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The Four U Formula to Writing Intriguing Headlines

The Four U Formula to Writing Intriguing Headlines

It’s no secret that nearly 80% of people who stumble upon your words will never get past the headline.

People are busy and are constantly in a state of information overload. Rather than read every email, sales letter, blog post, and article they come across, they quickly scan headlines to see whether what you’ve written is worthy of their time and attention.

In order to keep them reading, you have to first pique their interest with an intriguing, benefit-laden headline.

And as you might imagine, this is easier said than done.

But the “Four U” copywriting formula can help. So next time you write a headline, consider these four qualities:

Urgent: Urgency gives the reader a reason to act now rather than later. This is critical because if they don’t get to your article, blog post, or sales letter right away, your reader will most likely forget about it altogether.

The easiest way to suggest urgency is to incorporate a time element in your headline. For instance, “Make $100,000 Writing Articles From Home This Year,” is more urgent than “Make $100,000 Working From Home.”

Unique: A powerful headline should suggest that what it’s offering is in some way different from everything else of its type.

So, this means your headline should either say something new, or say something that’s been said before in a fresh and exciting way.

What’s more, all claims made in your headline should be uniquely associated with your product or service (not anyone else’s).

As an example, the headline, “Earn 100,000 Air Miles in 3 Months Using This Simple Trick” is unique because it’s talking about a specific trick which will be described in the body copy. “Earn Extra Air Miles Using Credit Cards” is not because it could be talking about almost anything and doesn’t describe anything unique or specific.

Creating a unique headline is more important than ever in the age of the Internet, because people are always searching for something new and don’t want to read what they feel they’ve heard before.

Ultra-specific: The more specific your headline, the more believable it will be–and the more likely your headline will encourage your reader to continue reading.

The headline, “Free White Paper,” is vague and won’t create much interest, despite something being offered at no cost. But saying, “Free White Paper on How to Take Better Indoor Digital Photographs” will presumably attract a lot of photographers.

The more specific you can be in your headline, the better.

Useful: Adding usefulness to a headline means offering a benefit to the reader. What will she get out of reading your article?

The headline, “How to Lose Weight Exercising in Less Than 15 Minutes a Day,” offers the clear benefit of knowledge–as in once the reader finishes the article, she will suddenly know how to lose weight by exercising in under 15 minutes a day.

Be clear about the benefit you’re offering and never try and trick or mislead your reader by offering a benefit in the headline but then talking about something else completely in the body copy.

What to do next

Once you’ve written your headline, go through each of the characteristics and ask yourself how strong it is in each of the four U’s. Use a scale of 1 to 4 (1 = weak, 4 = strong). Categorizing at.5 is also acceptable.

Ideally, your headline should rank at a 3 or 4 on a minimum of 3 of the four U’s. If not, your headline isn’t near as strong as it could be, and could benefit from some rewriting.

Use the Four U formula in email subject lines, sales letters, blog posts, articles, advertisements, and more to create powerful copy that grabs your prospect in and keeps her reading.