Copywriting for Beginners Part 2 of 3: Headlines & Openers | Alan Sharpe | Skillshare

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Copywriting for Beginners Part 2 of 3: Headlines & Openers

teacher avatar Alan Sharpe, Copywriting Instructor

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

17 Lessons (1h 6m)
    • 1. About this Class

    • 2. Your Headline Must do Only Two Things

    • 3. How to Brainstorm Headline Ideas

    • 4. Headline Writing Tips 1, 2, 3

    • 5. Headline Writing Tips 4, 5, 6

    • 6. Headline Writing Tips 7, 8, 9

    • 7. Boost Email Open Rates with a Colon in Your Subject Line

    • 8. Write Good Negative Headlines

    • 9. Think Like a Search Engine to Write Better Headlines

    • 10. Google Text Ad Headline Writing Do's and Dont's

    • 11. How to Write a Google Text Ad Headline

    • 12. Keep them Hooked with a Great First Line

    • 13. Open with a Provocative Question

    • 14. Start with a Story

    • 15. Start with a Zinger

    • 16. Start with an Arresting Fact

    • 17. Start at the Beginning

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About This Class

The most important skill in copywriting is the ability to grab attention.

You might have the best product or service in the world, and your promotional copy might be amazing, but if no one stops to read your headline, no one will stop to read your copy.

Welcome to The Copywriting Course for Beginners, Part Two of Three: Headlines and Opening Lines.

About Me

I'm your instructor, Alan Sharpe. I got started as a copywriter in 1989. In the years since then, I've worked as a freelancer and as an in-house copywriter at an ad agency.

I have written in all of the channels—offline, online, outdoor, mobile and broadcast. I have written print ads, radio commercials, email newsletters, sales letters, banner ads, product packaging, brochures, factsheets, case studies, slogans and plenty more for Apple, IBM, Bell, Re/Max, Hilton Hotels and hundreds of other clients worldwide.

I got married, bought a house, and raised two kids on my copywriting salary alone.

In case you're wondering, I've been teaching copywriting since 1995.

About the Course

This course teaches you how to do the toughest thing in copywriting—grab and keep attention. I teach you the tips and tricks I've learned in over 30 years of writing headlines and opening lines. At the end of this course, you will know how to write headlines that grab attention. And you'll know how to write opening lines that keep attention.

Course Structure

This course is divided into two sections.

Section one is all about headlines. You'll learn the two things that every headline you write must accomplish. I'll show you an original way to brainstorm headline ideas that are creative and original. You'll learn nine ways to write headlines that stand out and grab attention. We'll cover how to write offline headlines, online headlines, email headlines, and Google text ad headlines.

Section two is all about opening lines.

You'll discover why your opening lines is the most important line in copywriting, after your headline. We'll look at the many creative ways you can start your body copy. And I'll share with you the unique challenge I face in writing opening lines.

Real-World Experience

This course is filled with practical, step-by-step advice, tools, tips and tricks that I've learned over the years as a professional copywriter. I use dozens of examples from the real world of copywriting—both offline and online—to teach you to art of writing effective headlines and opening lines.

Ideal Student

I designed this course for copywriters who want to be original, who want to avoid the many boilerplate, lame and formulaic ways of writing headlines and opening lines. If you need to write compelling headline.

Meet Your Teacher

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Alan Sharpe

Copywriting Instructor


Are you reading my bio because you want to improve your copywriting? Bonus. That makes two of us.

Are you looking for a copywriting coach who has written for Fortune 500 accounts (Apple, IBM, Hilton Hotels, Bell)? Check.

Do you want your copywriting instructor to have experience writing in multiple channels (print, online, direct mail, radio, television, outdoor, packaging, branding)? Groovy.

If you had your way, would your copy coach also be a guy who has allergic reactions to exclamation marks, who thinks honesty in advertising is not an oxymoron, and who believes the most important person in this paragraph is you? 

Take my courses.

