10 Effective Headline Copywriting Secrets

Have you ever received a lackluster impression of someone after shaking their hand?

Well it’s true to say headline copywriting works the same way.

🤝 Like handshakes, your headlines can be the deciding factor for someone to do business with you.

Headlines aren’t only the first line of words readers see. It’s the only compelling reason to give your readers to move onto the piece of content.

Some argue headlines are the most important element when writing sales copy.

And it’s no surprise to hear copywriters spend the majority of their time writing headlines.

If you don’t have the time, swipe files and formulas are a great place to start. At the end of this post, you can find templates and formulas for you to copy and paste!

Let’s learn how to write convincing headlines that pull in your readers from the get-go.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

David Ogilvy

In today’s post, you will be learning about:

What is headline copywriting?

A headline is the first piece of written content visitors read before taking action. 📰 And the moment they read those few words, they decide to either keep reading or scrolling.

In other words, it’s a title. Used to captivate your readers in reading on.

Generally, titles are big, bold, eye-catching, and seductive.

For that reason, headlines are the most important element in copywriting. More important than your content that proceeds your heading.

And you only have a couple of compelling words to sell what your content is about.

Why are headlines important?

The difference between a well-written headline and a bad one is click-potential. 🖱️

You could be the best writer in the world.

And you can have the best content that takes people’s hearts away.

Or, you can have the best intentions to help your readers.


What good is your amazing content, if your readers can’t get past the first hurdle?

  • No one will read your informative blog post that has the secret formula to save the world.
  • Your compelling calls-to-action won’t get clicked.
  • The article you spent weeks writing is dead as a ghost town.
  • People are likely to scroll past your social media posts in boredom.
  • And, your bank account is likely as quiet as crickets.

The list of clickable headline copywriting tips

Let’s dive into these powerful strategies and tips you can use.

1. Write your blog headlines last

It’s like writing an amazing piece of copy and not performing a spell check at the end. No one performs a spell check at the beginning of their writing process.

If you’re going to write your headline first, use it as guidance to help write your copy. Your first should be an initial draft. But it shouldn’t be your final headline.

In fact, your headline should be the last thing you’re thinking about.

  • You’ll have a deeper understanding of the topic.
  • You’ll feel more confident coming up with something that resonates with your content.
  • It’s like adding the cherry on top to pack a punch to your readers after your hard work.

Save the best for last!

2. Write a lot of headlines and A/B test

Your first headline won’t be your last.

In copywriting, there’s no such thing as a completely finished piece of work. It involves the art of honing your craft and testing what works.

Do yourself and your readers a favor by coming up with a list of at least 10+ headlines. Then breakdown the list into smaller compelling headlines. Finally, test your top 2 headlines through A/B testing to see which one performs better.

See which ones get the most clicks, shares, and impressions.

Process: brainstorm → condense → test → analyze results → update → repeat.

The value of A/B testing leaves guessing and assumption out of the picture.

3. How to write a headline using numbers

Readers prefer to hear factual sentiments. That’s where numbers, data, and statistical information come into play.

Numbers convince your readers because they are credible and reliable.

Read for yourself, and see which title sounds more convincing, 1 or 2:

  1. “How to quickly lose weight”
  2. “How to quickly lose 25 pounds in 10 days”

The winner here is the latter of the two titles. See how vague and unclear the first option is? Whereas the second establishes a sense of certainty and validity.

Still not convinced? See for yourself and do your research.

Go to your favorite news website. It can be any random news website like

You will notice big news firms even use the same technique in grabbing readers’ attention.

Check out these convincing headline copywriting examples seen across the web using numbers.

student loan debt news article showing numbers in headline copywriting

$1.6 trillion in student debt, wow.

Makes you question the future of education.


tech jobs news article showing numbers in headline copywriting

Everyone is always looking for the next best paying job.

This one sounds enticing.

millenials vehicles news article showing numbers in headline copywriting

If millennials don’t want electric vehicles, then what type of car do they want?

See how all these statistical titles spark curiosity to click and want to read more?

4. How to write a headline using a sense of urgency

Have you ever felt guilty or regretful for turning down a great opportunity? You can blame FOMO or the fear of missing out.

That’s exactly what building a sense of urgency does. It acts on your readers’ emotions when stakes are on the line.

A study in 2018 found people are likely to perform tasks that are urgent over tasks that are more important. This shows people have a sense of immediate gratification when urgency is a factor.

Words associated with time create a mood for your readers to act fast.

