The 2 most popular types of headlines & how to master them (incl. formulas)

The 2 most popular types of headlines & how to master them (incl. formulas)

Topic
Copywriting
Publish Date
Apr 22, 2022
Must-Read
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.“ –David Ogilvy (copywriting & advertising legend)
 
Your headline is the first thing people see...whether you’re writing a blog post or publishing a landing page.
And that means it has to immediately grab your reader’s attention and draw them in before they wander off to the next open Chrome tab.
The only job of your headline is to make them read the next line. Nothing else.
It doesn’t have to convey ALL the information at once (a mistake I often see).
 
After having written and studied hundreds of headlines as a copywriter, I found that two types of headlines are most common and powerful.
When you master those, you’ll be able to create compelling headlines
I call them the “Goal Headline” and the “Struggle Headline” and in this post, I’ll show you how to use them correctly.
 
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A note for course creators: Remember that the name of your course is NOT your headline on your course landing page.

The Goal Headline

You’ve undoubtedly seen this type of headline. It focuses on the benefits or outcomes that someone will get. It speaks to their dream state, where they want to be.
 
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Examples:
  • Design a content strategy that powers all your marketing efforts — and generates faster business results. (Content Marketing 201 by Amanda Natividad)
  • How to build a high value audience (Audience Building by Blake Burge and Sahil Bloom)
  • Go from novice to confident stock market investor in 30 days (Anyone Can Invest by Andy Gupta)
  • Turn Your Big Ideas into a Life-Changing Essay (10x Writing Bootcamp by Justin Mikolay)
  • Future-proof your career by owning your narrative, network & knowledge in a digital-first world (Career Capital by Kim Kaupe)
  • Become 2x Better at Writing in 10 Days (Power Writing by Shaan Puri)
 

How to create a Goal Headline

Talk to your potential customers and ask them what they’re hoping to achieve.
You’ll know they’re talking about their goals when they start sentences like “I want to…” or “I wish it were easier to…” Make sure to write down all goals they mention.
Now pull out the ones that you think will resonate with most of your prospects.
To formulate your headline, complete the sentence: “Now you can…”
Ultimately, you’re making a promise to your reader. Think about what people will ultimately get out of your course or product.
 
Additional formulas you can try:
How to [achieve what they want] without [the things they hate] How to [achieve what they want] even if [what's holding them back] How to [achieve what they want] in only [timeframe]
 
Now you might wonder: Aren’t these types of headlines overused?
Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll start seeing them everywhere.
The point is that they work. Unless you’re going for something incredibly generic such “How to achieve your dreams.”
And if you don’t want to go for a Goal Headline, you have a stellar alternative that I’ll introduce next:

The Struggle Headline

The Struggle Headline leads with the main problem your audience faces. Usually, this is something that they’ve already accepted as being part of their lives but are reluctant to take action on.
 
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Examples:
  • If your business can’t operate without you 90% of the time, you don’t have a business - you just have a job. (The 20 Hour CEO by Christine Carrillo)
  • Is all the interesting information you’re consuming leading to meaningful results in your life … or is it going to waste? (Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte)
  • The pivotal question as you start typing in that Google Doc: “Do I actually know what I’m doing?” (Copy School by Joanna Wiebe)
 
By calling out the elephant in the room straight away, you show that you “get” your readers. When you demonstrate that you understand their struggles well, they’re way more likely to trust you that you know the solution.

How to create a Struggle Headline

As you talk to your (potential) customers, ask them what’s holding them back from achieving their goals.
You’ll know that they’re talking about their problems when they start sentences with “I hate it when…” or “I’m tired of…” or “Why can’t I just…”
Make note of what problem comes up for most people you talk to.
 
Now, you might feel a bit of resistance against writing a Struggle Headline because it can feel negative calling out what’s wrong.
Here’s how to circumvent that: Write your headline in the first person and with quotation marks, as if someone else is saying it.
You can then follow up your Struggle Headline with Goal Subheadline to show your readers the way out.
 
Let me give you an example by rewriting a Goal Headline:
Goal Headline: Future-proof your career by owning your narrative, network & knowledge in a digital-first world
Struggle Headline + Goal Subheadline: “I’m worried I’ll become obsolete and lose my job soon.” Here’s how to future-proof your career by owning your narrative, network & knowledge in a digital-first world
 
And that’s all the basics you need to know to craft compelling headlines that pull your readers in and keep them glued to your landing page.