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How to Write Headlines that Lure In Readers... Like Charlie Sheen to a Media Scrum

A good headline is critical. Its purpose is to captivate your readers' attention and entice them into your body text. If it fails, all your work will be for nought and you won't stand a chance of persuading your would-be readers.

You've only got one chance, so you've got to get it right. But how do you entice readers into your copy?

Most importantly, you have to offer a benefit to your readers. Indicate that if they read on, they'll get some kind of payoff.

But in most cases, you don't actually spell out the benefit in the headline. Rather, you engage the reader's curiosity by hinting at the benefit. Do this right, and readers will find it irresistible. They'll be hooked.

It's curiosity — fueled by the promise of a wonderful benefit — that makes a great headline. Below are some proven techniques for writing compelling headlines.


Persuasive Copywriting: Structuring Your Message With the Time-Proven AIDA Method

Last week, I outlined some preliminary homework we have to do before starting to write. Let's assume that's done now, and move on to structuring our message.

How do we structure messages that resonate with visitors, and lead them to take the action we desire?

We can take a cue from traditional advertising copywriters here. For generations, they've relied on a structure called "AIDA" to convince customers they simply must buy their clients' products.

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. I'll explain each step below.


Persuasive Copywriting: 3 Things You Need to Know Before You Start

In deciding what action to take (including which products to buy), we're influenced by both logical and emotional forces.

Logical motivations include:

  • Saving money
  • Saving time
  • Avoiding dangers or hassles
  • Achieving better results

Emotional motivations include:


Online Persuasion: 3 Basic Human Goals That Motivate Your Customers

To influence our customers' decisions, we must understand what motivates them.

In 2004, Cialdini and Goldstein published a remarkable paper* which neatly explains three basic human goals that make us susceptible to persuasion. I'll briefly describe each below.

1. Accuracy

When making a buying decision, we need to feel confident that we're relying on accurate information and that buying is the correct thing to do.


Online Marketing: How to Prevent Your Own Biases From Leading You Astray

"Nobody would actually BUY this stuff... right??"

Not long ago, I wrote some posts on psychological biases. The crux: knowing your customers' biases can help you create messages that truly resonate.

But there's an interesting flip side. Because as marketers, we're equally biased. We tend to assume our customers will share our own feelings and beliefs.

Biases such as False Consensus and Confirmation Bias can prevent us from recognizing what our customers really want, including:

  • Which products and services will be of interest?
  • What messaging will resonate with readers?
  • Which special offers will motivate them?


Online Copywriting Tip: How to Polish Your Text

Writing well comes easier to some people than to others. But even for the best writers, getting good results is largely a matter of putting in the effort.

In this post, I'll list a few tips that anyone can use to improve their writing.

Start with an outline

Before you even start writing, think carefully about the overall structure of your work. What's a good starting point? How should it flow? What examples should you give? How should it end?

If you plan this in advance, the actual writing will be much more easier... and the finished product will hold up better.


The Power of Social Proof

Last Wednesday was Michael Straker's webinar on Online Persuasion: The Power of Social Proof. For those of you who missed it, we've recorded it and have it up on our webinar page. I've also embedded the video below the jump, so hit "more" to watch it.


Writing for the Web: To Whom, Or Not to Whom

"Whom do you love, sir?

I must admit, every time I use the word whom, I feel a bit uneasy.

Though I'm uncomfortable using bad grammar — and I know stickers would bristle at an incorrect who — sometimes whom just sounds pompous. Like a 19th century English butler.

Let's explore proper usage of who vs whom, then consider whether there are cases where we might justifiably depart from the excruciatingly correct.


Online Persuasion: The Power of Social Proof - Everyone is going!

This is your last chance to sign up for this Wednesday's webinar on Social Proof, presented by Michael Straker

While we normally think about social proof from the perspective of ecommerce, focusing on user reviews and testimonials, social proof applies to a huge slew of different contexts, from helping waiters get better tips, to making people trust you, to preventing suicides.

Sign up now to attend at 10am on the 26th.

Understanding Social Proof: A Matter of Life or Death?

As a teaser for next week's webinar, I'd like to provide one simple — if tragic — example of how incredibly powerful Social Proof really is.

Have you ever noticed that the media rarely cover suicide stories? You hear about suicides through the grapevine, not through the newspapers or TV.

There's a good reason for this. It's because every time a suicide is widely publicized, a whole raft of copycat suicides follow.

This is known as The Werther Effect, after Goethe's 18th century novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther. In the novel, Werther commits suicide. Soon after publication, the book was banned... to stop a huge spike in suicides.

Even more surprising is how similar copycat suicides are:


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