Headline Writing: Use the 4 U’s to Turn Your Readers into Customers

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  • More subscriptions
  • More sales
  • And ultimately more money…

…from your ads and blog posts, right?

But only 1 out 5 people bother to read your copy after seeing the headline.

So only 20% of your readers and web-visitors bother to read your ad or blog post.

(And if your headlines aren’t high-quality, you won’t even get that).

But there’s a way to not only improve your headlines, but objectively grade them as well.

The 4 U’s

The 4 U’s is a way of evaluating your headlines based on four criteria, and they are:

  1. Urgent
  2. Unique
  3. Ultra-Specific
  4. Useful

Basically you assess your headline based on each category, and rank it from 1-4 (low to high).

And you want each category to be a 4.

(And if you’re wondering if you absolutely need a rank four in each & every category – the answer is no).

But you should get at least a three in three of the categories, so try to remember something like “do I got a 3×3?” when you grade your headlines.

The categories explained

I made sure to include specific examples that you can model off of. And I also provided easy-to-add words that improve conversion rates.

That way each category is easy for you to implement in your copywriting and headlines.

#1. Urgent

An urgent headline has an element of urgency added to it. It’ll contain words like:

  • Now
  • Today
  • Limited time/quantity
  • Last day
  • This week/month/year only

…and so on.

Urgency makes a headline more compelling.

The reader knows that it’s “one time” deal or it won’t be available again for a long time, so they act.

Make sense?

Here are a couple ways you can use urgency:

  • Order today to get 50% off
  • How to earn $10,000 more this year from freelancing alone
  • This week only save 20% on Valencia oranges
  • Get $150.00 if you buy NOW

In some cases you can take a good headline and plug in an urgent word. This is an easy way to increase its ability to convert.

#2. Unique

A unique headline helps your ad or blog post stand out.

But “unique” can mean many things.

One way to be unique is by using an odd topic or angle.

For example:

  • What foods never to eat on an airplane
  • Why Japanese women have beautiful skin

Most people never thought to avoid specific foods when traveling by plane. Just as well, many never wondered why Japanese women have beautiful skin.

In both cases our curiosity is evoked. And curiosity is a powerful motivator that can lure in more customers and subscribers when used.

Another method for creating unique headlines is using literary writing techniques.

For instance:

  • Alliteration – 5 methods to make more money
  • Rhyme – How to sell honey to make more money
  • Metaphor – The James Bond guide to living a better life

Literary techniques help differentiate your headlines from the dozens your readers see every day. And just as well, they can be fun to write.

#3. Ultra-Specific

A specific statement increases believability.

The act of being specific makes it seem like more effort has been put in, which you wouldn’t expect from a person trying to swindle you.

For example:

Earn Money Now VS See How I Earned $22 With This One Easy Trick TODAY

In the second example, you get the feeling that he worked for the $22. But not necessarily in an underhanded way.

An easy way to add specificity to your headline is by adding numbers. Any numbers.

For example:

  • 5 ways to… VS How to…
  • How to make more money VS How to make more money in 2015

Being specific should be applied to all your copywriting projects, but let’s save that for another post.

Here’s more contrasting examples of general VS specific headlines to get you going:

  • Get a FREE traffic report for signing up VS Learn how I increased traffic 237% in less than a month by subscribing
  • Learn how to lose weight today VS Learn how to lose 7 pounds in 7 days

#4. Useful

A useful headline is one with a benefit in it.

And a benefit is the reward your reader gets for reading your copy.

For example:

  • How to earn more money in less time
  • How to wake up earlier and get more done

What are the benefits?

In the first case its getting more money in less time. And in the second it’s getting up earlier and getting more done.

The key to choosing the right benefits is making sure your readers are interested in it.

For example:

  • What problems do they need solved?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What do they value? Saving money? Saving time?

The answers you come up with are perfect headline material.

Putting it all together

When you’re ready to finalize your headline, run it through each U.

  1. Is it urgent?
  2. Is it unique?
  3. Is it ultra-specific?
  4. Is it useful?

Rank it from 1-4 in each category. What you should be aiming for is around rank 3 for at least 3 categories (just remember – 3×3).

Over to you

Want a free headline critique? Shoot me an email and I’d love help you out. I look forward to talking with you.



Image via PicJumbo

Posted in Blog Post Writing, Copywriting

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