Copywriting 101: How To Nail A Killer Headline

What’s So Important About Copywriting?

Copywriting is an integral part of your marketing process. It is your 24 hour salesperson that works for you rain, hail or shine.

The power of marketing can be seen in the fact that good marketing can sell bad products, but it is difficult to sell a good product with bad marketing. I am in no way advocating you make or sell bad products, it is simply to illustrate a point.

What This Copywriting Series Is All About

This series will focus on copywriting and its principles, which can be applied to salesletters, direct response, landing pages and squeeze pages. But don’t limit yourself to using the advice for just those avenues – start applying it to all your streams of communication to your prospects and watch your profits soar.

So to kick off this Copywriting 101 series we are going to start with arguably the most important aspect of copywriting – the headline. This will be a two part series on headlines. This assumes you have done your market research and you know your market.

So let’s get started.

Why Is The Headline So Important?

You can have the most perfectly executed body copy (all the paragraphs under the headline) in the world, the best product, the most amazing offer and price, but no one will ever know about it if they don’t get past your headline. If your headline doesn’t cut through the clutter, grab the attention of your reader and make them read the introductory paragraph then it has failed.

The goal of a headline.

Your headline should accomplish three things:

  1. Catch the full attention of your intended audience
  2. Suck them into the ad
  3. Entice them to read the opening paragraph

Pay attention to that first point and note the words “intended audience”. If you keep this in mind, this will help you understand that you want to tell your target audience straight away what you have for them, and that it is OK not to appeal to everyone. This will help you get away from writing those cutesy curiosity driven headlines, which are the lowest form of headline.

You see it’s not about getting as many people as possible to read your salescopy. It is about getting as many of your target audience to read your ad. Let’s use an example to illustrate this important point.

Say I am writing copy for a weight loss product and I use a general curiosity headline such as “Learn Special Information Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You” – This type of headline may intrigue readers to read more, but once they find out it is related to weight loss, and if they are not interested, they will probably stop reading.

However, what you have risked doing by not being specific in your headline is missing out on potentially speaking to your target audience, all the people interested in weight loss. If I am interested in weight loss, the previous mentioned headline may not appeal to me, it may a little bit, but it certainly doesn’t come right out and speak to me as someone who is interested in weight loss.

But if I just came straight out and said something like “Discover The Secrets Your Doctor Doesn’t Know That Can Lead to Major Weight Loss.” This headline polarizes people. If you are not interested in weight loss you will probably not read this article and that is OK, because you are not the intended audience for this salesletter. But what I have done is to ensure that when people interested in weight loss are scanning through the headlines and ads that they are exposed to on a daily basis, that I have let them know that there could potentially be something of interest for them in what follows.

If you can speak to your intended audience in your headline and make it specific to them, then you will do better than most people who write boring general headlines.

Take Your Headlines To The Next Level

I previously spoke about good headlines speaking to their intended audience. Some of the most famous headlines combine a knock out punch of shouting to their target audience, putting in a killer hook and then throwing in some curiosity to suck people in. In fact, some of the best headlines and copy are so well written and intriguing that even if you are not the target audience you find yourself reading them.

I find some of John Carlton’s salesletters like this. They are so well crafted and written and the headline is so strong that I find myself drawn to read them. No wonder they absolutely crushed it with their intended audience.

Let’s look at one of John Carlton’s most famous and subsequently ripped off headlines.

Amazing Secret Discovered By One-Legged Golfer Adds 50 Yards To Your Drives, Eliminates Hooks  and Slices… And Can Slash Up To 10 Strokes From Your Game Almost Overnight!

Straight away this is an ad for golfers. I am told of the benefits for my golfing game such as adding to my drive and cutting 10 strokes from my game. I am told that these benefits can happen almost instantly. And there is possibly the most famous hook ever used in a headline – I am told these are the secrets of a one legged golfer! What the! Seriously what struggling golfer in their right mind would not be at least a little interested in this headline?

I don’t play golf, but I find this headline pretty intriguing. And all this is done in under two lines of text. Pretty powerful stuff.

Finding The Hook

I have spoken about this before and discussed how Carlton goes digging for the “hooks” for his ads. You see the people in the thick of it are often so caught up in things or have been involved with things for so long that the “story” is no longer a big deal to them. That is exactly what happened with this ad.

Carlton was interviewing the inventor of the program, trying to find out more about the program and doing research for the copy. The inventor did not even think to mention that the idea for the program came from a one-legged golfer. In his mind that was old news and not a big deal. But this off the cuff comment stopped Carlton dead in his tracks, and as he says when you find yourself going “what!? Hold up, back up and say that again” you know you have found your hook.

Next article, we will talk more about headlines and go through some tried and true formats that you can use for your salescopy.

Click here to read part two of this series.

Yaro Starak



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  • What i do is go to Google and find out what people are searching for and use those Headlines..they work pretty good.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • thats a great idea, I gotta try that out for my niche.

  • You make a good point it’s all how you market your product. I too have trouble with eye grabbing headlines because i’ve found that you need an eye grabbing headline with strong keywords. It’s all about the presentation.

  • Thanks for sharing your views. The title is truly the important part of an article that attracts readers.

  • The headline is always the hardest thing for me. I am not good and writing catchy phrases. I usually have to get help. Thanks for the tips I will have to try them out and see if it works for me.

