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9 plug & play headline formulas that sell

9 plug & play headline formulas that sell
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Read time: 5min

When it comes to effectively marketing and selling digital products online, nothing is as important as crafting a powerful and compelling headline. It’s been tested, talked about, and restated time and time again.

According to the legendary ad man David Ogilvy…

“On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.”

This quote was made well before online marketing was ever a thing, but isn’t even truer today? Don’t you scroll through ads, posts, and emails faster than ever before? We all do.

The truth is it’s never been as important as it is today to master writing a powerful headline. And while there’s no single “right way” to do this, there are definitely wrong ways.

How Not To Write A Headline

A headline's main purpose is to stop your reader and get their attention, right? Well technically yes, but there are other factors to consider. You see many new digital marketers or copywriters focus too much on getting the attention that they do so without ever considering the “costs” of doing it in certain ways.

They use bold words, repetitive personalization, or just consistently go too far in hopes of stopping or “jarring” the reader. So what’s the problem?

Well, you remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? He did it too many times that ultimately his audience paid him no heed, even at the moment he really needed him. The same thing happens to this kind of marketer.

So yes, your headline should stop your reader. And yes, it should capture the attention. But it should always be honest and never misleading. Feel free to bolster it up and give it some theatrical appeal, just be careful of “crying wolf” when it might not be needed. Simple still works. 

9 Easy To Follow Headline Formulas

Obviously, these 9 are not the end all be all of headline formulas. But as you’ll soon see, they can be used again and again, or even combined allowing you to crank out copy faster than ever before.

#1: The Secrets of…

Using the word secret will almost always help get the attention of your reader. For the record, even in our Google world, we definitely still believe there are secrets. How monks can do a one-finger push-up or how some use webinars to sell 10’s of millions of dollars? There’s probably something they know that we don’t.

So use secrets. They work.

Like all of these headline formulas, you’ll want to tailor them to fit the desires, pains, problems, and curiosities of your intended audience. So if you sold online courses teaching guys how to get buff, here’s how you might use this example…

  • The Secrets of Putting On “Quick Muscle”
  • The Secrets of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Chest Workout
  • The Secrets of Skinny Guys Turned Buff Bros

#2: Get [Result] Without [Struggle]

This formula helps to address an objection right up in the headline. You’re communicating you can help them get the desired result without a normal hurdle, concern, or typical issue they’ve faced before.

If you sold a membership site that helps actors find gigs, it could look something like this…

  • Get Commercials Without Feeling Desperate
  • Get Paid Acting Gigs Without Years of Free Work
  • Get Connected With Producers Without Begging For Attention

#3: Who Else Wants…

This is a classic headline which leverages social proof. It communicates that others are taking advantage of some benefit which means this prospect will be missing out if they don’t. 

When creating headlines or any copy in general, interweaving emotional hooks is always a good idea. Remember, we buy on emotion and then explain our purchase with logic. So leading with emotion can work.

If you were selling life coaching, here’s how you could use this headline…

  • Who Else Wants To Break Free Of Limiting Beliefs?
  • Who Else Wants To Crush Their Goals In 2019?
  • Who Else Wants To Make More Money Online?

#4: What Everybody Ought To Know About…

Another classic template here. It can be used to effectively “expose” bad practices, myths, or misinformation within your niche or industry.

It can also be used to communicate the things you’re doing that are producing results which others might not be as hip to. If you were selling an online course on Facebook ads, you could do something like this…

  • What Everybody Ought To Know About Facebook's New Ad Changes
  • What Everybody Ought To Know About Paid Advertising
  • What Everybody Ought To Know About Why Ad Costs Are Rising

#5: How To…

For us knowledge commerce entrepreneurs who sell information online, this may be the most common of all headlines. Whether it’s in an email subject line, Facebook ad, or atop a marketers sales letter, “how to” has proven to work.

Your prospects want to know how to do certain things. They want to know how to get more of what they want, and less of what they don’t want. That universal in all markets.

