Write an Engaging Headline: 9 Points to Help

by <strong>Alina Siddiqui</strong>

by Alina Siddiqui

Ghostwriter | Full Time Copywriter

As a copywriter, you are aware that the headline is THE single most important part of your copy.

Whether it’s a sales copy, an advertisment, blog article or even your website – it is the headline that captures attention.

But have you ever wondered….

What is the purpose of a Headline?

Expert copywriters from the past who have written copy for direct mail marketing – in a time where ads were solely dependent on traditional media knew a secret.

Every established copywriter knows the importance of a headline but how did they make their prospects read their ad?

They knew the purpose of writing the headline of their copy.

And that’s how they could grab their eyeballs and persuade a sale without even meeting their customer!

What did they know?

They knew that the purpose of writing any headline is to capture attention and make them read the next sentence.

Read that again…

You write a headline to make them read the next sentence! And the next sentence is written to make them read further and so on..

In the words of Joseph Sugarman, an expert copywriter and the author of the best-selling book “The Adweek Copywriting HandBook”, your headline must create a slippery slide that smoothly takes your customers on a journey without them even realising it!

What are some tips on writing an engaging headline?

From my personal experience, books and studies, I have gathered 9 important tips to spice up your headline.

1. Get to know your target audience!

It is important that you know the person you are writing the copy for so that you can target their emotions and personal habits better.

They are many good examples of brands who KNOW their customers well.

For example: Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan always write headlines that make me click.

You could find me reading Why Watermelons are Watery at 2AM just because the headline did its job well.

I promise, we copywriters aren’t immune to catchy headlines, too.

2. Make the first draft of the ad BEFORE starting your work on the headline.

I always jot down ugly drafts with grammatical and spelling errors before I get started on writing the headline.

After several drafts, I begin working on the headline from the best ideas I could gather. These imperfect drafts help me open on a wider horizon of ideas for headlines.

Several funky headlines later, I finally come up with a headline that I actually like. I write 3 more, just in case I don’t like it the next morning.

So, write your draft first and come back to the headline later.

3. Read your headline out loud

Yes, that sounds weird. But do it.

This is what most expert copywriters do to catch silly errors and tone mishaps in their copy.

Read your headline and your copy loudly so that you can point out any sentence or word that sounds lame or ‘salesy’.


3.1 Get your Copy Colleagues to read your Headline

Our brain plays wonderfully in making us believe that there are no mistakes when it is RIGHT IN FRONT of our eyes.

It could be typos or a huge grammatical error that you missed out even after reading your copy 6435928 times.

So, get someone read your copy and send it for proofreading or copyediting if you’re not really a grammar nerd.

4. Include a Benefit in your headline

What could be better than being straightforward with your readers rather than passing time.

Writing a benefit in the headline could hook the right audience who were or were not seeking for it.

Be smart in using the right words to convey benefits to the customers.

After all, the headline is written for them. Give them the right reason to connect with you.

5. Mention a problem or product in the Headline

When you know your audience, you are aware of their problems and what solutions could help them.

Use this information to sell them what could solve their problem. Write a headline that is relatable and speaks to their problems.

But remember, don’t make false or over-the-fence claims to sell. That’s a sign of unprofessional and unethical behaviour.

6. Go with the Classics

There are proven ways to convert your leads into customers that always work.

It is time to open your swipe file and browse through headlines that have worked successfully and use it as an inspiration.

But please remember, don’t copy it word to word! You must maintain a swipe file ONLY for inspiration that could boost your creativity.

7. Be straightforward

Well, believe me, sometimes the simplest headline does the trick.

You don’t need to write fancy, flashy headlines all the time. Having a direct approach could do it for you.

8. Get extremely creative

Contrary to what I just said, Come up with the most unexpected, craziest headlines ever.

Sometimes you never know, what could have done huge in numbers and don’t be scared to take risks. The riskier you get, the better

9. Perform an A/B Split Test

I cannot emphasise this enough. Always test two ad copies side by side to measure their performance and see what worked better with the audience.

This proves to be helpful in understanding your audience and knowing how to approach them correctly with your USP

What are your tips on writing a winning headline? Let me know in the comments.

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