  • Now
  • Today
  • Tonight
  • Instant
  • Only

Examples of sense of urgency:

  • “How to Lose 20 Pounds of Weight by Next Week”
  • “Top 6 Habits You Need to Start Now as An Adult”
  • “Buy Now Before It’s Gone”

Be wary of creating too much sense of urgency. You don’t want your readers too uneasy in defeating the purpose.

5. The ‘go big or go home’ headline

‘Go big or go home’ headlines are just that. They make bold, opinionated, or controversial statements that captivate your readers.

This style of headline copywriting carries massive click-potential that spark curiosity and emotion.

It makes the reader want to find out more, which is why it’s so effective in converting clicks.

Though, if you do choose to go bold, you need to carry through with consistency.

That means the content following your title has to be just as bold and captivating to the reader.

Just imagine, purchasing the most beautiful and luxurious car.


Taking it out for a test drive and you end up underwhelmed because of the car…

Well, it just sucks.

The car has horrible mpg, carries blind spots, doesn’t feel right, and isn’t up to date on the latest technology.

The product can’t carry on with the hype.

Check out some of these big bold headlines that turn heads.

bold headline copywriting on breakfast

What’s this one about?

Everyone knows breakfast is the meal for champions.

bold headline copywriting on blogging

This one’s good.

Apparently blogging is a complete was of your time.

This one works well in instilling fear by making a bold statement.

bold headline copywriting on seo

Definitely a bold statement.

Like the previous example, this one targets website owners by instilling fear again.

bold headline copywriting on making million dollars

Who doesn’t want to make a million dollars?

What’s the 411 on this one?

6. How to write a headline using the benefits

Don’t sell them the mattress. Sell them the good night’s sleep.

Your readers only care about what’s in it for them. And how your headline will add value to their lives.

So center your headline around a benefit-driven message that will enrich your readers. 😍

Think about these questions your readers are asking themselves:

  • “What will I get out of this?”
  • “How will this improve my productivity?”
  • “Where’s the value I seek?”

Here are examples of benefits headlines:

  • “Doing This Secret Will Boost Your Follower Count in 10 Days”
  • “5 Negotiation Tricks to Get You a Higher Salary”
  • “The #1 Best Strategy How to Rank Faster”

7. How to write a headline using power and sensory words

Studies show certain words trigger the human brain on how we make decisions. Special power and sensory words have the ability to stimulate our cognitive thinking.

Power words and sensory words have the ability to impact your readers by packing a punch. They prompt your readers to click your post.

Power words enhance your readers’ experience by invoking emotion and action. They serve as a catalyst to spark curiosity, communicate clarity, and stand out.

Whereas, sensory words appeal to the human senses. 👃 Activating our taste, touch, visual, olfactory, and audible receptors.

These types of words help your readers visualize your copywriting. They help your readers spark their imagination and use their senses.

Examples of power words: best, effective, free, trust, results.

Examples of sensory words: radiant, smooth, hot, screeching, putrid.

8. How to write a headline using humor

Using humor can be a great technique for writing headlines… if done correctly. Humor is a strong and powerful emotion. It can hit the right spots in people, or it can trigger anger by offending your audience.

  • Play on words, puns
  • Tell a joke
  • Sarcasm or wit
  • Self-deprecation
  • End it with a punchline

Using humor when writing headlines comes with risk. You don’t want to harass anyone. There’s nothing tackier than hurting someone’s feelings.

Things to avoid in writing humorous headlines:

  • Gender bashing
  • Political bashing
  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Swearing

With humor, a little goes a long way, so use humor sparingly.

9. How to write a headline using emojis ✍️

Emojis are in right now. And they’ve been around for a while now, for a good reason… because they work.

Emojis have the power to connect your readers through visual and captivating imagery.

Benefits of using emojis in your headlines:

  • Paint a picture in your readers’ minds to mirror your words.
  • Stand out with an eye-catching and colorful icon.
  • Engage your readers by bringing life into your copy.

Best practices for using emojis in your headlines:

  1. Don’t overuse them. Emojis can be too distracting and sometimes even make your copy look overdecorated. For something short such as headlines, one emoji is all you need.
  2. Make sure you’re using the right emojis. Does the emoji you’re using resonate with your words? How about your brand image?
  3. Be aware of what your emojis mean. What you think means an innocent emoji, may mean something else to your readers. You don’t want to be painting the wrong image or impression to your readers.

10. How to write a headline using formulas

Swipe file formulas

Don’t have the time or creative ideas to invent something compelling?

Swipe files consist of many effective copywriting formulas used in the past.

