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30+ Proven Headline Formulas You Can Adapt and Use

Every good copywriter knows the headline is the most important part of any copy as it’s your best chance of catching a reader’s attention. It’s estimated that the headline is five-times more likely to be read than the copy. That’s a powerful opportunity to captivate and convert your readers to take desirable action.

“On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.” ~ David Ogilvy

Here are five headline types/formulas that you can always rely on:

  1. How to achieve a desired result in a short period of time, e.g. How to Be an Incredible Video Presenter in 30 Days. Don’t be afraid to use some hype in your headline. Use adjectives like incredible, magical, unbelievable, massive, jaw-dropping…
  2. X ways to achieve a desired result/avoid an undesirable outcome, e.g. 7 Ways to Click With Your Stepchildren; 5 Proven Ways to Eradicate Workplace Bullying. Using numbers has two advantages. It makes the solution appear easy, specific and doable.
  3. X success tips from an expert/celebrity, e.g. Richard Branson’s Formula for Success. Who doesn’t want to learn from the best?
  4. A step-by-step guide/system/blueprint to achieve a desired result in a short period of time, e.g. A Step-By-Step to Overcoming Any Fear in 14 Days. Everyone loves guides, systems etc. because they suggest a secret is about to be revealed to us. They also make success seem easy and assured – all we need to do is follow a series of steps. One of the most powerful headline formula around.
  5. The #1 strategy to achieve a desired result, e.g. The #1 Strategy to Make Six-Figures Day Trading. This headline relies on one of the most powerful marketing emotions out there: intrigue, “What could the #1 strategy possibly be? What am I missing out on?”

Formulas for some of the best marketing headlines in the world

Buffer Social has compiled 30 Ultimate Headline Formulas you can use. Not all will resonate with you but the classic, proven formulas are all there. Don’t reinvent the wheel – use what’s works. From their article:


I’ve said before that 90 percent of good headline-writing is obsessing over the perfect headline. The other 10 percent might be picking the appropriate headline formula. Here’re thirty of the best formulas I’ve found.

  1. The ultimate headline formula. Lenka Istvanova of Koozai Marketing developed a headline formula based on her analysis of best practices for headlines that get clicks. The formula goes like this: Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise
  2. The Secret of… This one can work in a couple fun ways: Sharing insider knowledge on a topic or sharing transparently from your own warchest of secrets, e.g. The Secret of Writing Killer Blog Content on a Near-Daily Basis.
  3. [Number] Lessons I Learned From… This one grabs attention because it’s reassuring; it gives people an example to follow and comfort knowing someone has tried, experimented, and learned from an experience already, e.g. 17 Lessons I Learned From Writing a New Blog Post Every Day for a Month

Read the full post here: https://blog.bufferapp.com/headline-formulas


Takeaway points

  1. Don’t treat your headline as an afterthought. If it’s weak, a reader may leave before discovering your great content.
  2. What type of headlines catch your attention? If they work on you, chances are they will work on your audience.
  3. Write headlines for impact first, not SEO or grammar teachers.

Action steps

  1. Go through the formulas shown/linked in this post. Identify 5-7  that you like and commit to using them. Keep an eye out for other headlines that catch your eye – in blogs, book titles, magazine articles, adverts. Add them to your swipe file.
  2. Create a compelling headline in your market using one of the proven formulas. Stretch yourself – create a headline that over-delivers – then plan your content around fulfilling that promise.
  3. Go through the headlines of existing blog titles and rewrite the weak ones. Headline writing is a valuable skill and this is good practice.

Photo credit: kvanhorn via Foter.com / CC BY




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