Everything starts with the headline.
If you want more people to click-through to your landing pages and make it past the opening screen, you need a headline that draws them in.
In this guide, we’ll break down 11 wildly profitable methods you can use to write landing page headlines that drive more clicks, calls, signups, and purchases.
Let’s get started.
Why Landing Page Headlines Are So Important
Everyone knows headlines are important, but you might not realize just how much weight they carry on your landing page.
How much weight a heading carries
Headlines play a large role in two critical objectives of a landing page:
- Getting people to the page in the first place
- Getting people to read or otherwise engage with the page
When a user searches for information on Google, the only content they see is the headline of your page and a brief description.
When a user sees an ad or organic share on social media, the two main things they will see are the headline and header image.
Anywhere else we look online, we see the same single thing doing the heavy lifting in attracting users to a landing page.
It’s the headline.
Your landing page’s headline is one of the most critical components in getting people to the page.
And once they get there, the headline is equally as important.
80% of people never make it past the headline of a page.
Let that sink in for a second.
This means if ten people wind up on your page, only two of them will actually read what you have to say… on average.
The way you beat that average is to get the reader to engage, and that process starts with a powerful, convincing headline that gets them to invest time and energy into reading the page.
If you don’t get the reader to engage with your page, nothing else you do on the page matters.
That’s why headlines are a BIG deal. That’s why something as simple as a headline change can increase a page’s conversion rate by 10%.
With that in mind, let’s look at the 4 things your landing page headline should be doing.
4 Things Your Landing Page Headline Needs To Do
Here’s what your headline should be doing. We’ll focus on HOW it accomplishes these objectives in the next section.
1. Grab Your Audience’s Attention
There’s a lot of information out there.
Every Google SERP displays 10 results. Scroll through your newsfeed and social feeds and you’ll find countless pieces of content, all vying for attention and traffic. Your headline needs to cut through the noise to grab your audience’s attention.
What your headline says to your visitors
If it doesn’t do that, your content is like the proverbial tree in the forest. It may as well not exist.
2. Preview The Value They’ll Receive From The Page
In addition to grabbing attention, you also need to make sure that what you communicate in the headline matches the value you’ll be providing on the page.
You want to use the most interesting angle, but you need the specifics you communicate in the headline to fully match the content of the page.
Bait and switch only “works” if you are trying to defraud advertisers.
If it’s immediately obvious that the true value of the page doesn’t support or match the headline, your readers will leave quickly, and in some cases, that’s even worse than if they had never clicked at all.
3. Get Them To Engage With The Page
While your headline is only one line, it makes a huge difference in conversion rates because it sets the tone for the page.
It’s not enough just to grab your reader’s attention. A powerful headline teases the content inside, and motivates readers to keep going to the next line.
And the next.
And the next.
If you offer a really compelling reason to read via the headline, readers will give your page content more of a chance to capture them fully and take them through the rest of the page.
4. (Optional) Help The Page Rank Better In SERPs
This is only important if you are trying to rank your page in search, but if you are, and if you are hoping to rank for a specific keyphrase, your headline can play a fairly sizable role in your ranking success.
I always recommend including your target keyphrase in the headline, ideally in its exact-match form.
So for example, if you wanted to rank for the phrase “best PPC agency”, the headline you use might be something like “10 Reasons Linear Is The Best PPC Agency”.
The tricky part here is including this while also accomplishing the other three objectives. Sometimes, the keyphrase might not play nice with the angle you are trying to take in the headline, so figuring out a way to incorporate both can be something of an art.
Now that we understand WHAT we are trying to do with the headline, let’s look at HOW we do it.
11 Ways To Write Wildly Profitable Landing Page Headlines
As you might have guessed from the headline, there’s more than one way to meet the objectives we just discussed.
In fact… there are 11 ways. In some cases, you will be able to use several of these and can just choose your favorite. In other cases, only one will make sense for your page.
1. Write A Sharp Headline
A headline should never beat around the bush. You only have a very limited window of time to communicate information to your audience. This isn’t the time for evocative imagery and metaphorical masterpieces. You need to get down to the point — and fast.
People have short attention spans online. You have 15 seconds to say what you need to say. Max. Your headline is your elevator pitch, so be clear and specific. Create a message so clear that visitors know exactly you are offering them when they click on your page.