I'm Alan Sharpe. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I'm a 30-year veteran copywriter who has been teaching pe... See full profile

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1. About this Class: The most valuable skill in copywriting is the ability to grab attention. You might have the best product or service in the world. And your promotional copy might be absolutely off the charts. Amazing. But if no one stops to read your headline, no one will stop to read your copy. Welcome to copywriting for beginners, part two of three. I'm your instructor, Alan sharp. I got started as a copywriter in 1989. In the year since then I've worked as a freelancer and I've also worked in-house as a copywriter at an ad agency. I've written in all the channels offline online, mobile broadcast. I've written print ads, radio commercials, email newsletters, sales letters, banner ads, product packaging, brochures, fact sheets, case studies, slogans and plenty more. I've written for Apple, IBM, Bell, Hilton Hotels, hundreds of clients worldwide. I even got married. I bought a house and I raised two boys all on a copywriting salary. In case you're wondering, I've been teaching copywriting since 1995. This course teaches you how to do the toughest thing in copywriting, and that is to grab and keep attention. I teach you the tips and tricks that I've learned in over 30 years of writing headlines and opening lines. At the end of this course, you will know how to write headlines that grab attention. And you'll know how to write opening lines that keep attention. This course is divided into two sections. Section one is all about headlines. You'll learn the two things that every headline you write must accomplish. I'll show you an original way to brainstorm headline ideas that are creative and original. You'll learn nine ways to write headlines that stand out and grab attention. We'll cover how to write offline headlines, online headlines, email headlines, and Google text ad headlines. Section two is all about opening lines. You'll discover what your opening line is, the most important line in copywriting. After your headline will look at the many creative ways that you can start your body copy. And I'll share with you the unique challenges that I face in writing opening lines. It's kind of humorous. This course is filled with practical step-by-step advice, tools, tips, and tricks that I've learned over the years. As a professional copywriter, I used dozens and dozens of examples from the real world of copyrighting, both offline and online to teach you the art of writing effective headlines and opening lines. I designed this course for copywriters who want to be original. Copywriters who want to avoid the many boilerplate, lame and formulaic ways of writing headlines. An opening lines that they read about online. If you need to write compelling headlines and original opening lines for a living, then this course is for you. 2. Your Headline Must do Only Two Things: Years ago when I was a business to business copywriter, I was on a flight. Sitting next to me was a businessman who worked in the high-tech sector. During our flight, he began reading a trade publication that I recognized. I recognized it because I had recently written a full-page ad for one of my clients. I was certain that my ad was appearing in that very issue of that trade publication. I sat there on the plane waiting as my neighbor flip through his magazine. And that was the problem. He flipped through it page after page. Hey, she's simply flipped, Flip flipped, looking for something that would catch his eye and engage his interests. He never saw my ad and he never read my coffee. And I learned the lesson that day. Every a headline I write has just two jobs to do. An only two jobs, stop the reader and compel the reader. That's it. Every headline you write has to interrupt someone and get them to pay attention to you. And then it has to persuade them to keep on reading. If you do a search online for tips on writing headlines, you'll find plenty of advice on how to write headlines that grab attention. Use the word free in your headline, for example, or use the word new in your headline. And that is good advice, but it misses the point if all you do is grab attention. The whole point of a headline is to stop people long enough that they read the rest of your copy. It's not enough just to hook people or get their attention. You have to intrigue them, tease them, or compelled them to keep on reading. The easiest way to do this is to write your headline in two parts. Let me show you how it's done. Imagine you're writing a slider app for the iPad Pro. The slider add is a top of the homepage of the Apple website. And as you can see, the slider changes very quickly. You only have a few seconds to grab your reader's interests before your ad disappears. So what should you write that will stop your reader and pique their curiosity. Ipad Pro. Anything you can do, you can do better. Notice that this headline is in two parts. Ipad Pro is part a. And the phrase, anything you can do, you can do better is Part B. Part a is designed to grab your attention. Part B is designed to get you to read on by clicking the Add. This slider add is aimed at visitors to the Apple website who are interested in buying an iPad. So part a of the headline grabs their attention by putting the product name first. Then part B of the headline gives them a reason to click. It promises a benefits. Anything you can do, you can do better. This line is a throwback to a famous song in the movie, Annie, Get Your Gun. In the movie, The Great sharpshooter any, Oakley has an argument with her rival, Frank Butler. Can do, I can do better. I could do anything better than you. Apple takes this famous line from this famous song and has a bit of fun with it. They change one word in it so that the headline is all about the prospective customer. Anything you can do, you can do better. Part a of the headline fledging down because you're looking for an iPad. And part B of the headline arouses your