Whether we’re discussing copy, conversions, landing pages, SEO, content marketing, etc., headlines nearly always come up as a crucial piece of the puzzle.
But not all headlines are the same.
The type of headline you use on a landing page isn’t the same as you would use for a blog article.
The type of headline that will create engagement with your content is not the same that will close a sale.
There are a wide variety of headline “rules” out there, but which ones apply to landing page headlines vs. headlines seeking social shares?
Do you know the difference?
Can you think of a good rule for blog headlines that would be TERRIBLE on a landing page?
If not, you’ll want to read this.
2 Types of Headlines
Before we go any further, let’s discuss the two primary types of headlines.
- Content headlines (blogs/emails/social)
- Landing page headlines (value proposition)
Each of these headline types has a different purpose and requires a different approach.
1. Content Headlines
Content headlines have one purpose.
When you’re sending an email, you want opens (clicks).
When you are promoting a blog, you want clicks.
When you are sharing something on social media… clicks.
The primary goal of any content headline is to generate clicks, and the best way to get clicks is to create a curiosity gap.
The curiosity gap is why sites like BuzzFeed can get millions upon millions of views with some of the web’s weakest content.
It’s why they spend hours on headlines for posts that take 30 minutes to actually write.
Unlike BuzzFeed, you can’t get away with disappointing content, but you CAN utilize the curiosity gap in getting visitors to your site.
Clicking-through to your site takes 3 seconds. It’s an extremely low investment, and one most people are willing to make in order to satisfy curiosity. If you can create curiosity, you’ll get your 15 second shot at keeping the visitor.
If you don’t, the best content in the world won’t make up for it.
Here are a few ways to create a curiosity gap with your content headline.
A. Make a slightly outlandish promise.
Most of us understand, deep down, that there will ALWAYS be people who can do it better, faster, or with less effort than we can.
And we really, REALLY want to be in the know.
One of the easiest ways to generate curiosity is to make a slightly, but not too outlandish promise that suggests to viewers they are one click away from being “in the know”.
B. Cite numerical results.
Any fool with a computer can write a “how to” marketing article, and there are a lot of “fools” writing terrible advice for you at this very moment.
But what fools can’t do is get real results.
This is why case studies are so powerful. They cut through theory and rhetoric to give you a tangible example, and everyone loves real examples.
Seeing an actual number instantly makes replicating the result seem more achievable, and since we are all most interested in our own achievement, we become instantly curious to see if we too can replicate that number.
C. Allude to something fascinating without giving explanation.
One of the most commonly used (aka successful) tactics in creating a curiosity gap is to allude to information that you leave missing.
Often, this is simply a clickbait tactic (and will leave your readers disappointed), but it can also be used when you have something genuinely fascinating or compelling to talk about.
2. Landing Page Headlines
Content headlines are all about generating curiosity. This is exactly OPPOSITE of the strategy you should be using on your landing pages.
The goal of your landing page headline – also known as your “value proposition” – is to tell visitors exactly what your business can do for them.
You aren’t trying to create curiosity. In a manner of speaking, you are attempting to eliminate the curiosity gap, to remove the doubt and questions visitors have about what is separating them from their goals.
Your business is the answer to their problem.
The landing page headline is all about communicating that assurance, and there are a few key components to accomplishing this goal.
A. Target your specific audience ONLY.
Your headline should only be addressing your target consumer. That’s it.
You don’t care about anyone else. If they aren’t a potential customer, they don’t need to be wasting any time on your site. They certainly don’t need to be contacting you about something you don’t provide or taking up space on your email list.
Your landing page headline should be specifically targeted at ONLY your target audience.
B. Focus on the benefits being offered.
Your customers probably don’t care about how great your company is or how top-shelf your service is.
They have a specific need, and they want it filled. You are a means to an end, and your headlines should reflect that.
Unless brand story is a very specific piece of your marketing plan, don’t waste time talking about yourself. Focus on the benefits you will provide to your customers. Talk about them and how you are going to help THEM reach their goals.
C. Use explicit, crystal-clear wording.
Your landing page is not the place to be cute. It’s not the place to be artsy. It’s not even the place to be trendy.
Your landing page should be explicit. Every word needs to be direct, intentional, and clearly worded.
Readers should understand exactly what you are doing in less than 15 seconds.
Grab a random 3rd party right now. Show them your hero shot for 15 seconds, and ask them to explain your company. If they can’t do that, you need to rework your headline.
Remember, if you are writing headlines for content, your goal is clicks. If you are writing for landing pages, your goal is to give readers a crystal clear idea of how your business can solve their problems.
Keep this distinction in mind the next time you read a list of headline tips, and even more importantly, the next time you write a headline.