Let’s take a look at the landing page for Shopify Academy:
Shopify’s headline tells you what they’ll help you do.
Three words, and a crystal clear message. It’s simple, straightforward, and it works. When a business owner lands on that page, they instantly know that Shopify Academy will help them grow their business. And more importantly, they want to find out exactly how Shopify Academy can make it happen.
The same goes for this landing page for a HubSpot eBook download:
Because you only want to work with all-stars
Now, HubSpot could have said, “How to Attract and Retain High-Performing Marketing Employees”. It has the same meaning, but it takes far longer to digest. In that time, the reader could easily lose interest and bounce off the page.
However, with this headline, the reader immediately understands the content that they’ll get in the eBook is going to be about hiring and training high-performing marketing employees. There’s no fluff and no overly complex language. Just a straightforward headline that drives people to take action.
2. Make A Promise To Your Reader
One way to write wildly profitable headlines is to make a promise to your audience. A promise is a powerful thing. It’s your virtual handshake that your content presents a benefit to your audience, or solves your audience’s problem.
If you can make a promise in your headline, do it. This is a strong, reliable and honest way to get more traffic to your post that converts.
Take a look at this page from Wishpond:
Powerful words like, well, powerful and boost
The content of the page is clear: it promises the reader 100 words to boost their brand, and 75 words to avoid. When a person clicks on it, they know exactly what to expect. If the content delivers, they’re more likely to reach the next goal of the customer journey — whether it’s signing up for a newsletter, contacting the business for more information or buying the product.
The same goes for these headlines:
- The “Holy Sh*t That’s Too Many” Megalist Of 102 Copywriting Tips
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- 50 Beautiful Website Templates To Captivate Your Audience
But it’s not enough to just make a promise. Once you make a promise, you have to deliver on that promise with the content inside. A broken promise is a surefire way to lose your audience’s trust, and ensure they never come back. Ever.
3. Focus On One Key Benefit
Saying one thing well is much more important than saying ALL the things. You may have 20 benefits you can offer a reader. But if you try to cram all of them into one headline, you’ll say nothing at all — and lose your audience. At the same time, if you’re hell-bent on trying to convert your audience from the very start, your bounce rate will most likely shoot through the roof.
When you’re writing landing page headlines, it pays to remember that:
- You have a limited window to hook people in to your post.
- Readers are instantly turned off if we feel like someone is selling to us.
In other words, your reader wants to know how your product, service or content is going to benefit them. And they want to know it fast.
Focus on one key benefit, then spend a large portion of your content driving that point home. This should be something that answers the main problem your target audience is having, and instantly resonates with them. Then, once they’ve read your content, you can seal the deal with a call to action.
Here’s a great example from the landing page of my eBook for freelance writing:
The key benefit is high profit and little time spent
The headline is laser-focused on one key benefit: it helps freelancers make bank. Of course, there are many more benefits that are included inside the eBook, but the biggest goal for any freelancer is money.
By tapping into this problem and presenting a solution, this headline creates an irresistible hook that draws its target audience in and leaves them wanting more.
4. Use Repetition In Your Headline
Our brains look for patterns in everything. A powerful rhyme is memorable and can increase the credibility of your message.
In fact, there have been numerous studies (like this one from Lafeyette College) showing that subjects found a phrase more believable if it rhymed, even if there was no truth to the phrase.
You read that right: even if there was no truth.
The reason? When a reader spots a rhyme, they believe it’s more truthful because it sounds more fluent and flows better. A complete rhyme or pattern also makes us happy because our brains are trained to identify patterns, and experience pleasure when finding one.
In the old days, this instinct to find patterns helped us stay alive. Today, we can tap into this to create powerful landing page headlines that stick in our reader’s mind.
Here’s a classic rhyming headline from Entrepreneur that taps into an old adage and sticks in the reader’s mind:
Super catchy, right?
But your headline doesn’t have to rhyme to be effective. Just the simple act of repetition makes your headline more memorable and enticing to your audience. This example from UpWork is incredibly catchy because it repeats a sentence structure twice to convey its product benefits:
Dat double-demand do
The same thing applies for Canva’s landing page headline:
When you use any kind of pattern, your reader’s brain instantly favors it. Here are some other patterns to play around with in your headlines:
- Mimic your sentence structure: Do [Action], Win [Benefit]
- Use alliteration: How To Master Your Marketing And Skyrocket Sales
- Repeat the same word: Get [X] And Get Results
5. Create A Curiosity Hook
One of the best ways to grab your audience’s attention?
