Improve Click Through Rates With Great Headlines

As we're all being bombarded with more and more information in less and less time, some experts are now calling this state an "attention-deficit economy".

So how can you cut through the noise with well written headlines - for a media release, email or sales letter.

Here's some tips from Robert Bly:

"The "4 U's" copywriting formula -- which stands for urgent, unique, ultra-specific, and useful -- can help.

Originally developed by my colleague Michael Masterson for writing more powerful headlines, the 4 U's formula works especially well with e-mail subject lines. I'll share it with you now.

According to this formula, strong subject lines are:

Urgent. Urgency gives the reader a reason to act now instead of later. You can create a sense of urgency in your subject line by incorporating a time element. For instance, "Make $100,000 working from home this year" has a greater sense of urgency than "Make $100,000 working from home." A sense of urgency can also be created with a time-limited special offer, such as a discount or premium if you order by a certain date.

Unique. The powerful subject line either says something new, or if it says something the reader has heard before, says it in a new and fresh way. For example, "Why Japanese women have beautiful skin" was the subject line in an e-mail promoting a Japanese bath kit. This is different than the typical "Save 10% on Japanese Bath Kits."

Ultra-specific. Boardroom is the absolute master of ultra-specific bullets, known as "fascinations," that tease the reader into reading further and ordering the product. Examples: "What never to eat on an airplane," "Bill's it's okay to pay late," and "Best time to file for a tax refund." They use such fascinations in direct mail as envelope teasers and in e-mail as subject lines.

Useful. The strong subject line appeals to the reader's self-interest by offering a benefit. In the subject line "An Invitation to Ski & Save," the benefit is saving money.

When you have written your subject line, ask yourself how strong it is in each of these 4 U's. Use a scale of 1 to 4 (1 = weak, 4 = strong) to rank it in each category."

Source: "How to Write Subject Lines That Get Your Email Opened" by Robert Bly in Copywriting TNTs, Dec 13, 2004 Vol 2, Issue 22.