curiosity because it promises a benefit, but doesn't tell you what the benefit is. So how can the iPad Pro help somebody do something better? I have to click on the Add To find out. Now if I was writing this headline, I would write it a little differently than the folks at Apple did. If you click on the Add, it takes you to the iPad page on the website. And if you look at the top of the page, you discover that the iPad Pro that they're advertising is new. But that's something that the headline in the slider add doesn't tell you. I would. If I was writing the headline, I'd add two simple words. Instead of simply saying iPad Pro, I'd say the new iPad Pro or introducing the new iPad Pro. While we're at it. Here's another tip. If you divide your headlines into two parts like this, try switching the two parts around and see what you get. In this case, the headline would read anything you can do, you can do better introducing the new iPad Pro. And this brings me to my final point. If you want to write effective headlines, One of the best places to look is successful ads and successful sales collateral. Find a brand that you admire and examine their headlines. Reverse engineer their headlines so that you understand why they are effective. The secrets are writing good headlines isn't to follow a formula. It's creativity. 3. How to Brainstorm Headline Ideas: Writing headlines is one of the hardest things that you do as a copywriter. That's because the headline is so important. You can have a terrific product and you can have terrific copy describing that product. But unless you have a terrific headline, no one is going to read your copy and no one is going to learn about your product. If you search for advice on how to write great headlines, you'll find thousands of articles that give you 21 foolproof ways to write a headline or Fifty Ways to suck buyers in with your headline. The problem with these articles is that they are all formulaic. They say you should use the word new or the word introducing or the word you in your headlines. But if you read the headlines of the most famous ads of all time, you'll discover that none of them followed a formula. But what they all did was find a unique feature of the product or, or a unique insight into the potential buyer. And they put that into their headline in a unique, often clever way. So how do you do that? By free associating? Free association is a mental process by which one word or image spontaneously suggests another word or an apparent connection. Here's how you do it. Let's use the new iPad Pro for this exercise. Pretend you are writing a headline for the webpage that promotes this new tablet. Start with a simple table in Microsoft Word. In the first column, list the features of the iPad Pro. Let's see. It's new. It has the world's most advanced display. It's more powerful than the most powerful laptops. It's flat. It's light. It's portable. You touch the screen with your fingers. Let's see. You look at it. It talks to you. You can write on it with the Apple pencil. You can sketch on it. And if you're an artist, you can draw. Now in the next column in your table, start free associating with the words in the first column. So for example, it's light. Start free associating about that. That reminds me of the song, he ain't heavy, he's my brother. So you can have the large iPad Pro on the left and you can have the smaller iPad Pro and the right. And you could write a headline that said something like, he ain't heavy. He's my brother, was just like the iPad Pro is also flat, so free associate on that, go flat out, fall down flat. These are kind of colloquial expressions I think of when I think of the word flat, flat as a pancake, Flat Earth Society might use that might not. Okay, so here's a headline idea. The iPad Pro, flat out better. You operate the iPad Pro with your fingers and it has a large display. So let's free associate about that idea. Display, screen, silver screen, screen door. You screen candidates for a job. Something is on display. You display your talents. Sometimes you'll see a headline now on display or display room. Thinking, let your fingers do the walking. Give it the finger. Let's see, this display is bigger and it's larger. It's wider, has a larger surface. That reminds me. Microsoft has a competing tablet called the surface. Perhaps we can have some fun with that idea. The iPad Pro, find out what lurks beneath the surface. Okay, So that's a lame headline, but write it down anyway. Your goal is to write down every word, every phrase, every colloquial expression, every cliche you can think of that is associated with any aspect of the Apple iPad Pro. Don't judge any idea, just write it down and put it into your table. You can also add another column to the right. And in that column, brainstorm ways to describe the buyers of the iPad Pro. For example, artists, business person counts in photographer, videographer, student, college students. Hey, there's an idea. You have a picture of a college student lying on her bed and her dorm room at college, and she's holding the iPad Pro like this and she's studying. And the headline says study flat out for your exams. You get the idea. None of these headlines that we just came up with follow a formula. They, instead, they all say something new about the iPad Pro in a clever way. If there's one rule that you should follow whenever possible, it's that you should always try to include a compelling benefit in your headline. Customers don't buy features. They buy benefits. So put a compelling benefit in your headline and you'll immediately increase the likelihood that a prospective customer will stop and read your copy. 4. Headline Writing Tips 1, 2, 3: When it comes to writing headlines, I'm not a believer in formulas. I believe that being creative and being original works better than following some rules or formulas. But all creativity and all originality springs from somewhere. And that somewhere is usually an existing idea in your mind. So here are some ways to get you thinking creatively about your