How to Write A GREAT Headline for Your Homepage in Less Than 30 Minutes
Spend any time looking around the Internet for marketing advice and you’ll see a lot of people telling you the same thing: “Improve the copy (or ‘words’) on your website… you’ll improve your leads.
What this means is that by using the tried-and-tested ‘sales language’ (generally referred to as copywriting) that smart marketers and advertisers have developed over the years (a language based on human psychology and behavior), your site will do a much better job of attracting high-quality prospects, moving them through your content, and ultimately closing the sale- all because your copy was not just persuasive- but compelling! Sounds pretty good, right?
Girl (with a half-eaten bagel but full cup of coffee) doing some writing
However the problem is that when you hear that- “You’ve got to learn how to be a copywriter!”- it kind of freaks you out, right. How do you learn how to be a better copywriter?? What are these ‘magic words’? Is this just one more thing you’ll have to master while you’re trying to build your small business?? After all, you’re trying to SAVE time, not spend MORE of it learning yet another new skill.
“Your site will do a much better job of attracting high-quality prospects, moving them through your content, and ultimately closing the sale.”
While becoming a really good copywriter does take practice and time, you can still make a big improvement pretty quickly. We’re going to go over that today!
Someone with a yellow watch hard at work coming up with earth-shattering copy. Good on you!
Just like every journey starts with the most important step (the first one), we’re going to start with and focus on the most important part of your website copy: the opening headline.
It’s the first thing your prospects are going to read, and it’s going to either compel them to keep reading… or cause them to close out your browser window (which we definitely don’t want).
What does yours say?
“It’s the first thing your prospects are going to read, and it’s going to either compel them to keep reading… or cause them to close out your browser window (which we definitely don’t want).
COUNTRY MUSIC & COPYWRITING
Before we start wading into the weeds, I’ll tell you a quick story.
Before I started my business, I was a country music songwriter living in Nashville. Writing in Nashville is like a mini-crash course in copywriting.
You’ve got 3-3.5 minutes to tell a story and make people FEEL something that they relate to. Moreover, it’s got to be fresh and original!
When I started writing country songs, I didn’t really know how to do that. I wrote and I wrote, but I just couldn’t get across the right combo of words, imagery, and story that would take people to the end of a song and have them feeling something.
However, the more I wrote, the more I studied some of the great songs in the genre, the more I co-wrote with veteran songwriters that had been around the block a time or two, I quickly learned how to craft the songs I was writing in a way that would move people. Copywriting is no different!
Like songwriting, it’s not something that’s God-given; it’s not something that “some have… some don’t.” It’s a learned skill, and you get to be a good copywriter the same way someone gets to be a good songwriter: by just writing!
So with that in mind- that it’s OK to not be a great copywriter right NOW (as in, ‘today’)- that’s it a skill you have to practice and try your hand at (pun intended!), let’s go over a few tactics on how to improve the part of your site that people see first: the front page headline.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FRONT PAGE HEADLINE
The great marketer Ted Nicholas claimed that a great headline can be up to 17 times more effective than a regular, boring headline with no thought put into it. That’s a pretty sizeable difference!
Headlines are what hooks the reader- what pulls them in and makes them want to continue to read down your page. It’s what starts the sales journey that hopefully results in your prospect reaching out and asking for a meeting.
So how can we take these ideas in our heads and use them to craft the headlines for our own home pages? Well… we’re going to write. And we’re going to write a lot! But it’ll be really fun and pretty quick, and within 30 minutes, you’re going to have a MUCH more compelling headline than when you started.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT HEADLINE?
Ok, so we know WHY we need a good headline… but what should it SAY?
When you’re coming up with your front page headline, always remember to address the benefit of your product/service. Most people go wrong here and talk about the features- don’t do that! Remember Apple’s first headline for their first iPod?
“1000 songs in your pocket.” THAT’S an awesome, compelling benefit! They didn’t talk about the technology, the hard drive capacity, the weight of it. It wasn’t:
“Enjoy 16GB of space- more than any CD player!”
“Crystal clear sound in a small package.”
Those are features. The benefit of the iPod? That you could carry your whole music collection around in your pocket.
Or take the Tesla Model S. The features of a Tesla (touchscreen technology, automatic suspension adjustment, electric vehicle) aren’t as important to buyers as the benefits (Save money on gas, made for tech people, enjoy the highest-safety rating ever on any car). So when crafting your headline, think about the BENEFIT to your client.
It can be challenging at times to separate benefits from features, but a great way to do it is to list all the features of your service, and then follow that with: “Meaning you get to…”.
Let’s try that with a wedding DJ:
“We bring our own sound system, meaning you get to… enjoy your Wedding Day without having to stress about rental fees, returning speakers, and making sure the music sounds good.”
By using that template, you’ll start to see the benefits through the features.
You also want to use the headline to illustrate what your company does. You don’t have to explain literally, but it’s always good to allude to it. Maybe for photographers, it could be, “We capture the moments that move you.” That headline tells the reader what they do (“capture moments” – taking pictures), and then the benefit to that (“we get the special moments on camera, so you can relive that emotion every time you look at them.”) It’s not talking about the HD camera they use, or the turnaround time on the pictures, or the awards they’ve won.
Finally, you want your headline to appeal to a person’s emotions. Remember, people buy based off emotion, then use logic later to justify the purchase. Using emotion-driven words like secret, underground, what no one tells you, free, magical, instantly, startling, safe, embarrassed, advantage, confident can really inject some feeling into your copy.
So now we know why a good headline is important and what it should say, so let’s get to writing!
