There’s a reason marketers talk about the best headlines and calls to action more than anything else.
It’s because the best headlines and CTAs contribute more heavily to conversions than most entrepreneurs think.
Think about how people used to — and still do, in some cases — browse magazine racks. Most of them didn’t pick up a magazine until a headline caused them to act.
The best headlines on magazine covers actually move consumers to physically pick up a product and carry it to the register. Online, all you need is a click.
This doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels, though. Everyone’s competing in the Headline Olympics, and if you’re not bringing your A game, you’ll struggle to get the attention of your target audience.
So, how do you write the best headlines in your industry — or in any industry? What’s the secret sauce that elevates a mediocre headline to a great one?
The Importance of Great Headlines for Your Online Business
We’re not just talking about blog posts here. You likely write headlines for social media posts, invitations to sign up for your email newsletter, introductions to your pillar pages, and more. The best headlines compel consumers to keep reading.
That’s it. If your headline can’t convince people to read, you’re done.
You have to think of yourself as one of those carnival pitchmen. Their job was to convince patrons to hit the scale with a hammer or to get three darts to throw at a target.
The pitch was what brought people in. The best headlines do the very same thing.
Confusing, boring, vague, and dull headlines tell consumers that the rest of your content will be just as lifeless. You want people to assume you have the goods, then deliver on the headline’s promise. If you do that often enough, you’ll build a stable of loyal readers — and, with any luck, customers.
Of course, writing great headlines isn’t easy. You might write 10 different versions before you settle on one that really works. Let’s look at some of the best headlines to help you get started.
The 9 Best Headlines to Get More Conversions and Sales (Examples)
You might have run into lists of headline formulas before. They’re great for inspiring creativity as long as you use them for the right pieces of content. Let’s look at nine examples of some of the best headlines you can use for your online business and dissect why and how they work.
1. The X Best Ways to Get _______ Without _______
- The 10 Best Ways to Get Rich Without Working a 9-to-5
- The 101 Best Ways to Get Ripped Without a Gym Membership
- The 27 Best Ways to Get Investors Without a Boring Pitch
This type of headline preys on the reader’s desire to get something of value, such as money or a better body, without resorting to the most logical route. The trick with this type of headline is to make sure you’re not selling a bill of goods.
In other words, you need to deliver. Big time. Otherwise, readers will feel cheated.
You don’t have to use this exact wording. Many marketers think they need to copy the best headline formulas word-for-word. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
- The X Best Tools for Tracking Money Without Pen and Paper
- The X Kindest Gestures You Can Make Without Spending Money
- The X Most Outrageous Diets That Don’t Lead to Starvation
2. You’re Running Out of _______! Here’s How to Fix It
- You’re Running Out of Time! Here’s How to Avoid Missing Out
- You’re Running Out of Money! What Should You Do Next?
- You’re Running Out of Energy! Here’s How to Fix It
This is one of the best headlines to use when you’re going to hand your readers some intriguing advice. You know the pain point — no time! no money! no energy! — and you’re going to help people solve it.
Focus on a serious pain point that’s causing your readers distress. Make it more specific, if necessary to ensure you reach your target audience. For instance, you could say, “You’re Running Out of Money for Your Expansion! What Should You Do Next?”
3. We Need to Talk About _______. It’s a _______.
- We Need to Talk About AI. It’s a Game Changer.
- We Need to Talk About Budgeting. It’s a Necessary Evil.
- We Need to Talk About the Elephant in the Room. It’s Hurting You.
As you can see from the examples above, you can either be specific or vague with this headline. Not the type of vague that leaves readers confused or disinterested, but the kind that inspires curiosity.
There’s a delicate balance between creating a promise in your headlines and giving your readers a reason to click. If you’re too specific, even the best headlines won’t get clicks because readers won’t think they have anything else to learn from the copy.
4. You’ll Be _______ if You Miss This Guide to _______
- You’ll Be Sorry if You Miss This Guide to Writing the Best Headlines
- You’ll Kick Yourself if You Miss This Chance to Try Our New Course
- You’ll Be in Hot Water if You Miss This Guide to Celebrating Valentine’s Day
We’re trying to use diverse examples of the best headlines to show how they work in different situations. You can use these headline formulas for both serious and light-hearted topics as long as you give appropriate gravitas when it’s needed.
For this example, the best headlines let people know that they’ll miss out on something amazing if they fail to act. You’re playing on FOMO.
5. X of the _______ _______ You’ll Find Today
- X of the Best Blog Posts You’ll Read Today
- X of the Most Important Products You’ll Buy at the Supermarket Today
- X of the Most Eco-Friendly Companies You Can Work For
In this headline example, we’re combining an adjective with a noun. Try to choose an unconventional adjective to make the headline really pop. You can change it to singular form, too: “The Most Important Product You’ll Buy at the Supermarket Today.”
The best headlines prove themselves out with the copy. You want to make sure you’re not making a ridiculous claim. Back it up with as much data as possible so your readers don’t feel cheated or tricked.
6. Try _______ And Get _______
- Try Pilates and Get a Six-Pack
- Try Soy Milk and Save Dairy Cows
- Try Changing Your Sleep Patterns and Get More Done
Think of this type of headline as a challenge or invitation. You’re asking your audience to try something new — something they might object to — and get something beneficial in return. That’s how persuasion works: Ask someone to take action and tell them what they’ll get out of it.
