How to Write Powerful Headlines People Can’t Ignore

We’ve all seen these headlines.

In our weaker moments, we have all clicked them.

12 Mysterious Photos That Cannot Be Explained – #5 Will Scare the Life out of You!

6 Celebs Who Ruined Innocent Lives

Why You Should Never Take Your Shoes off on a Plane

What makes these clickbait headlines so irresistible?

There’s a three-part strategy to it. Once you learn it, you can bring the same kind of readability and clickability to your own (much more worthwhile) content.

I’ve learned this approach from Ray Edwards, a world-class copywriting master who has sold an estimated 100 million dollars worth of product for legends like Jack Canfield and Tony Robbins.

If you’ve seen Ray’s work, you know he’s a master of writing a headline that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

Ready to write powerful headlines that people can’t ignore? Here you go:

Capture the reader’s attention

Here’s what you need to know about your readers.

They are not readers.

Not yet, anyway.

At first, they’re scanners. They’re scrolling through your copy, looking for key words, reading bits and pieces, trying to figure out if it’s worth their time to read.

More than anything else, they’re looking at your headlines. Make sure they’re a compelling invitation to stay awhile.

Take this headline from email marketing service provider MailChimp:


It’s short, which makes it readable. And it speaks clearly to why someone is there — they’re dissatisfied with their current email marketing and they want to grow their business.

The relevance of this headline, combined with its incredible readability, are going to make a qualified customer stop and pay attention.

Make an interesting promise

Now that you’ve got their attention, tell your readers what’s in it for them.

Use your headline to make a promise of some kind. It’s a specific way you’re going to make their life easier. Delight them. Save them money. Take away pain.

Here’s an example from fashion stylist company Trunk Club. This is from the portion of their website where they talk about their services for men:


Never shop again? It’s a very bold (and for some of us, very enticing) promise, and they are just declaring it outright.

When your web visitors read your promise, they’re going to start imagining what life would look like if that promise got fulfilled. And that means you’ve made an emotional connection with your copy. That will engage customers now and make selling easier later.

Create compelling curiosity

You’ve gotten their attention. You’ve gotten them engaged with a promise.

But how can you get them to keep reading?

Write headlines that contain…

…either a mystery to be solved
…or a curiosity to be explained
…or a question to be answered.

Our brains are hardwired to pay attention to what’s unresolved. This is a real thing. It’s called The Zeigarnik Effect, and it’s named after a Russian psychologist who figured out that we’re more likely to remember tasks that were left unfinished.

The same effect is in play here, so don’t finish your thought in your headline. Leave that loop open, so to speak, so your reader’s brain keeps reading in order to close it.

My buddy Stu McLaren recently launched his online course Tribe, and his sales page was chock full of headlines like this. Here’s one example:


Stu opens a loop, asking if I’m “one of these three kinds of people.” What three kinds of people, Stu?! I have to keep reading to get the answer and close that loop in my brain.

By the way, this strategy of opening loops doesn’t just work in headlines. Try opening loops at the beginning of your next email campaign, so people keep reading in order to close it.

Next time you’re writing a headline for your website or even your blog articles, stop and review these three elements of a successful headline. I’m confident you’ll boost your engagement and sales.

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