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7 headline formulas that drive conversions

Headlines are essential for getting your audience’s attention and driving conversions. Without an enticing headline they’re unlikely to notice you. And a staggering 80% of people will only read your headline.

Many copywriters advise that you should spend up to 80% of your time researching what you’re going to write and coming up with a good headline. But if you haven’t the time to do that, here are seven headline formulas that really grab the reader’s attention and increase conversion rates.

Headline formula #1 – state the benefits

This kind of headline answers that crucial ‘What’s in it for me?’ question that every reader will ask before they read on. In tests, benefit orientated headlines consistently prove more successful than any other type. So if you’re ever in doubt, go for this formula. It focuses your mind wonderfully on what the reader needs to hear in your body copy too.

Headline formula #2 – ask a question

A question is irresistible. The reader will answer it in their head before they can stop themselves. So what you’ve got then is instant engagement. And once a reader is involved, the chances of their reading your body copy are much higher. All you need to do is frame either the problem they have, or the benefit as a question. That’s because if you make the question appeal to their self interest they can’t help but read on.

Headline formula #3 – announce the news

The trick with this one is to state your benefit as a news headline e.g. ‘Now you can have perfect abs in only 2 minutes a day – with the Abmaster’. The product doesn’t have to be new in order to merit this treatment, it only has to be new to the reader. But framing it as an announcement gives the headline more credibility with the reader.

Headline formula #4 – use a testimonial

Word of mouth is a very powerful way to convince people that a product or service is of a high quality. It also gets around their fear of making a mistake. Satisfied customers are often happy to have you draft a testimonial for them, and then approve it. So next time you’re doing that, make sure it’s worded in a way that will stand up as a headline at the top of your webpage. ‘This worked for me so it can work for you’ or ‘This is a high quality service/product’ type ones often work best.

Headline formula #5 –use a ‘how to’

Frame the benefit as a ‘how to’. Not the features, the benefit. For a hair tong product for instance ‘How to get luxuriant curls at home’ is okay, but not as good as ‘How to look a million dollars without setting foot inside a salon’. People are always on the lookout for ways to make their lives better, or to save money. Which brings me to the next one…

Headline formula #6 – supply useful information

People are drowning in information. Information on its own is not of high value to them. But what they do need is tips and tricks to make their lives easier. So you need to make information useful by framing it in a way that’s instantly digestible and useful. A classic headline in this category would be ‘5 ways to make more money this month’. Using numbers i.e. a set number of tips or secrets is a very good way to make this tactic more appealing because it forces you to write in digestible chunks and is a proven way to attract attention.

Headlline formula #7 – use a powerful combination of triggers

This is really a series of formulas in one. For instance, you can pair the undesired situation or threat with a benefit to get something like ‘Are you embarrassed by sudden hot flushes? Make them go away forever’. Or pair a new product with an authority figure endorsement to get something like ‘The anti-blackhead treatment that beauty therapists swear by’. Or simply pair the benefit with a set time period, for instance ‘Get into your ‘skinny’ jeans in just 2 weeks’.


There are hundreds of headline formulas. If none of them are working for you, let Oxygen help you out by writing or editing your copy. Call us today on 0845 2606 255 or email us at enquries@oxygenagency.co.uk


Steve Lodge :Steve trained as a NCTJ journalist and is an experienced copywriter. He has over 15 years in agency, and started Oxygen in 2002.

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