The first thing most readers notice in print or online is a headline.
Think of it as a virtual handshake. If your headline is the text equivalent of a cold, dead fish, you’ll make a poor first impression. Or think of it as analogous to a cover letter or a request for a date. You only get one chance to introduce yourself—make it good.
Various types of headlines exist, and some are more suitable than others for various types of content. Here are eight categories appropriate for selling something, whether it’s a product or an idea, along with a sample headline of that type:
1. Direct: “Lawn Mowers on Sale”
Such an approach may seem dull, but consider that no single reader personality prevails; some people like an unadorned statement. Many people looking for lawn mowers on sale will be gratified to see the headline “Lawn Mowers on Sale” and think, “Ah, just what I was thinking.”
2. News: “Remote-Control Lawn Mower to Debut in April”
A journalistic headline conveys authority and is straightforward without being plain.
3. How-to: “How to Select the Best Lawn Mower for Your Yard”
The words “how to” have launched a million headlines and for good reason: What do you type into a search engine when you want to learn how to do something? “How to” tells readers that somebody out there wants to help them.
4. Question: “Is Your Lawn Mower the Right One for the Job?”
A query to readers is an invitation, a promise that they’ll get something out of the experience; all they have to do is pick up the magazine or click on the link and read. (cont. ragan.com)