This is the second part of the headline series. If you missed the first part check it out here.
2. The Four U’s Technique for Headline Writing
This is perhaps the most cited but least used (in practice) method. In this method you simply come up with a statement that is Ultra-specific
, suggests Usefulness
, conveys Urgency
and is Unique
I bet if you did a search of landing page headlines, online ads and print ads you would be hard pressed to find one that has all four elements.
It is a hard method to use because it imposes too many constraints. In many ways, it is like the perfect weight loss or financial plan that no one can follow. Useful
The Useful element in this method is equivalent to personal benefit in the 3 factors technique discussed above. Ultra-Specific
Specificity is more believable than generality. We’ve verified this time and again in our A/B split tests.
Of the two headlines below, the first outperforms the second in getting email opt-ins. We Help Companies Grows Sales by 32.4% (on avg) In 6 – 12 Weeks We Help Companies Grows Sales 20% -- 30% In 6 – 12 Weeks
Dove soap found that claiming their product was 99.4% pure pulled in more responses than claiming it was 100% pure.
In the early 2000’s internet marketer Yanik Silver created a best-selling offer called 33 Days To Online Profits.
I doubt it would have done as well if it had been named 30 Days To Online Profits
Some people go overboard in their specificity, notably legendary copywriter Dan Kennedy and his disciples. Dan Kennedy style headlines typically read something like this: “How 32,811 small business owners increased their profits on average $6,947.11 by attending my seminar at the location, Latitude 47.6080 and Longitude -122.33516”
Okay, I exaggerated a little but you get the point! The rationale for doing this is, there is a certain type of prospect (the analytical) for whom this headline is gold.
They are about 25% of the population and since you do not have a live sales person to tailor the message to the personality type, the headline and landing page should include elements that appeal to every type of prospect.
Dan Kennedy headlines tend to be like Nigerian Bollywood movie titles—they give away the entire plot in the title.
For example: “The Story of The Guy who dated his mother’s cousin at 3pm on a Sunday in Abuja, Ate a Plate of Yam Fufu and Okra soup and then died” Urgent
Urgency is the toughest to do in a headline. The headline’s only job is to get the person to read the rest of the landing page, while the landing page’s job is to sell and close.
By introducing urgency in the headline you are trying to sell and close before you have built desire. You build desire by articulating the benefits of your offer on the landing page.
Urgency only works when the offer is well known to the prospects, for example:
“Your Last Chance to Get Microsoft Office 365 at 30% OFF. Act NOW. Offer Ends 11:59am 3/30/2016
The first quality of a good headline is it should be a ‘stopper’, meaning it should stop the prospect dead in their tracks and make them pay attention. You are far more likely to succeed at this by being unique than by rehashing the familiar.
Being unique also means that you have a stronger underlying value proposition. Value proposition theory holds that the two most important elements of an offer are appeal
. The attractiveness of your offer’s value proposition is diluted by the number of similar competing options;
Diagram courtesy of Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, founder MECLABS