How to Create an Optimized Headline - Instapage Guide

How to Create an Optimized Headline

Last updated on June 13, 2017

A landing page headline is quite similar to a physical first impression, it’s the first thing the visitor sees and so it sets the tone for the rest of your landing page.

Would you want to know about the Liberty University based solely on the landing page headline, ‘Why Liberty’?

Liberty University Landing Page Headline

We didn’t too.

The headline and sub-headline has one very specific job to do and that is to convince and engage visitors to stay on the page long enough to go through the rest of the copy and in the end click the call to action button.

Not all landing pages use a sub-headline, but those that too use the element to further explain the offer or share the unique value proposition. When your main headline is running too long and you feel you still haven’t hit that marketing sweet spot, you should use a sub-headline to get your point across.

Asana uses a sub-headline to explain their UVP, while the main headline explains what the service does for users:

Asana Landing Page Headline Examples

Process Street analyzed headlines from 87 SaaS startup landing pages, taken from the top 100 AngelList’s Trending section, they reported the following key findings:

  • 14% of SaaS landing pages have no subheadline.
  • The average word count of a headline is 6.
  • The average word count of a subheadline is 12.
  • The average CoSchedule headline analyzer score of the sample set was 59
  • 39% of headlines sell a benefit of the software
  • 20% of headlines use social proof
  • Around 50% of headlines and subheadlines had a positive sentiment
  • Around 13% of headlines and subheadlines had a negative sentiment
  • You and Your are 10 times more likely to appear than We and Our
  • 42% of headlines contain jargon terms
  • Speed, simplicity, humanity, growth, money and improvement are the 6 main themes expressed in landing page copy
  • Every single headline can be boiled down to 9 formulas

The great David Oglivy, had this to say about headlines:

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.

Headlines are a high ticket item because in this day and age of internet marketing where 2.4 million search queries are made on Google in one minute visitors are cautious and untrusting, and if they don’t like your headline or worse if they’re put off by it, well then that landing page of yours doesn’t really get a second chance.

An optimized headline should have the following characteristics:

1. Clear: The headline you choose for your landing page must be clear, it should explain what your UVP is and also communicate the benefits your product/offer has for your visitors. Whether you use a question headline, a statistic in your headline or go forward with humour your headline needs to clearly explain your offer.
2. Relevant: The headline you end up including on your landing page needs to be relevant to the offer you’re trying to promote and the google ad that your landing page is connected to. If your headline isn’t relevant to your offer, there is a strong possibility of you confusing visitors who’ve landed on your page after clicking the PPC ad.
3. Emotive: Establishing a human connection with your audience is a very important aspect of marketing. Your headline should ideally speak to your visitors on an emotional level. It should empathize with their problem and present your product or offer as a solution to their problem.

Creating a headline that checks off all three boxes of clarity, relevance and empathy is a headline you can attract visitors with and hopefully convince them to click your call to action button.

Types of Headlines

John Caples identified four main types of attention worthy headlines you can use on your landing page:

News Headlines

These headlines are structured in a way that they arouse curiosity. News headlines typically begin with the word ‘Introducing’ or ‘Announcing’, you can also use words like ‘At last’, ‘New’ and ‘Now’ to write news headlines.

The Kissmetrics webinar page features a news headline:

Kissmetrics Webinar Page Example

Self-Interest Headlines

These types of headlines appeal to the visitors’ self-interest, headlines like, ‘The guaranteed to gain more muscle’ fall in this category.

Uber uses a self-interest headline on their landing page:

Uber Landing Page Headline Example

Quick and Easy

The headlines to the visitors’ desire for quick fix formulas, such as ‘lose belly fat in 10 days with this one secret formula’.

Viddyoze uses a quick and easy headline on their landing page:

Viddyoze Landing Page Headline Example

Curiosity

These headlines make the visitors want more by piquing their interest, such as ‘You won’t believe how I made a million dollars while sitting on my couch’.

Don’t think of yourself as a master wordsmith to come up with a headline that makes your visitors stick? Use the following formulas to craft a headline worthy of your landing page.

The PAS Formula

The PAS in the PAS formula stands for ‘problem-agitate-solve’, these are the main steps you need to follow to ensure that your headline works:

    a. Problem: Identify a problem
    b. Agitate: Pick at the problem, by making prospects emotional
    c. Solve: Tell them the solution to that problem

Essentially your headline should include the problem your target customer is having, it should then pick at that problem by explaining how bad you have it and finally it should present your service as the solution to your potential customers’ problem.

Imagine you work at a boutique copywriting agency struggling to get clients, because most of them end up going with big brand companies. You do know however that the target customer yearns for a customer centric approach on a budget so this is the headline you come up with using the PAS formula, ‘Can’t get your customers to click (problem)- Is your business writing suffering because you don’t have enough cha-ching?(Agitate) The Boutique Copywriting Agency provides with conversion copywriting on a budget.’(Solution)

Here are some other examples of the PAS formula in action.

Conversion XL’s Headline Formulas

Peep Laja from Conversion XL has created three headline formulas after analysing 500 headlines, these formulas help you craft headlines that work for visitors who crave authenticity and are allergic to BS.

Formula #1: Say What It Is

This formula addresses our brain’s most fundamental question, ‘what is that?’. Your headline should simply explain what your offer is about, and if you’ve done due diligence with your research your target visitors would be convinced in no time.

Tableau uses a ‘say what it is’ headline on their whitepaper landing page:

Tableau Landing Page Headline Example

So does Crazy Egg:

Crazy Egg Landing Page Headline Example

Formula #2: Say What You Get

Tell your visitors what benefit they’ll get when they click your call to action button, this could be done by mentioning your UVP.

Zoho uses the ‘say what you get’ headline on their landing page:

Zoho landing page headline example
Formula #3: Say What You Can Do With It

Tell your prospects what they’ll be able to do with your offer, so they can visualize themselves performing that action and click the call to action button.

Got it tells visitors what they’ll be able to do once they click the call to action button:

Got It Call To Action Button Example

Craft engaging headlines to make your visitors stay on the page to find out more about your offer.