headlines. First of all, attract prospects with your headline. Your headline as a flag to attract readers who are interested in your product if you're selling a solution to premature hair loss, for example, put the phrase premature hair loss in your headline. Your headline will catch the eye of everyone who suffers from this predicament. If you want teenagers to read your ad, then put the word teenagers in your headline. Just be careful that you don't put anything in your ad that excludes prospects. For example, if you're selling a cell phone that can be used by men and women alike, equally, do not slant your headline or your visual toward men alone. That will only cause women to think that your ad doesn't apply to them when it does appeal to your readers self-interests. With your headline. Make every headline you write appeal to the interests of your prospects and not of the company that is selling the product. For example, instead of saying, spiritual will cure your headache, say got a headache, cure it with spiritual. Replace the brand with the buyer, replaced the company with the customer. Begin your headlines with you, rather than we, the company, sell your product in your headline. David Ogilvy and advertising pioneer of the 1960s and 70s, says that on average, five times as many people read your headline as read your copy. So it follows that unless your headlines sells your product, you've wasted 90% of your money. So you should do some selling with your headline. But this is a rule that can be broken successfully. You just have to be more creative than David Ogilvy. No pressure. 5. Headline Writing Tips 4, 5, 6: Your headline is one of the most important parts of your copy. So here are three ideas on how to write effective headlines. Include your selling promise. In your headline. The best headlines promise readers a benefits such as fewer cavities, cheaper gas, whiter, close. You're selling promise is simply the greatest benefit that you are advertising about your product or service. So include it. Headline. This often makes for longer headlines, but don't worry. People read long headlines as long as they promise of benefits. Complement and intriguing visual, and are part of an attractive add design. Here's an example of what I mean. Notice how the headline in this ad promises a benefit, works with the visual and is part of an attractive design. Don't shy away from long headlines. A headline is only too long when it uses one word more than is necessary to communicate its message. Name, what you're advertising in your headline. If the headline is all that your prospects read, then at least tell them the name of what you're selling. If the name sticks, your ad will at least have made readers familiar with your product. And that is a vital role in advertising. Keeping your product's name at the top of your consumer's mind or your prospect's mind. Avoid award winning cleverness. In your headlines. Puns and cliches and literary allusions may be clever to you, but they don't necessarily sell your product or your service online and offline, your headline competes with hundreds of other headlines for your reader's attention. Readers skim through these headlines really quickly. They don't stop long to decipher obscure headlines. Clever headlines, while they may win trophies at award shows, often serve to draw attention to themselves and not to the product. So don't write clever headlines. Just to be clever, right? Clever headlines to sell more. 6. Headline Writing Tips 7, 8, 9: Writing headlines is tough, isn't it? I've spent hours in front of my computer in agony, tried to write one decent headline that my client would like. Sometimes I needed some creative inspiration to get my brain kickstarted. Your three ways to kind of inspire yourself. Avoid the word if in your headlines, be declarative. In your headlines. Avoid conditional phrases such as, if you buy this high-efficiency furnace, you'll save money on your electric bill, or you can enjoy two weeks at Disney with trends at holidays. Conditional phrases drain the power from your headlines. So do these three things. Instead. Put your prospect right into your headline. Assume that your prospect has the need that you're addressing and speak as though the prospect is already satisfied with your product. For example, watch your electric bill shrink with this high-efficiency furnace or enjoy two weeks at Disney with transact holidays. Say things in the present tense in your headlines, but vigor and drama into your headlines by saying things in the present tense instead of in the past tense or the future tense. The present tense is stronger and more immediate than the past tense. I saved $100 thousand with my Midland mortgage is weaker than saying I'm saving $100 with my Midland mortgage. The present tense is stronger than the future tense. Dell computers will make you more productive, is weaker than Dell computers. Make you more productive. Make your headlines, work with your visual, not the body copy. Make your headline till one part of the story and have your visual till the other part. Don't use a headline to repeat what the visual is already saying and don't simply illustrate the headline. Instead, let your headline and your visual work together. Here's an example. It's a print ad for the Apple iPhone 4. Notice that the headline makes no sense without the visual. The headline and the visual work together. By the way, avoid blind headlines that make no sense unless the reader read the body copy underneath them. The majority of readers only read headlines. So don't be cryptic in your headlines. Don't assume your reader will understand your headline once they read your body copy. Because if they don't understand your headline, they won't read your body copy. 7. Boost Email Open Rates with a Colon in Your Subject Line: Please forgive me for being so candid, but I'd like to talk to you about the subject of your colon. The colon in your email subject line. That is one of the most effective ways to boost your e-mail marketing open rates is to improve