Swipe files are a great resource to reference when writing your headlines. It’s easy to customize to your liking, which makes swipe formulas convenient.

Feel free to save these swipe file formulas to use for future reference.

  • [Number] Proven Techniques To [Topic]
  • The Number 1 Secret To [Topic]
  • [Number] Biggest Lies In [Your Industry]
  • The Ugly Truth About [Topic]
  • [Number] [Power Word] Hacks to [Topic]
  • [Number] Shocking Statistics About [Topic]
  • Do You Know About These [Power Word] Strategies?
  • [Number] Lessons I Learned About [Topic]
  • A [Power Word] Way to [Topic]
  • How To [Power Word] [Topic]
  • The Comprehensive List Of [Topic]
  • Stop Doing This To Improve Your [Metric]
  • How To Fast-Track Your [Desired Result]
  • Are You Still Doing [Action]?
  • How To Turn Your [Noun] Into [Desired Result]
  • [Number] Steps To [Topic]
  • How I Increased My [Metric] by [Topic]
  • Little Known Ways To [Topic]
  • [Number] Questions Answered About [Topic]
  • Beginner’s Guide To [Topic]
  • Ultimate Guide: [Topic]
  • How To [Topic] In [Number] Easy Steps
  • How To Easily Upgrade Your [Topic]
  • Why Your [Topic] Is A Problem, And How You Can Fix It
  • Never Before Seen Insights Into [Topic]
  • [Number] Essential Things You Need For [Topic]
  • How To Boost Your Productivity By [Topic]
  • [Number] Best Strategies To [Topic]
  • [Topic] Vs [Topic]

Pain-Agitate-Solve formula (PAS)

One of the most effective and simple formulas that deliver results well.

Here’s the simple formula:

Step 1: Introduce your reader’s problem or pain point.

Step 2: Shake things up to make your reader uncomfortable.

Step 3: Present your reader’s solution.

It’s that basic.

Check out these powerful PAS copywriting examples put into play:

“Habits You’re Doing That Prevent You From Finding A Partner, And How To Fix Them”

“Your Sleeping Problems May Mean Something Else Frightening: Do This To Change It”

“Why You’ll Never Get Out Of Debt Unless You Take These Critical Actions Now”

Now that’s a killer formula.

PAS formulas never fail.

Before and after Connection formula

It’s another popular and powerful copywriting formula that works.

The formula consists of first presenting a problem. Then a solution to that problem. Finally connecting the two.

When broken down, looks like this:

Before: This is what your world looks like, with a problem.

After: This is what your world looks like, without a problem.

Connection: And this is how you get there.

These are some examples of effective before and after connection headlines:

“How To Make Your Micromanaging Boss Gain trust In You To Get That Promotion”

“When there’s Not Enough Time In The Day, And What You Can Do To Be More Productive”

“Lackluster Lawn? The Grass Can Be Greener With These Lawn Keeping Secrets”

Now, those sound like articles worth reading.

What is the value and benefits formula

Value and benefit-driven formulas are another great headline copywriting technique that converts.

In the busy world that we live in, we are all limited on time.

That means, visitors only want the best content that provides the most value to them.

By nature, we ask ourselves questions before figuring out if we want to move on.

Important questions we ask are:

“What is this, and how does it benefit or value my time and life?”

“What will this do for me?”

“What purpose will this serve for me?”

Put yourself in your readers’ shoes by providing value to them.

When writing these types of headlines, only focus on the values and benefits, not the features.

Here is the general formula:

“Here’s What This Does For You… How This Will Help You… This Is What You Get”

Some more examples:

“This Amazing Tool Will Boost Your Productivity By 200%”

“The Power Of Copywriting And How It Can Boost Your Profits”

“3 Easy To Follow Techniques To Relieve Stress And Live A Happier Life”

You can never go wrong with implementing these types of headlines.

Closing up how to write a headline that sells

So there you have it, the importance of headline copywriting and why you shouldn’t overlook it.

Headlines are crucial to make or break your sales. 💸

A good one converts your readers.

And, a bad one won’t make your bank account look any exciting.

To recap:

  1. Write them last.
  2. Draft a lot of them, A/B test, and update.
  3. Numbers compel your audience with factual sentiments.
  4. Build a sense of urgency.
  5. Go bold!
  6. Show the benefits.
  7. Power and sensory words pack a punch.
  8. Be funny using humor.
  9. Use emojis for an eye-catching experience
  10. Still stuck? Formulas and swipe files can help set the foundation up.

What are some headline copywriting techniques you use for your sales copy?

Please share them below!