The more surprising the result, the more clicks you’ll get. If you can promise to show someone how two seemingly unrelated things produce an amazing result, you’ll win over your audience in a second.
7. _______ Vs _______: Which Is _______?
- Mac Vs PC: Which Is Faster?
- Running Versus Cross-Training: Which Is Easier?
- Dog Versus Cat: Which Is the Best Pet?
Some of the best headlines introduce a comparison. Consumers make purchasing decisions by comparing one product against its competition, for instance, and they decide how to spend their time in much the same way.
Just make sure you’re comparing things that really matter to your audience and suggesting a benefit they’ll care about. In other words, the phrase that comes after “which is” should be targeted directly to your audience’s main pain point.
8. Are You Still Doing _______? You Might Regret It
- Are You Still Posting on MySpace? You Might Regret It
- Are You Still Driving a 10-Year-Old Car? You Might Regret It
- Are You Still in an Unhappy Marriage? You Will Regret It
We have another versatile headline option that you can massage to meet your needs. Notice the difference between the first two headlines and the last. It’s more definitive. We’re telling the audience that they’re going to regret not making a change.
This might seem like a doomsday-style headline, but it doesn’t have to be. You can use it for light-hearted and serious topics alike. And feel free to change up the language:
- Still Using MySpace? Get Out While You Still Can
- Hanging On to Your 10-Year-Old Car? Here’s What You’re Missing
- Stuck in an Unhappy Marriage? Check Out What Awaits You on the Other Side
9. Here’s What You Don’t Know About _______ That Could _______
- Here’s What You Don’t Know About Electric Cars That Could Bust Your Budget
- Here’s What You Don’t Know About SEO That Could Harm Your Business
- Here’s What You Don’t Know About Dog Training That Could Hurt Your Furry Friend
This is one of the best headlines to engage your audience’s curiosity and affect change. You want your audience to know that, by not educating themselves, they’re putting themselves in a dangerous or precarious position.
How to Write an Effective Headline
You’ve seen some of the best headlines around the web, but how do you emulate them to create your own genius headlines? And how can you adjust the formulas above to make your headlines more clickable?
The most important thing to remember about the best headlines is that they inspire curiosity. Consumers feel compelled to click because they need to know what’s on the other side of the headline.
In other words, you’d better deliver.
You can write the best headlines in the world, but if your content sucks, you’re in trouble with your audience. They won’t trust you anymore, which means lost revenue.
That’s why you might need to go back to your headline after you’ve written your copy. Does the article or other piece of content answer the headline in its entirety? If not, rewrite.
A great way to write an effective headline is to start with the result you’re promising. Better skin? More web traffic? A beautiful garden? Now, tie that result to a surprising fact from the story or copy. By combining those two concepts, you’ll ignite curiosity.
On the other hand, tie your result to a specific behavioral or attitude change. Show people they can get what they want if they do X, Y, and Z. If you hit a pain point, so much the better.
Checklist for great headlines
To make sure you’re writing the best headlines possible, print out and follow this handy-dandy checklist:
- Start with a promise. What do you want your reader to take away from the content?
- Add interesting verbs and adjectives. These parts of speech make your headlines stand out.
- Ask a question or make a comparison. Drive up curiosity by leaving the answer open-ended.
- Alternatively, state a controversial opinion. The reader knows what you think, but will want to learn your thought process behind it.
- Hit a pain point. Knowing your audience is key.
- Play with language. Sometimes a play on words, for instance, can clarify a headline rather than render it too vague.
Why You Should Test Different Types of Headlines
As you can tell from the list of best headlines above, there are lots of ways to take your headlines. You can create mystery, offer up a comparison, explain a controversial theory, or ask a question.
Additionally, the formatting of your headlines can change. You might have a statement, question, or combination of the two. There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules. Your job is to pique your audience’s interest and get them to click.
That’s why testing is essential to drilling down on the best headlines. You never know what your audience will respond to most, and A/B tests, such as those you can run through Crazy Egg, help you build hard data upon which to make decisions.
How to Test Headlines Step-by-step
You need at least two headlines to test. One is the control and the other is the variation. You might change just one word between the two or use a completely different version in the variation. It’s up to you.
Once both headlines are live on your site, set up an A/B test through Crazy Egg. It’s as easy as clicking on the icon and adding the relevant information. You can decide how long you want to run the test and other specific factors.
After you run your first test, Crazy Egg will tell you which version “won.” Don’t stop there, though. Keep testing your headlines, using new formulas and language, to further refine the best type of headline for your audience.
Start using Crazy Egg’s free trial to test your headlines
Did you know that you can start testing your best headlines now with a Crazy Egg free trial? Sign up for our newsletter to get free tips and advice from our team, and use your trial to get a feel for how Crazy Egg works.
The best headlines convince your audience to click. Of course, you have to follow up with amazing copy, but that’s a topic for another post.
You can write great headlines regardless of your experience. As long as you have a tool like Crazy Egg under your belt, you can test different headline formulas and figure out which work best on your audience.
Some writers prefer listicles. Others like to write step-by-step instructions. However, you can always reformulate the headline itself so it’s reflective of the copy and original to boot.