Pique their curiosity.
The curiosity hook is a powerful thing. It’s why clickbait works. Even if something seems too good to be true, people still click it. Because what if there’s the off chance it IS true?
Before we go any further, disclaimer alert: this isn’t saying that you have to go full click-bait on your landing page headline. In fact, you shouldn’t. That’s the perfect recipe for broken trust. But there is a valuable lesson to be learned from clickbait: when people are curious, they’ll click.
For example, let’s take a look at this blog post from Buffer:
Don’t you wanna learn more?
The heading naturally sparks a reader’s curiosity by presenting an experiment and teasing the outcome. It’s attention-grabbing for sure. But more importantly, after reading the headline, your next question is “what happened?” It invites you to read more. It’s a natural formula for high clickthrough rates on social media and SERPs.
The same goes for a headline that makes your audience sit up a little bit straighter, re-read your headline, and wonder “is this possible?”. Never underestimate the power of making people dream of the possibilities — that’s a really powerful thing.
Similarly, look at this blog post headline:
Learn how to actually make money writing.
Every freelancer who writes on UpWork knows it’s hard to write for more than pennies. That’s why this headline works. You want to click on it and read it. Because what if there’s even a single nugget of wisdom in there? You could take that wisdom and use it to make more money on Upwork.
That’s the very real power of the curiosity hook. But remember, there’s a very fine line between using the curiosity hook for good and for evil. Don’t overextend too much. It might work the first time or the second time, but ultimately you’ll end up disappointing your audience. With enough disappointment, they’ll give up on your content altogether.
6. Make A Reference To Someone People Already Know
This is the closest method to ‘hacking’ your landing page headline as you can get. When you include the name of a brand or celebrity in your headline, more often than not you’ll get great results.
It immediately makes the link between your content and something the reader already knows. When they recognize something in your headline, they’re more likely to view your content favorably and keep reading. Just take a look at this one from Neil Patel:
If you have a name, use it
In this case, simply by mentioning Apple’s marketing, readers are more likely to click on the post because it’s something they’re already familiar with. It feels like a cheat, but it’s effective if you want to get results. You can do the same by referencing Netflix’s HR strategy, Facebook’s growth, Terry Crews’ training regime, and so on.
Here’s another example that name drops HubSpot:
Who doesn’t know HubSpot?
Just by leveraging the HubSpot brand to drive attention, the author landed more than $100k in business from this one article.
But this method isn’t just limited to cultural references. When you reference a topic that everyone’s talking about, you instantly grab your audience’s attention. They’re already interested in the topic, and it’s top of mind. Game, set, match. It makes your headline’s job of getting clicks and converting them a whole lot easier.
How does this play out?
Simple. Remember the Mad Men era? Almost every single marketing agency at the time jumped on the opportunity to create timely and relevant content around that show. Just a quick Google search proves just how many posts referenced Don Draper and Mad Men:
Because Mad Men
Right now, the trending topic is Star Wars. Last year, it was Game of Thrones before that. Soon, it will be the Olympics. The great thing is that trending topics are a smash hit for SEO AND social media — making it like the landing page headline jackpot for conversions and CTR.
While newsjacking is a dangerous game to play, there’s no harm in dropping a reference in your headline to a show that everyone’s talking about (Google Trends is particularly helpful for this). The same applies for:
- Seasonal events like Christmas and New Years (The complete guide to operating your business in the New Year)
- Sporting events like the Olympics and the Superbowl (Why [campaign name] is the best marketing campaign from the 2020 Olympics)
- Other cultural events such as Coachella, Thanksgiving and Black Friday (X tips that will help you double your Black Friday sales)
7. Feature Numbers And Statistics
Human beings love numbers. Buzzfeed has insane clickthrough rates for many reasons, but one of the biggest factors in their success is their ability to use numbers like it’s nobody’s business. We want to fight uncertainty with proof — and proof often comes in the form of statistics or concrete numbers.
