7 Proven Headline Formulas That Convert

Have you always wanted to increase your click through rate (CTR) and engagement of your content marketing? Do you spend hours creating your content only to have below average or worse no results. If you answered yes to these 2 questions, are you giving enough time to craft your headline?

On average, only 8 out of 10 will read headline copy, but then only 2 out 10 will read the rest of your content (after you have put so much time and effort into it). So a powerful headline is key to the success of your entire piece of content.

The really good news is if you spend a few minutes after you write your content on the headline & apply one of these 7 formulas you will see a noticeable increase in clicks/readers/subscribers.

So let’s get to them, the 7 proven headline formulas that convert:

Headline 1 – “How to…”

How to Use Social Media for Trend Research

This “How to” formula creates interest and draws us into the article as it’s something we can learn & apply immediately. Examples:

  1. How to Win Friends & Influence People (best-selling book by Dale Carnegie) 
  2. How to escape your career rut
  3. How to write magnetic headlines

Headline 2 – “Here’s how…”

Here’s How to Make a Website & How it can Benefit your Small Business

This “Here’s how” formula also creates interest and is variant of “how to” it draws us into the article so we can learn & apply our learnings immediately. Examples:

  1. Here is Every Little Detail On How To Dye Your Hair Gray (131k shares via Buzzsumo)
  2. This Vitamin Deficiency Causes Migraines and Headaches (and here’s how to fix it) (111k shares via Buzzsumo)
  3. Here’s how a stray dog sees the world (49k shares via Buzzsumo)

Headline 3 – “Learn how…”

Learn how to Delegate the Publishing of your Book Without Worry

This “Learn how” formula also creates interest and is variant of “how to” it draws us in, as we do want to learn more. It is also quite commonly typed straight into Google when they want to learn something new or answer a specific question. Examples:

  1. Learn how this family grows 6,000 lbs of food on just 1/10th acre (369k shares via Buzzsumo)
  2. Learning how to take VHS tapes & archive their content (359k shares via Buzzsumo)
  3. Learn how to bulk up your chicken legs with these exercises (122k shares via Buzzsumo)

Headline 4 – “Ask a question”

How Secure is my Password?

The “Ask a question” formula works when we ask a question our brain automatically answer(even just in our heads). This is because our brains are answer seeking devices. By choosing the question you set your audience up to answer a question that suits your needs (& theirs). Examples:

  1. Do You Make These Mistakes in English? 
  2. Do you make these 5 mistakes when choosing a builder?
  3. Are you tired of not feeling well?

P.S. “Mistake” as used in the first example is also a key power word. Humans hate making mistakes & by reading this it engages our curiosity on how to avoid said mistake.

Headline 5 – “The Lists”

The 7 Seven Deadly Sins

“The Lists” formula are summaries of information which means we can scan them quickly, then choose to read on, as we live in such a time poor society. There are some really famous and well-known lists we are all familiar with e.g the 10 commandments & the 7 deadly sins. It is also used to great effect in conjunction with the “Numbers” formula & you will see them used together in each group of examples.

  1. The Seven Deadly Chess Sins
  2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (this book by Stephen R. Covey has sold more than 25 million copies in 40 languages worldwide) 
  3. 9 Things Managers Do That Make Good Employees Quit (228k shares via Buzzsumo)

Headline 6 – “Numbers”

9 Success Habits of Wealthy People That Cost Nothing

This “Numbers” formula is used to great effect in conjunction with the “List” as above. You will find this used a lot, & always to great effect & no fatigue with overuse sets in. Numbers quantify something for us & makes it more tangible, as in it doesn’t go on endlessly “10 steps”, 5 hacks” etc. Examples:

  1. 8 toxic types of people you should keep out of your life (184k shares via Buzzsumo)
  2. 50 quotes on leadership every entrepreneur should follow (96k shares via Buzzsumo)
  3. 10 content marketing mistakes that amateurs make (11k shares via Buzzumo)

P.S. use a zero in the number (10, 20, 30) & use odd numbers (3, 7, 9, 101 etc.) as even numbers are too neat to be believable.

Headline 7 – “Attention ……..(target market)”

WANTED: SALES SPEAKERS

You just need to put your target market in the headline & you instantly get their attention (also good time saver). Examples:

  1. SMOKERS
  2. ATTENTION TEACHERS
  3. Warning: VW Owners

Bonus Headline – “Quick and Easy”

15 Quick and Easy 30 Minute Dinners (Damn Delicious)

As people are time poor, everyone wants quick and easy no one wants long and complicated. This formula is also used alongside the “numbers” formula to great effect. Examples:

  1. 15 Quick and Easy Vegetable Side Dishes (Damn Delicious) (116k shares via Buzzsumo)
  2. Quick, Easy, Secret Brew to Grow Your Plants 3 Times Faster (22k shares via Buzzsumo)
  3. 30 Quick and Easy Bathroom Decorating Ideas (3k shares via Buzzsumo)

In Summary

I hope knowing these formulas will help you engage better with your target audience & so they have the opportunity to discover your fantastic content. Please share any success stories you have with these formulas.


To download a PDF of the 7 headlines + bonus headline click here.