How to Write Headlines that Sell

3 Qualities of Headlines that Sell – Do Your Headlines Have Them?

Paul Gallipeau Copywriting 2 Comments

Your headlines are the most important part of your advertisements because they determine if people keep reading your ad or not. Here are three qualities of headlines that sell:

1. Your headlines should create a sense of urgency.

What will your audience lose if they do not read the rest of your content? An example of an urgent headline is “Save up to $100 per Month on Your Accounting Software.” This creates a sense of urgency because your reader could be losing money.

2. Your headline should make an offer that stands out from your competition.

Use your headlines to test one of your competitive advantages. It doesn’t have to be a unique offer if you’re the only one using it in a headline. For example, most SaaS companies offer a free trial. Some need a credit card and some do not. Your headline can stand out by using an offer like this: “Reduce Your Accounting Software Costs. Get Your Free Trial, No Credit Card Required Upfront!”

3. Your headlines should be specific and concise.

The previous headline example might stand out, but it is neither specific nor concise. “Save up to $100 on Accounting Software. Free 30-Day Trial, No Credit Card Required!” is a huge improvement because we reduced the length by 9 characters and added three specific offers.

“A change of headline can make a difference of ten to one in sales. I never write fewer than sixteen headlines for a single advertisement, and I observe certain guides in writing them”David Ogilvy in Confessions of an Advertising Man

Remember that only some people will have interest in your product. The purpose of your headline is to pick out those people and sell them on reading the rest of your copy. Use words and offers that will appeal specifically to these people. Don’t write your headlines or ad copy for anyone else. Finally, always test yours headlines!

What are the best headlines that you have seen? What is the best advice you’ve received on writing headlines?

Below is a video I made discussing the process of creating a competitive advantage to use for your headlines.

Comments 2

  1. Great post! Is there a character limit for headlines? I want to make sure that my headlines aren’t too long for the serps.

    1. Post

      Hi David, thanks for your comment! If you’re using WordPress you can install the Yoast SEO plugin for guidance on your headline length for the SERPs and for Facebook/Twitter too. Here’s a link:

      There isn’t a strict character limit because the amount of characters shown is based on a pixel width, not a character quantity. For example, if you just filled your title tag with i’s like “iiiiiiiii” then you would be able to squeeze in way more characters than a headline like “How to Do Stuff in 3 Easy Steps.” Hope that helps!

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