- 15 ways to improve your email marketing
- Get 5x more ROI with targeted PPC campaigns
- Join up to 50,000 other newsletter subscribers
Headlines that feature numbers work precisely because they’re specific. They convey a tangible value to a product or service. The numbers don’t lie. Quantify the benefit of your content whenever possible. Your audience will thank you with more clicks and conversions. In fact, a study by Conductor revealed that 36% of readers prefer headlines with numbers.
Take a look at this landing page for Salesforce:
Peep that #1
Salesforce highlights that they’re the world’s #1 CRM platform, which instantly adds credibility in the eyes of the reader. The words “leading”, “best” and “top” essentially mean the same thing, but they don’t pack the same kind of punch as a number ranking.
The same goes for Instapage’s landing page, where they offer a concrete percentage increase in conversions for ad spend:
400% is pretty great
This tells the reader the benefit they’re going to get in . Although they’ve cleverly written “up to 400% more conversions”, your brain instantly sees “400% more conversions”. Game over. You’re hooked.
8. Optimize Your Landing Page For SEO
Search engines are an important source of traffic. If someone sees your content at the top of their Google search, they’re much more likely to click. In fact, 33% of all clicks go to the top organic result on Google, and 75% of clicks go to the websites on the first page of SERPs.
Any business hoping to write profitable landing page headlines needs to account for search engines.
While not all of your headlines need to be optimized for SEO (those you’re purely using across social media, for example), a large portion of them should. And if you want your content to rank on Google, your headline should include the keywords you’re hoping to rank for, word for word.
Let’s take the keyword “email marketing”. If you’re building a product landing page for an email marketing platform, the keyword should ideally be located in landing page heading like Campaign Monitor’s:
SEO friendly, indeed.
Likewise, if you’re writing a blog post and hoping to rank for “free email marketing tools”, include the exact match keyword in your heading like SproutSocial:
Make your headline super relevant
Also, when writing your headline, think about the search keyword and the search intent behind that keyword. Then match that promise to the search query.
For example, if your keyword is “email marketing tips”, your audience is probably looking for ways to increase their open rate. By crafting a headline like “10 incredibly easy email marketing tips to boost your open rate by X%”, you’ve incorporated the keyword and answered the problem the reader is trying to solve.
Writing SEO titles may feel more formulaic. It is, precisely because you have more boxes you need to check. You have to incorporate your target keyword, communicate the content inside your post, deliver a promise or benefit to your readers and stand out from other search results — all in 70 characters or less.
The trick here isn’t to reinvent the wheel. It’s to make sure Google knows what your content is about, and that it answers the question the user is asking. Stick to the tried and tested methods, like these ones below:
- [Keyword] in 2020
- The Complete Guide To [Keyword]
- How to Use [Keyword] To Get [Result]
And while we’re at it, here are some more tips for writing SEO-friendly landing page headlines:
- Lead with the topic keyword whenever possible. Include it as close to the beginning of your headline as possible. If it doesn’t fit naturally, write it as a kicker. For example: Email marketing: 10 tools to save you time and money.
- Don’t forget about your meta-title (and keep it under 70 characters). A powerful landing page headline and a powerful meta-title go hand in hand to increase your clickthrough rate on SERPs.
- Only pick one keyword. Your headline needs to be short and succinct. Keyword stuffing will only hurt your content and cause your clickthrough rates to drop.
9. Incorporate Power Words And Phrases
Never underestimate the power of a single word.
Power words are…well, they’re powerful. Also known as trigger words, these are hard-hitting words influence your reader and inspire them to take action.
These words trigger a primal response that compels the reader to act by appealing to any number of emotions, such as FOMO, fear, aspiration, greed and excitement, among others. They’re incredibly effective in landing page headlines because they get across a point effectively and succinctly. In other words, they’re memorable as heck.
All you need is for one word in your headline to strike a chord with your audience, and you’ll see massive lifts to your CTR and conversion rate. Studies have shown time and time again that adding power words into marketing copy can increase conversion rates by 13%. And if there’s any spot you should be using power words to deliver a punch, it’s your headline.
Just take a look at this headline by Mailchimp:
Everyone wants to be a master
In this case, the use of a single word (“master”) triggers feelings of inspiration, excitement, and authority. It’s far more effective than saying “Learn the ways of marketing” or “Develop your marketing skills” because it targets a particular emotion: the desire to be the best. The same goes for words like “Ultimate”, “Complete”, “Proven” and “Wildly Profitable”.
