’s easy to fall into the trap of forgetting all the time and effort you put into building the knowledge and expertise you have on the product, service or information you are marketing. Make the effort to turn back the clock, in your mind, to when you knew far less. Don't write your headline for sophisticated people; write for the person who needs to learn more.
Don't focus on your process
Remember Mr. Scott and the grass seed? People aren't interested, initially, in how the seeds are selected, or developed, or, for that matter, stored or shipped. People are interested in greener lawns, their end result. Don't focus on your process; focus on what the prospect gets.
Don't merely try to arouse curiosity
You have to do better than that if you want your prospect to get up enough of an emotional head of steam to be ready to buy, or take some other crucial action, after they finish reading your copy. Curiosity at the outset won't do it. Curiosity's good, but what's more important is desire. And intrigue.