6-Point Checklist to Strengthen Headlines to Boost Results

"On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”—David Ogilvy, "Ogilvy on Advertising"

Whether you're writing an article, website copy, or email subject line, keep in mind that you only have a split second—a few words—to pique your readers' interest and make them hunger for more. Otherwise, no matter how persuasive your body copy might be, it won't be read.

So, how do you ensure that your headlines work? Use this checklist.

1. Is the headline congruent with the body copy?

Avoid fluff or anything that could be construed as "click-bait" by your reader. Make sure the headline is compelling, and your body copy delivers the goods.

2. Does the headline speak to the needs, desires, and "pain" of your audience?

Creativity for creativity's sake won't connect with your audience. Address a specific point of relevance that grabs your reader's attention with language that is simple, direct, and clear.

3. Does the headline appeal to both the head and the heart?

Logic will get the reader to agree; emotion will compel the reader to act. Push both "buttons" simultaneously with your headline, and you'll motivate the right response.

4. What fat can you cut from the headline?

What words are not absolutely necessary to make your point? Remove them. Otherwise they'll confuse the reader—and you'll lose the reader's attention.

5. How does the headline score?

Test the headline with an online "headline analyzer" tool, such as these:

Both these sites score the headline on a percentage scale, with the higher the percentage, the better. Play around with different words and word combinations until you get to a score you're happy with. 

6. With these changes, do you need to adjust the body copy to ensure 100% congruity with the header?

This way, you can be confident that whatever the headline promises, the rest of your copy delivers—to engage, influence, persuade or sell.

Sean M. Lyden is CEO of Lyden Communications LLC, a Strategy and Storytelling consultancy that helps entrepreneurs tell their story in a way that grabs attention, garners trust, and grows their business. 


If you'd like to learn how to build up your story muscles, then join me on this journey to becoming a stronger communicator by subscribing below to receive my best posts sent to your inbox.

And you can also connect with me directly via email at sean@lydencommunications.com.