Whether it’s a postcard or an email, the success of your marketing effort hangs on the headline. If your audience never gets past the headline, it doesn’t matter how great the offer is.

Here are five tips for writing headlines (or subject lines) that engage your audience and make them want to read more. 

1. Use action words.

Keep it simple. Use words that draw your audience into the action. If you’re selling outdoor gear, for example, don’t say, “Climb the Mountain!” Use “Attack the Mountain!” instead.

2. Use numbers.

People are busy. Even if it’s not something they are interested in right now, with numbered tips they are more likely to take a look. If you are selling heating and cooling equipment, for example, you might say, “Three Reasons Your Air Conditioner Might Fail This Summer.” If you sell cosmetics, you might tease, “Five Ways to Make a Guy Look Twice.”

3. Engage the emotions.

Sometimes people buy because they need something. More often, they buy because it’s something they want or think they need. Why not turn the “want” into a “need”? If you sell home security systems, for example, try “Six Ways You Think You Are Keeping Your Kids Safe (But Aren’t).”

4. Use questions.

Leaving the question hanging in the air gets people to read past your headline or open your email, especially if it engages the emotions, too. Which of these headlines is more compelling? “Every Home Needs a Carbon Monoxide Detector” or “Is Your Home Safe from This Toxic Gas?”

5. Use data.

Adding data to your headline adds credibility and interest. In digital communications, headlines with data are much more likely to be shared.

6. Use the word “you.”

People want to know what is in it for them. How are they impacted by what you have to say?  Headlines that either contain or imply “you” are more effective than ones that don’t. It allows them to see how they can win or benefit from your product or service personally.

These are simple tips with significant impact. Why not test them in your next direct mail or email campaign? Imagine the results!

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