It’s a common misconception that headlines must necessarily contain clever puns or witty double entendres. In fact, these tactics are often lost on the intended audience, and may come across as self-indulgence on the part of the copywriter more than any real marketing acumen.

When writing a headline, the main objective is to draw the reader closer, into the loving embrace of your winning ad copy. Using copy that is convoluted will have the unwanted effect of creating distance between your product or service and the audience.

Headline writing is a bit of an art and, in this article, I’ll provide some guidance on how to get it just right and turn that lead into a conversion.

Keep it clear and concise

Ideally, your headline should consist of no more than five words, and should clearly state your value proposition.

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The headline needs to be completely unambiguous without including unnecessary details. You want to hook your reader and then elaborate in the introductory line or paragraph.

Make it interesting and appealing

You have a split second in which to grab the reader’s attention: make it count! Put genuine effort into writing your headline copy and do a few different versions. Don’t rush it.

You need to make it clear from the get-go that your ad is will solve the reader’s problem, whatever it is. A good way to accomplish this is through making your headline a question.

For example, if you’re selling retirement packages or perhaps investment plans, a possible headline could be: Where would you like to retire?

Do you see how that works? You are involving the reader, making them an active participant and not just a passive receiver of your message.

Make it emotional

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Humans are inherently emotional beings, and ad copy needs to speak to that fact.

One brand that has always gotten this right, in my opinion, is Coca Cola. With their latest ad campaign, they use the line “Enjoy the feeling” to get across the experience one has when drinking a Coke. It’s so simple, and yet so powerful. Three words, no unnecessary embellishments, and it gets the message across beautifully.

When writing a headline, spend some time reflecting on how reading it makes you feel. Happy? Excited? Perhaps even angry or agitated. As long as it elicits some sort of emotional response, you’re on the right track.

Include pricing and urgency to promote a deal

This strategy works especially well for display ads as well as email marketing. Consumers like knowing right away whether they can afford a product or service, which is why including a price is likely to resonate with your

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intended audience.

You can also include lines such as For one day only or Get this deal while stocks last to highlight the fact that the deal or promotion has a finite lifespan and it’s therefore in the reader’s best interest to act right away.

Need a headline that ticks all the boxes? Let’s make it happen! Just head on over to my Contact page or, better yet, send me an email at and let’s tell your story and make some sales!

Posted by Charl Mijnhardt

Charl Mijnhardt is an established freelance writer with a special interest in wellness and mental health. He is also an experienced technical writer with many years' experience writing for the security industry. He currently lives in South Africa with his wife, Nastasia, and his cat, Gizmo. Hire him to write engaging copy for your website, blog, e-book, newsletter or marketing communications.

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