Let’s imagine you were a coach who helped service-based businesses get new clients…

  • How To Get More Clients
  • How To Create An Automated Lead Generation Funnel
  • How To Attract Your Ideal Client

In our landscape where every prospect is bombarded by daily emails and marketing message, never forget that being simple is sometimes the smartest strategy. If you look at the headlines above they’re all quite direct, easy to understand, and tells the reader exactly what to expect.

#6: Claim Your [Offer]

This formula can be tweaked however you want, but the main principle here is to clearly state your offer in the headline. These types of headlines work great for retargeting ads or for customers who already know who you are, what you do, and just want to know “the deal”.

So lead with that. Here are a few different examples and tweaks on this concept…

  • Claim Your Free 14-Day Kajabi Trial!
  • The Executive Coaching Course For Business Renegades Is Now Open!
  • $3,000 of Bonuses With This 60-Day Money Back Guarantee!

See how we’re just clearly and simply stating the core of the deal in the headline? Then the following copy could continue to outline what’s included and invite them to purchase. 

#7: The Testimonial Headline

By taking a testimonial and crafting a headline out of it, you’re able to effectively do two things at once. You communicate social proof and a big benefit.

If a customer has emailed you a testimonial, use it if it works. If it doesn’t, feel free to reword it and email the customer and ask if you can use it with the slight modification. You can let them know how proud you are of the result they were able to produce and that you think it’d really help others.

Most of the time they’ll be completely happy to help.

Here are a few examples of how a yoga instructor could use this kind of headline:

  • “Yoga Gave Me My Life Back...All Thanks To Your Course!”
  • “I Feel Young Again! Thank You Yoga!”
  • “More Energy Than When I Was 21!”

#8: Get Rid Of…

This headline formula inserts a pressing problem right up top. We all react to problems and pains. Just like flashing police lights get our attention, so too does the mention of any kind of problem we’re dealing with.

Lead with whatever is either the biggest problem or the most common obstacle.

If you sold a course on becoming more productive, you could use the following… 

  • Get Rid Of Procrastination Once And For All
  • Get Rid Of Digital Distractions Without Becoming A Caveman
  • Get Rid Of Up And Down Productivity 

#9: Introducing…

This type of headline is an announcement or news based headline. You’re sharing something that’s just happened, going to happen or something which is important for your readers to know.

It can be used in a variety of ways. Here’s an example if you were a coach who helped accountants build their practices...

  • Introducing The First Online Course For Struggling Freelance Accountants
  • Announcing A New Way To Find Leads For Accountants
  • At Last, New Clients Finding You Instead Of You Chasing Them

The Role Of A Headline

We discussed earlier in this article that one of the main goals of a headline is to stop the reader. The other main goal, and really the point of the whole headline, is to get the reader to read the very next sentence. Then that sentence moves them to the next, and so on.

When you approach writing your headlines with this in mind and use the 9 formulas below, you’ll be well on your way to getting more prospects to read your message, buy your digital products, and turn into lifetime customers!

  1. The Secrets Of…
  2. Get [Result] Without [Struggle]
  3. Who Else Wants…
  4. What Everybody Ought To Know About…
  5. How To…
  6. Claim Your [Offer]
  7. The Testimonial Headline
  8. Get Rid Of…
  9. Introducing...

Power Words In Headlines

Uplevel your writing with compelling power words. Watch our video to learn more and help your copy stand out:

Use Kajabi to Turn Your Knowledge And Content Into Products You Can Sell

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With Kajabi, you can sell your expertise online. You’ll get an online course builder, coaching platform, podcast tool, and membership management software. Plus, we pair it with sales and marketing tools like a website and email marketing platform and insightful analytics. All for one low cost.

Fully explore what Kajabi has to offer and start building your business during a free trial. Start your free 14-day trial of Kajabi today!

Still researching? Check out Kajabi’s free downloadable ebook guides on launching and growing a knowledge commerce online business!

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