Are Your “Killer” Headlines Killing Your Sales?

Got a great question the other week:

“Apryl, how can I write ‘killer’ headlines?”

Frankly, this is one of most frequently asked questions copywriters get.

After all, if nobody makes it past the headline, you can stick a fork in your offer – no matter how irresistible it is or how intriguing your sales page.

So let’s have a little informal “challenge.”

Read the following email subject lines and try to guess which one had the highest open rate:

  1. Shake what your mama gave ya
  2. Free writing help
  3. Why do we use swear words

Advertising critics would say:

“All these suck!” There’s no pain or benefit! Where’s the numbers, we all know list subject lines are awesome? My mama didn’t give me anything to shake? ‘Free’ will get sucked up in spam filters. Who swears in business writing? You’re nuts, Apryl!”

And, of course, these critics would be wrong.

Before I tell you the winner, here’s a dirty little secret:

Focusing all your attention on the market is the magic of copywriting. And when you write headlines, think market first, product second.

Do this and you’ll get way better results. You see when you talk about someone’s insecurities, trends, past times, fears, wants, pains, you will never bore them. They will hang on your every word. And your headlines will never go ignored.

Let me drive this lesson home.

I sent the “shake what your mama gave ya” email in March to promote one of my copywriting services, and at that time it had the highest open rate of all my emails – 60%. Nowadays, I rarely even check email stats.

I don’t let open rates and click-through numbers mess with my mind anymore.

The only number that matters are sales.

And that number has tripled over the past few months.

Anyways, here’s the point:

You can find “killer” headlines anywhere.

Just flip through the “junk” magazines at the checkout line in your local grocery store.

Watch the news and listen to how the anchor leads to a story right before the commercial break.

Listen to heart-wrenching one liners in hip-hop, gospel and country music.

Go to a movie.

Play with those addictive little headline analyzers (just for fun, please).

“Killer” headlines are literally everywhere.

Focus on What Matters Most

So don’t stress over writing so-called “killer” headlines. Frankly, they can kill your sales because they usually don’t focus on what matters most …

The Market!

Gurus will tell you to use numbers to your headlines.

Include explosive words.

Insert “You.”

And these are theoretically solid tips.

But really, all you gotta do is …

Focus all your attention on your audience first. The loyal followers and fresh pile of leads you want to invest in your products and services. And then the product or service.

Do this, and your headline will be killer without you fussing with “guru” tips and tricks.

Plus, you’ll make a ton more sales.

At least, that’s what has worked for me.