How to write strong headlines?

26 April 2023 8 minutes Author: Lady Liberty

Definition of CA

The target audience is a group of people with similar needs and interests that the company can satisfy by selling its products. The issue of correctly defining the target audience is one of the most fundamental in marketing and entrepreneurship. And marketing itself is nothing but common sense: understanding people’s behavioral scenarios, identifying the mechanisms that influence decision-making, and introducing products or services into the chain of these mechanisms. To sell something to a person, you need to understand why they need it. And then – convey as clearly as possible how our product or service will solve her need. And this is where the definition of the target audience will be needed. Of course, all people are different and we cannot say exactly what our first customer will be called, how many children the seventeenth has and who works for the thirty-fifth. But statistics is an inexorable science. Having determined an approximate portrait of a potential customer, we will be able to better understand what is important to him. And, most importantly, by what criteria does he choose goods. What are you willing to pay for? What message will interest him. Which product will solve his need. What he is ready to ignore, and what he will pay attention to in any case.

Regardless of whether it is an essential product or an emotional purchase, the ability to understand the principle behind the customer’s decision-making becomes key in the marketing strategy. It is on this principle that communication with the client should be built: to emphasize what is important to him, and not to spend the budget on unnecessary things. Defining the target audience is important for any entrepreneur. After all, it is the closure of customers’ needs – rational or emotional – that is the basis of successful business projects. It’s not that difficult to do. The main thing is to understand the value of your own product and be able to explain it to the buyer.

Using different models and formulas

AIDA Model

If you are familiar with the basics of marketing, you know the AIDA model, if not, let us explain. The abbreviation AIDA stands for the following:

  • A – Attention

  • I – Interest

  • D – Desire

  • A – Action

  • S – Satisfaction (satisfaction, the letter appeared in a later version of the model).

The essence of the model is that any marketing text should first attract the reader’s attention and then arouse his interest in a product or service. After that, the reader should want to buy this product or, accordingly, use the service, perform the targeted action and be satisfied with himself and his purchase: “How good I am – I bought a new iron. Now I will wear a good one to work”.

AIDA is designed for texts in general, not specifically for headlines, but if you compose your headlines based on this model, their quality will still increase several times.

Formula 4U

The 4U formula, or the “four U” formula, is directly related to headline writing. So what are these four U’s?

  • Usefulness, that is, you need to convince the reader to read the article, which means you need to explain why he needs it. For example: “How to sit on the twine”.

  • Ultra-specificity. Be concise and specific, do not “blur” the meanings, the target audience and the offer itself. Let’s add to the previous headline: “How to get on the splits at 27 from scratch”.

  • Urgency – the urgency of getting results after reading the text: “How to get on the splits at 27 from scratch in 3 weeks”.

  • Uniqueness – your unique offer, what makes you and your text stand out from the crowd: “How to get on the splits at 27 from scratch in three weeks according to the method of the American Mobility Institute”.

ODC model

The ODC formula is most suitable for advertisements. It consists of the following elements:

  • Offer (offer)

  • Deadline (limited in time, may also be limited in quantity)

  • Call to action

Example: “Until the end of the week, orange raff at the price of a cappuccino. Register in the application and take advantage of the promotion right now!”

What else can you touch?

Now that you have decided on the target audience, inspired by different approaches and imagine a rough framework of your headline – here are some ideas that will be useful to you.


I must say that you became interested in the topic of writing headlines in time, because not just formulas, but templates have already been created for you, in which you only need to enter the necessary words:

  • [Adjective] and [Adjective] [Proposal] [Expected result]

    “Ecological and balanced dishes of our vegetarian menu will not only tone up your body, but also save you 120 hours a month”

  • How to get [Desire of the target audience] without [what the target audience does not like]”How to get a large active audience without spending millions on PR”

Numbers in the title

Just like “everyone already hates lists and checklists”, “everyone hates numbers in headlines”. If you think that all these “7 ways…”, “9 reasons…” etc. are boring, they are not. Feel free to use.

There is only one piece of advice: have you noticed that when you need to pull some number out of your head, it is either 5, or 10… 15, 20, in general, a “beautiful” number that is a multiple of five? So when reading, the opposite is true: “ugly” numbers are a stronger trigger. In addition, it will immediately be clear to everyone that you did not torture yourself with the text in order to score exactly 10 or 15 points.

In addition to heading various lists, numbers are needed for persuasiveness and specificity. Example: “18 minutes of laser correction and your vision is like 30 years ago.”

Questions in the headlines

Who, what, where, when, why and how – 5 of your rescuers. Note that interrogative words look most advantageous with action verbs:

  • “How to whiten teeth at home”

  • “Where to buy cheap flights to Turkey for December”

Clickbait words

Many of you have probably faced the situation when you need to make an effort of will not to click on an incredibly attractive headline, even if you understand that it is nonsense (we are not alone in this, right?). Their secret is in the influence on our psyche. Legendary examples that have become memes are “British scientists proved…” and “Wang predicted…” In the first case, the authority of foreign science is used, and in the second case, the cult personality and its importance for popular culture.

Here are some more gentle clickbait words that work so far (the main thing is to know the measure and your target audience):

  • Innovative;

  • Sensation;

  • A miracle;

  • Quickly;

  • From scratch;

  • It’s easy;

  • Free of charge;

  • Professional;

  • Secret.

Before publication

When you have come up with a dream headline, wait with the publication. First, do this:

  1. Make sure you have not made any grammatical mistakes. Agree that it will be somewhat comical if the advertisement of preparation for the USE in Russian language says “Russian” – immediately failure.

  2. Think about whether there are too many words in your title and whether you can reduce their number. The optimal number of words is from 5 to 8.

  3. Check whether your language style matches the needs of the target audience, whether they want to be addressed on a first name basis, and whether they understand what subsidies are, for example. At the same time, remember about yourself. Do not betray the style of the represented brand. If someone doesn’t like it, maybe it’s just not your target audience.

  4. Do not overdo it with clickbait. Do not use worn-out templates and, especially, Wang with British scientists (unless it is for a joke).

  5. If you are a designer, a copywriter, a marketer, and the Seven-Faced God himself in one person, then, in addition to the content of the headline, you need to think about its design: a good font that is easy to read, the right choice of color (not white on yellow), the right location on the page/ad and much more. By the way, it may be necessary to make the text invisible.

  6. If it is a text on a social network, you may be tempted to add an emoji. There are no prohibitions on this, but first make sure that it will be appropriate, because, as a rule, it is still unnecessary :,(

  7. Finally, test your headline before publishing. Gather a focus group: ask your colleagues and friends whether they would follow the link with your headline or not. And no kidding: be sure to run a split test.

  8. Done, publish.

Now you have material for reflection and for improving your headlines, but remember that trends are constantly changing: something becomes outdated, something new appears. Train surprise, reflect on your behavior on the Internet: what headlines attract you, what catches you. Make notes, and gradually the process of creating titles will take you much less time (just do not forget about the texts themselves).

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