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Are Your Headlines Bad? Find out

Recently updated on February 1st, 2021 at 05:20 pm

There’s no getting around it – if you’re in business you have to write headlines (or have them written) for emails, printed material, landing pages, adword ads, and oh, just about anything else that you send out from your business. Why are headlines so important? “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”1 So, I’ve been on a quest to improve my headline writing skills and here is some of what I’ve learned. I’m counting on you to post and let me know if my headline skills have, or have not, improved.

1. Warning Sign: Does not compel the reader to read more

If the reader can read your headline and has a response such as, “yeah, so what? You need to rewrite. Dave Garfield2 calls this the “So what? Who Cares?” Test.

Previous Title I used for a blog article

Successful Marketing in 2009

Better Title

Secrets for Successful Marketing in 2009

2. Warning Sign: Does not tell the reader what benefit there is for them

If your headline does not let your reader know which needs, interests, or wants of theirs, is going to be fulfilled reconsider your copy.

Previous Blog article title

Learning Styles in the Workplace: Why You Should Care

Better Title

How Understanding Learning Styles will save your Company Time & Money

3. Warning Sign: Low on the curiosity scale

Curiosity may have killed the cat but it’s good for headlines.

Not so great example:

We have great low prices

Better example:

How to notch up your printing without breaking the bank

4. Warning Sign: TOO MANY CAPS or too many !!!!!

ALL CAPS SAYS TO THE READER YOU’RE AFRAID THAT YOUR COPY ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH SO YOU HAVE TO SHOUT TO GET THEIR ATTENTION. Really IRRITATING . And using too many        exclamation marks plain and simple – does not work. Your title either is or is not exciting. If it isn’t, no number of exclamation marks is going to help. It will still be boring!!!!!!!!!!!!
No examples needed on this.

5. Warning Sign: Written from the companies viewpoint

You need to come in where your customers are – not where you are. “Enter the conversation already going on in the customer’s mind.”2

Fictitious Title example:

Next Day Flyers – Printing Done Fast

Better example:

Next Day Flyers – Quick Relief for your Printing Woes

So, were my “Better” titles really better? After reading this article are there any headlines you’ve written in the past that you’d now write differently? Please share.



  1. CopyBlogger: How to Write Magnetic Headlines (great series of articles)
  2. Book: Advertising Headlines that Make You Rich by David Garfinkel (2006, Morgan James)
  3. They Laughed When I Said There Was a Secret to Writing Good Headlines by John McMahon

4 thoughts on “Are Your Headlines Bad? Find out

  1. Take a tip from Yahoo!. Their Featured news offers headlines you can’t help but click. Whenever I go to their homepage to access my email I get sucked into a vortex of pop news for 30 or 40 minutes… who doesn’t want to learn how to get more restful sleep at night or find out which fast food is actually good for you? More often than not, the article is less interesting than the headline. Also, has a pretty interesting cheat sheet.

  2. Great examples! This was one of my favorite articles.

    Good point Sarah… I end up reading all of Yahoo’s articles and she’s right. The title grabs you more than the article itself.
    I always want to know what foods in my refrigerator are going to secretly kill me in my sleep and how to prevent cancer with three household items… If you log on right now, you’ll find out what became of the Cosby Show kids… I’ve been DYING to find out.

  3. AOL’s home page does pretty good too – I often find myself clicking on news articles I am not remotely interested in but the title is just too good to pass up…

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