Just the Words: “This One Thing Made Him a Millionaire Overnight”

Watch the whole wacky show here. But if you just want the info, you’re in the right place!

So what the heck is this great thing that someone did to become a millionaire over night, you ask? Well, to be honest, there isn’t a thing. Yes, we admit, it was bit conniving, but used to prove a point: Did you open the email? Did you watch the show? Did you click on the link? Since you’re here, we might assume that, yes, you did. And that’s really what we’re here to talk about: the importance of headlines in your online marketing.

Doing this One Thing Made Him A Millionaire Over Night…


Most people don’t think about headlines very much, we suspect. You’re tired and drained from having just written a brilliant blog post or email, and now you have to expend more brain power to think of a great headline? No way! So we just slap something on there and away it goes, right?

But realize that your headlines could arguably be the most important part of your online marketing! This is the thing that gets people to open the email, click on the link, read the blog post. . . . it’s what gets them IN. Don’t insult your readers, treat them like guests and invite them into your content, give them the good stuff, not your mental leftovers!


How to Get Emails Opened

If you’ve been here before, you’ve heard us rave about Mailchimp. Here’s another reason that they’re awesome: Split Testing. Also called A/B testing, this is where you send out the same email with two different headlines, and Mailchimp helps you see which one is better, based on how many people open the darn thing. Then, after 24 hours of testing, it sends the rest with the winning headline. Looks something like this:

Mailchimp A/B test example


As you can see, Sage tested two headlines on an email about his free Udemy Mailchimp class. Looking back at it, while not in the throes of getting the darn thing out, it’s obvious why headline A was the winner. What’s the important part of the message? Free! In headline B, it’s buried at the end of the headline, where maybe some people aren’t even seeing it. Headline A has it right up front, which is where the important info should be: Lead with the strong/good stuff!

The other reason A is the clear winner is that it’s much more straightforward. Tell your readers what to expect in a clear, concise way, and you’ll be rewarded. Sometimes leading with a verb (although “get” isn’t really a strong verb) can be beneficial, in this case, it just adds to the clutter, along with “my” and “here.” And if someone doesn’t know what Mailchimp is (which definitely could be the case if someone wants to take an email marketing class), then Headline B isn’t speaking to them, because they don’t know that Mailchimp=email marketing. Headline A does.


Good Headlines are Big News

Here are a few recent articles about headlines, showing that this is important stuff. Right behind providing good content is having a great headline to entice people to read your stuff!

“8 Winning Headline Strategies and the Psychology Behind Them” on Buffer

Headlines and psychology


Not only the How but also the Why–We humans are weird, but somewhat predictable once you can see someone’s brain. Here are the 8 strategies (not too scientific for the regular person):

  1. Surprise
  2. Questions
  3. Curiosity
  4. Negatives
  5. How-to
  6. Numbers
  7. Audience referencing
  8. Specificity

And the thing that they all have in common is CLARITY. And Sage’s Mailchimp class headline bears this out.


“The 100 Greatest Headlines Ever Written”

100 Greatest Headlines


Yes, there really are 100! If you don’t have time or inclination to read them all, here’s the takeaway:

Many of the headlines are questions, which the author points out are ones that people want to know the answer to.

“They excite curiosity and interest in the body matter which follows. They hit home — cut through verbose indirectness. The best ones are challenges, which are difficult to ignore, cannot be dismissed with a quick no or yes and without further reading, are pertinent and relevant to the reader.”


“How to Write Headlines that Drive Traffic, Shares, and Search Results” from Co-Schedule

Headlines to increase traffic

This article is interesting in that it goes into specific detail about the number adn types of words used in a headline and how that can affect its performance. They also link their Headline Analyzer, which is supposed to rate your headline based on presumably these types of factors.

And it also reminds us that the bottom line is that many people will only read your headline, so the point of it is toget more people to read the rest.

Your headline exists to entice your readers to dig deeper into your content.


“TripAdvisor’s Unfair Email Marketing Advantage”

TripAdvisor email marketing


This article explores the unique way that TripAdvisor enages people in their email marketing campaigns. It breaks down the types of emails that they send in a specific order, to make even regular emails not feel spammy.

If you want to improve your open rates by 10 percent, A/B test your subject line. If want to 10x your revenue, you need to blow the whole thing up. Just like TripAdvisor.

How to Write Better Headlines

So now that you know headlines are important and that they deserve your focus, what can you do about it? Remembering that after we write that brilliant piece of content, we’re tired and want to rest our brains, not come up with a great headline.

So why not start with the headline? It might have the added benefit of getting you to focus your writing, helping oyu stay on track and not get caught up in diversions.

Another auggestion that Greg had was to test variation of your headline first, in something like the Mailchimp testing, then use the winning one to write the article.

Which made Sage think of a survey: something like “Hot or Not?” for headlines. You could do that in a survey tool, like Wufoo or SurveyMonkey, or just on your Instapage lading page. (You have that set up from a few weeks ago, right?)

You could also tweet two different headlines on Twitter and check to see which one gets clikced on more, or even in your Adwords, with your PPC ads.

A really good headline can even transcend the work itself. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a great title, maybe better than the book. How to Win Friends and Influence People is one that everyone knows, even if they’ve never read the book or know who Dale Carnegie is.

Be sure to think about your headlines–give them the effort and energy your readers deserve!!


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