Digital marketingNovember 13, 2018

How to write headlines that actually work!

Nikita Roy

The primary purpose of any piece of writing – be it a blog, article, newsletter, anything – is to get it read. The primary objective of a headline, similarly, is to entice you into reading the next line. And the next one…till the end of the piece.

Get this – On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the power of a headline, and why it determines the effectiveness of the entire content.

David Ogilvy, the advertising legend knew the power of headlines, and how the headline determined whether the rest of the ad would get read. He rewrote this famous headline for an automobile advertisement a whopping 104 times: At 60 miles an hour, the only thing you hear in the new Rolls Royce is the ticking of the dashboard clock …

The job of a headline is to clearly communicate the benefit you’ll deliver to the reader. Your reader should know why he should spend time reading your content piece. The key, therefore, is to get your reader read one sentence at a time, taking him down the road to your article, compelling him to read the next line.

There is also something called the 50/50 rule of headlines. Most copywriting gurus advise that you spend half the time you spend on your entire content on writing the headline. This is great advice, to be honest.

Because, again, if you come up with a kickass headline first, it becomes a lot easier for you to frame the flow for the content body. Also, by writing a great headline, you’ve already done half your job – to get the reader interested in reading the first line.

It only makes sense, then, to downright obsess over the headline for an ultra-important piece of content that you are planning to push.

So how do write enticing headlines? How do you get your very first line read? What kind of headlines actually create a magnet for your reader?

There are Four U’s involved in writing a great headline, according to copywriting experts at American Writers & Artists:

USEFUL: The headline should be of some use to the reader.

URGENCY: It should provide the reader with a sense of urgency.

UNIQUE: The headline should convey a unique idea or motive.

ULTRA-SPECIFIC: And should be very specific in its communication.

For a tempting piece of a headline, ask yourself questions like “ Does my headline offer the reader a reward for reading?”

“Can I add something else to my headline to make it more intriguing?”

“Does my headline trigger a strong emotion in the reader’s head or heart?”

You get the picture.

Now, there are different categories of headlines, as enlisted in The Copywriter’s Handbook by Bob Bly,  that can help you achieve the answers to these questions. Let’s have a look at them:

Direct Headlines

The no beating around the bush, no attempt at slyness category, Direct headlines straightaway delve right into the matter or the selling proposition.

Think “Social Media Marketing – Expectations vs Reality!”

Indirect Headlines

A more implied way of approaching headlines, indirect headlines often make use of wordplay and puns to attract the reader’s attention and raise some sort of curiosity that is later revealed in the body. It uses curiosity to raise a question in the reader’s mind, which the body copy answers.

Taking the example from Bly “ Fresh Bait Works Best” has nothing to do with fishing because it’s actually about writing timely content that acts as link bait.

News Headlines

As simple as it sounds, any headline that announces some kind of news. Think product announcements, interview content etc. Something like “My interview with Dwayne Johnson”.


The ubiquitous, omnipresent headline. Something that always works. The reason this is the most often used category of a headline (even the headline of this blog :P)

According to Bly,  “Many advertising writers claim if you begin with the words how to, you can’t write a bad headline.” For example…”How to write headlines that actually work!”

Question Headlines

A question headline asks an interesting or intriguing question to the reader and then reveals the answer in the body. These types of headlines must not simply be questions…they should be questions that the reader wants the answers to.

Questions that empathize with the reader and understand the reader’s mind. Think “ Did you know these 10 benefits of eating almonds?”

Command Headlines

Tells the reader to take some action. The first word of the headline should generally be a strong action verb. Like “Visit Dreamscape Media for all your digital strategy solutions!”

Reason Why Headlines

Another common candidate in the blogging ecosystem, the reason why is basically a list of features, tips, or advice in your body which you assimilate into your headline. Something that goes like “5 Worst Blogging Practices To Avoid


The headline is the first impression you make on a prospective reader.  A headline should do more than just grab attention. A great headline is a lure for your reader to read your content.

A great headline is the start line in the blogging race. Most often that not, a kickass headline makes all the difference between a good and a great blogger.

Looking for content and copywriting solutions? Dreamscape is here to help! Get in touch with us here.


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