People buy based off emotion, then use logic later to justify the purchase.
OUR 4-STEP, 30-MINUTE METHOD:
1. WRITE DOWN 40-50 OPTIONS (15 mins)
Before we start, remind yourself not to be intimidated by this number- remember, the goal of this post is to land our headline in under 30 minutes.When you’re brainstorming your headline for your homepage, start by setting a timer for 15 minutes. Then, write down 40-50 options for a homepage headline. The idea here is to not really think about it. The timer keeps you moving and the number of headlines you’ve got to come up with (40-50) prevents you from spending too much time on each one.
2. LET THEM SIT FOR A DAY, THEN COME BACK AND PICK OUT YOUR FAVORITE 5 (10 mins)
When I was writing in Nashville, we’d often get stuck in the middle of a verse or a chorus for hours. Then, we’d go get lunch (or even schedule another write a week later), come back, and knock it out in 10 minutes. When we got it all down, it was so obvious- “Gosh, how did we not think of this last time?”Copywriting works the same way- if you think about it for a while, everything starts to run together and not make sense. So after our 15 minutes basically spilling our words on the page, we’re going to put all those ideas away for the day. Sleep on em! Let ‘em ferment for a night. When you come back, most times the obvious headlines will pop out to you, which is super refreshing.
3. HAVE A FRIEND READ YOUR FAVORITE 5 OUT LOUD, AND WATCH THEIR EXPRESSIONS/VOICE TO PICK YOUR WINNER (5 mins)
Once you get your Fave 5 down, take them to a friend and have him/her read them out loud, asking them which one ‘speaks’ to them the most. 9/10 times, there will be one or two that, when read, will noticeably change the expression on their face or make their voice go up a little. THAT’s the one you want to focus on! Chances are if you take your top 10% out of 50, you’ll have a hunch for which one you love, and if that matches what your friend likes, you probably have a winner. If you’re not convinced, try another person or two and see what they say. All of a sudden, you’ve got a tested, proven headline to put on your homepage. Works like a charm!
14 TIPS WHEN COMING UP WITH YOUR HEADLINE OPTIONS
When I did this exercise, I got stuck too! If you do, here are some things you can do to give you some quick ideas:
1. DON’T USE CLICHES OR SUPERLATIVES LIKE “THE #1…” OR “THE BEST IN….”
This only works with older generations. People are pretty blind (and annoyed by) claims of a company being “#1”.
2. USE SPECIFIC NUMBERS
“How One Man Lost 116 Pounds Without Dieting.”
3. REMOVE LIMITATIONS FROM THE CLAIM
“It’s Possible to Get Amazing Stock Photography without Having to Pay a Fortune?”
4. ASSOCIATE THE CLAIM WITH A PERSON OR A VALUE
“Why these Hollywood Celebrities Keep Using…..”
5. STATE THE CLAIM AS A QUESTION
“Are You Ready to Create Copy with This Simple Program?….”
6. OFFER INFORMATION ON HOW TO SOLVE THE CLAIM
“How to Pick the Perfect Email System for Your Company….”
7. GIVE AUTHORITY TO THE CLAIM
“An Award-Winning Chef Reveals the Perfect-Tasting Burger…”
8. SYMBOLIZE THE CLAIM
“Starting Today, Your To-Do List just Shrunk by a Mile.”
9. CONNECT THE NEED AND THE CLAIM IN THE HEADLINE
“The Only Way to Keep Your Dance Floor Packed: Hire Awesome DJs, Inc….”
10. GIVE A NAME TO THE PROBLEM OR NEED
“Having Trouble Breaking Away from the ‘Same Ole, Same Ole Workout-itis? Welcome to….’
11. STATE THE DIFFERENCE IN THE HEADLINE
“The Difference in Our Food is Found in the Ingredients.”
12. TALK TO THE PEOPLE WHO YOUR SERVICE IS NOT MEANT FOR
“For the Employers Who Paid Thousands in Taxes Last Year, You Might Not Want to Read This….”
13. ADDRESS YOUR PROSPECT DIRECTLY
“For the Small Business Owner Who Wants….’
14. MAKE THE CLAIM SOUND TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
“Is it Really Possible to Have A Product That Makes THIS Much Money?”
SOME GREAT HEADLINE TEMPLATES
If you’re still stuck, here are some headlines you can use as a starting point. Take their basic structure and use them as the basis for your own headline:
“The Secret to Writing Amazing Headlines…”
“How to Wow Your Clients During Your Next Presentation…”
“Have You Made This Mistake When Hiring Your Last Employee?”
“You Can Take the Stress Out of Planning A Presentation by Following This Simple Process…”
“When CEOs Need Help, They Choose…”
“The Top 10 Ways to…”
“How a Marketing Company Learned To…”
“What Everyone Should Know About…”
“Discover How To …”
“Why are we telling ______ how to ________ for free?”
“How This Employer Saved $XYZ on his Taxes Last Year”
“’Wow!,’ they Exclaimed, ‘How Did You Find This Amazing Employee?!”
“If Your Best Friend Was a Marketing Expert, He’d Tell You…”
“Why 225 CEOs Have Chosen….”
“Guaranteed to….. Without…..”
“What the (XYZ) Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know About…”
“Are You Ready to Get…. in Just… (insert short amount of time)?”
“Can You Really Get… (your service) for Just…. (amount of money)?”
“The Right Way to…. (your service and a benefit)”
Those should be able to get you a quick start! You’ve got this- just spend the 30 minutes, and by this time tomorrow, you’ll have a SUPER strong headline for your front page, and should see an uptick in conversions on your wedding website.
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