Writing headlines that don’t sell — but get much higher conversions


Here’s a paradox of successful headlines: the less they sell, the more they can sell.

Our most recent web clinic looked at research and ideas that support a vital, yet often overlooked, principle: The objective of your headline is not to sell, but to connect with your reader.

That split-second connection only has to compel readers to continue — not necessarily to buy right away. You want them to read the next line (subhead), then the next one (first paragraph), and then start to engage them with your offer.

This idea isn’t new. It’s just extremely easy to forget. Tight deadlines, heavy pressure to increase ROI, a propensity for sticking with what’s worked in the past … there are dozens of reasons why we approach headline writing from the wrong angle.

8-27-08-clinic-screenshot.pngOften, we either try to do too much and follow the old “sell the sizzle” formulas, or contort our copy to placate search engines and spam filters and wind up with drab, keyword-laden Mad Libs.

There are better ways.

In the clinic, Optimizing Your Headlines: How changing a few words can help (or hurt) conversion, we explored three key qualities of winning headlines, looked at recent tests and examples, and broke down two methods you can use to test and optimize your own headlines.

That clinic is now available online in three formats for your convenience:

We also polled the audience during the session. Thanks to the positive feedback and the record-breaking attendance of the clinic, we’ll be conducting a follow-up webinar this Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 4:00 p.m. ET, that will include a live optimization session with audience-submitted headlines and new test results.

Secure your spot for Optimizing Headlines Pt. II today, as our free clinics are capped at 1,000 attendees.

(Use the comments field to post your questions and/or headlines you’d like to have our optimization team address.)

P.S. If you’re looking for more in-depth information about copywriting, including myriad tips and techniques for headlines, you won’t find a better resource online than Copyblogger.com.

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  1. Julie Power says

    Hunter, great post and some great thoughts. have followed up on our blog.



  2. Hunter Boyle says

    Thanks, Julie. It’s great to hear from you — especially on this topic. Dropped a reply on your own excellent blog.

    Backstory for other folks: Julie Power is a terrific writer and a headline machine. We worked at PBP together some years back, where I used some of the headline methods I spoke about in the clinic. She now writes my former newsletter/blog (Internet Marketing Report). I’m sure that both are doing better than ever in her very capable hands. I’d highly recommend checking out and bookmarking the eIMR blog.

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