  • Great post! Thanks for sharing… I definitely agree, titles is the most important it will attract readers if you have a great header… Thanks for sharing…

  • I have learnt a lot about captivating headlines by simply watching other experienced copy writers like Darren Rowse. I do not try to reinvent the wheel, I simply follow the steps of a successful internet marketer and profit big time. Your tips are excellent and I’m glad I read it.

    • Hi Michael

      Well said, it is not about reinventing the wheel.

      Use what has been proven to work and keep track and recycle what has worked previously in your niche or for your business.

      You can learn a lot by studying the great ones!


  • Nice Post! I agree, the headline is truly important – what good is killer copywriting skills if you can’t get your target audience to read what you’re putting out?

    • Hi Jessica

      Exactly, many people drop the ball so to speak by giving little thought to or just throwing something together at the last minute for the title – what a waste!

      If you have invested time to write good copy, you owe it to yourself to invest an equal amount to come up with a killer headline to get people to read it.

  • It’s so true that with good marketing people can sell a bad product. I have figured out through trial and error what works best when it comes to converting sales.

    I am no master by any stretch but I am getting better.

  • Great stuff Leevi, especially when you mention “target audience”. You can’t appeal to everyone, especially if you want your title to be bold and attention grabbing. As long as it appeals to the right people, you’re golden.

  • Practice makes perfect. I find I am getting better with each post. 1 part study 1 part implementation. That Golf headline is highlights it all thou!

  • Headlines are so hard to write. You can come up with many great headlines only to find that it doesn’t convert

    • @sokun that’s why you split test!

      It can be surprising the difference between what appeals to you and what appeals to your market. Viperchill did a pretty good case study on this a little while ago

    • True that is why testing is so important.

      Stay tuned, testing and optimization will finish off this series of copywriting articles.


  • I’m very interested in this series. I own Maria Veloso’s book “Web copy that sells” and I really want to learn and dominate this art…Thanks Leevi. By the way, I can see the hook now for various headlines I read…

    • Hi Andrea
      Yeah Maria’s book is good.

      Stayed tuned for the series then there are another 5 (or maybe even 6)
      articles to come.


  • So true – marketing is everything! Even if a product is amazing, it needs powerful marketing behind it to let the consumers know just *how* amazing it is and why they absolutely have to spend their hard earned money on it. Thanks for the tips, a catchy headline followed by catchy copy can be hard to come by but this makes it a little easier! 😉


  • […] Copywriting 101: How to Nail a Killer Headline — This piece from Entrepreneur’s Journey may have ‘Copywriting 101′ in the title, but headline writing is far from a beginner skill. Some writers never master it! If you’d like to improve your headlines or generate more interest in your content, start here. And when you’re ready for the next step, try Why You Should Tell More Stories at Marketing for Success. […]

  • Damn the headline.. I can never seem to come up with any good ones. I’m glad to see there’s a formula for them and it’s not about being super fancy – just follow what works. 🙂 Thanks so much!

    • Craziest head line I ever got was “your an idiot”..

      I knew it was marketing and didn’t want to open it but I had to. Had to know what they were saying.

      First line of the email was saying how they didn’t think I was an idiot and that they valued me as a subsciber. They just wanted to show how imporant the subject line is to getting your email opened…

      I absoloutly loved it.

      Try this…

      Pay attention to the reactions you do to certain headlines. If they can get you to the point of your fingers fighting to click the mouse to open an email or ead an article, then imagine what its doing to someone that doesn’t have any knowledge of internet marketing.

      Just reword subject lines and headlines to fit your niche… eventually, I feel you be spitting out subject lines like water from a faucet.

      Best of luck

  • Yea I don’t play golf but I must admit that was a very catchy headline…

    A one legged golfer… reminds me of the “single work from home mom who makes hundreds of dollars a day” ads..

    I know whoever was behind those made a nice chunk of money

  • […] a superb article on how to write headlines on Yaro Starak’s excellent blog here – which is well worth your […]

  • HI Leevi,

    I was wondering if you had any plans to turn this series into an ebook? I would love to see it altogether in one handy place.

    I noticed one of the commenters above mentioned Glen Allsop’s Viperchill headlines. He comes up with some gems like: “The last 5645 (or something like that!) words you’ll ever need on selling affiliate products.” I think his last one was: “It’s Here”.

    Never fails to get my attention.

    Thanks for sharing this info. Really enjoying and learning from it.

  • HI Leevi,

    Another way I find to create a eye catching heading is, put in Google search what it is your trying to say, and then once the page comes up, go through each one and pull snipits out and then play with that and finally put them together for that killer headline. Works every time.

  • Excellent post. Quite informative article on importance of headline. Thanks for sharing this.

  • If you need inspiration for headlines, go to a news search engine or blog search engine and type the keywords. You might find inspiration in one of the titles and that way you’ll come up with your own titles.

  • […] a superb article on how to write headlines on Yaro Starak’s excellent blog here – which is well worth your […]

  • Great pots. Thanks.
    I actually spend at least 70% of my time on the headline.
    This has proven to raise optins, time on site, etc. It´s well invested time.

  • Janet

    Headlines are unquestionably the hook that gets the e-mail opened. However …

    I realize I’m in the minority, but when I get e-mails (or see ads) with “one weird trick” or “one strange idea” or whatever, that says “spam” to me. I know I’m not likely to open them.

  • […] products and services, you should have a target audience for each blog post or article you create. Leevi Romanik from the Entrepreneur’s Journey states the goal of your headline is not to appeal to everyone […]

  • […] a superb article on how to write headlines on Yaro Starak’s excellent blog here – which is well worth your […]

  • […] […]

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