There are tons of power word lists online, from this list of 180 words from Buffer to Sumo’s comprehensive list of 401+ words. Include them in your headline, then A/B test them to see what resonates best with your audience.
Lastly, if you’re using power words, just remember there’s a law of diminishing returns. Stuffing more power words into your headline doesn’t equal a higher clickthrough rate. In fact, it could actually hurt it.
Adding too many power words can:
- Look spammy and the reader trust you less
- Make it seem like you’re trying to manipulate your audience
- Make your reader feel uneasy or anxious
- Evoke TOO much emotion, especially if it’s negative
- Make audiences trust you less.
While Buzzfeed normally get it right with their power words, this article is a prime example of a post that pushes the limits of what’s effective:
That’s a lot of feels
The combination of power words — cringe, flinch and recoil — could turn some readers off because it evokes too many negative emotions. In this case, deleting all the power words except one would have made the headline punchier: “25 “The Office Moments That Make You Want To Cringe And Look Away”.
10. Use Formulas
There’s a reason why there are countless “complete guides” and “how to” posts for all kinds of topics, whether it’s PPC marketing to starting a business. These headlines work.
Contrary to what you might think, the best headlines in the world are actually incredibly similar to one-another. In fact, a Wordstream study of the top 200 best performing ads revealed that 89% could be classified into one of five formulas:
- The testimonial headline: “How I Made My Client $415,305 Profit In 9 Months”
- The cliffhanger: “These X marketing mistakes are costing you valuable money”
- The value proposition: “Master your marketing with the world’s number #1 CRM”
- The listicle: “X Christmas gift ideas that everyone will love”
- “How to” posts: “How to grow your gardening business by 50% using automation”
While your options are virtually limitless for headlines, in most cases the tried-and-tested methods are the most effective at generating click-throughs and conversions.
That’s why when you visit any blog, the headlines generally look the same.
Here’s the blog post feed from Hubspot:
Hubspot’s got it down
Here’s the one from Buffer:
Looking clean, Buffer
And to really drive the point home, here’s one from Slack:
The majority of their headlines can be boiled down to one of a few formulas:
- How to [achieve a goal]
- A complete guide to [platform or skill]
- X tips/formulas/mistakes/steps to achieve [outcome]
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t experiment or try something new. But there’s no need to run your creativity dry every time you’re writing a headline, especially if you’re under the pump. Take a plug and play formula, adapt it for your content, and add in a power word to really make the point hit home.
11. A/B Test Your Headlines
While there are a lot of ways to write wildly profitable headlines, the best way to write a wildly profitable headline is to figure out what works for your audience.
If you’re not familiar with an A/B test, it involves showing one version of something to part of your audience, and another version to the other part. Then you compare the results to see which performed better.
For example, you could show one group of visitors a page with a green CTA button, and one with a blue — then evaluate which one worked based on clickthrough and conversion rates.
And if there’s anything you test, it’s your landing page headline. Let’s say you want to test one of these methods above, but you’re not sure if it will work. The best way to do it is to run an A/B test, change one element, and see which version gets a higher CTR or conversion rate.
For example, Highrise ran a test on their sign-up page to see which headline got better results:
Always be testing
By playing around with a number-based headline and subheading, Highrise saw a 30% increase in clicks, which is crucial for a sign-up page.
L’axelle did the same thing with their product landing page:
Which do you think performed better?
The original headline played on positive benefits for readers, while the test took a more direct approach with action-oriented copy. The second headline resulted in a 38.3% conversion rate — almost double the control page.
Always be testing. Test if…
- ….you have a hunch that one headline will generate more clicks than another.
- …adding or removing a word makes a big difference.
- …one headline gets less clicks but more conversions.
- …you want to see what type of headline performs best on social media, SEO, or any other given channel.
Test one thing at a time, and test for a long enough period to get statistically significant results. Then once you have the results, test again to confirm your results were accurate. Implement the findings. Rinse and repeat.
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful. You have a lot of options to choose from when putting together a landing page headline, but these 11 options are the best place to start.
The headline is just the first step, however, so once you’ve worked out your headline, check out our 47-point landing page checklist to make sure you get the rest of it right as well!