your subject line. The more relevant your subject line is to your customers, the more likely they are to open your email or to read your ad. Since you have a limited amount of real estate in your subject line, it's around 40 characters. The easiest way to boost the relevance of your subject line is to put your keywords or hot buttons at the front of your subject line, followed by the, the explanatory phrase with a colon in the middle. That probably sounds complicated. So here's what I mean. Your customers read your email subject lines from the left and they move to the right. So your goal with busy readers whose fingers are poised over the delete button at any moment to grab their attention with the first few words in your subjects. That's where your colon comes in. Your colon separates your attention grabbing keywords from the explanatory copy. Let me give you an example. I used to write email marketing letters for a living. My target audience was marketing managers who use email to sell their products and services and to cultivate sales leads. When these folks go online and search for help with their e-mail marketing, they type these types of keywords into Google. Email marketing course. Mortgaged lead, email marketing, targeted email marketing. What these three search phrases have in common is the phrase email marketing. So to make my e-mail cells that are relevant to any of these three groups. I put email marketing at the beginning of my subject line and not at the end or, or in the middle. Then to show that my message is relevant to each audience. I also put the next most important keyword near the front of the subject line as well. For example, if I'm offering a course on email marketing to real estate agents, I don't say enroll in our course for real estate agents on email marketing. Because that puts the keywords email marketing at the end of the subject line. Instead I use my trusty colon and I say email marketing course for real estate agents, enroll. Now. If I'm writing an e-mail sales letter to mortgage brokers, offering them help with generating leads with email. I don't write a subject line that says ten mistakes to avoid in mortgage, lead email marketing. Because e-mail marketing, the keywords go run at the end. Instead I write mortgage lead email marketing ten mistakes to avoid. Test this idea yourself with your next email blast and see what happens. By the way, this tactic works just as well with print advertising headlines, brochure headlines, and online headlines. 8. Write Good Negative Headlines: The most powerful headline I ever read and acted upon was a negative headline. And it changed my life. Yet most books on copywriting tell you to cast your headlines over lines and subheads in the positive. But sometimes being negative is positively good for business or to say it another way, negative headlines in your copy are not always bad. The headline that changed my life appeared in a small display ad in The Daily Mirror, which is a British daily newspaper. Here's what it said. No pleasure cruises in the Royal Marines. That's a negative headline. No question. The copywriter wasted no time turning a negative into a positive. In fact, the copywriter turned a positive into a negative. Beneath the headline was a photo of several armed Royal Marines crouching in a rigid rater assault boat, pounding over the waves towards a nasty landing on some enemy beach. Beneath the photo was this simple body copy. Some of the toughest training in the world. That's what makes Royal Marines Commandos ready for anything. If you think you've got the determination and you're over 16, here's your chance to find out more by sending off the coupon. No pleasure cruises in the Royal Marines. When I read that negative headline for the first time, I was slouching at the back of mathematics class at boarding school, reading the comic strips in the newspaper. The year was 1976. I had just turned 16 and my Oxford and Cambridge O Level exams and certain defeat waited just a couple of weeks away. And I read that negative headline. Again. I studied the photograph, I read the body copy and I mailed off the coupon. And that night, the information package arrived within the week. Nine months later, I was P0 35 for 400 s junior Marin Sharp ban adding dummies with gusto and throwing up my lunch during nine mile speed marches. 18 months later, I was dodging bullets and bombs in Northern Ireland. Five years later, I was photographing penguins in Antarctica on a trip to the Falcon Islands. 10 years later, 13 countries later for promotions later numerous fights and the Falcons war later, I was a civilian again, that headline would not have worked for me if the copywriter had cast it in a positive way by promising what I would not get and by telling me what I should not look forward to, he won me over. So here's my advice. Don't turn every negative into a positive. Instead, every once in a while, turn a positive into a negative. See what happens. 9. Think Like a Search Engine to Write Better Headlines: You can lose a potential buyer quicker than you think. You only have a few seconds to get and keep the person's attention with your advertising and marketing copy. Your primary goal at the beginning of your copy is to demonstrate relevance. You must prove and quickly that what you have to say is relevant to your reader. That's why I recommend you write your copy as though it's appearing on page one of Google search results page. Your potential customers think in terms of problems, not products. A teenager with acne, for example, doesn't boot up Google and type in Accutane. She types how to get rid of acne or acne medication or cheapest acne treatment. So think of the keywords that a prospect types into Google when looking for information about the problem that your product or service solves, your copy needs to have those keyword phrases, not the name of your company or what you're selling at the top of your promotional piece. You don't demonstrate relevance by promoting yourself or your brand. You demonstrate relevance by showing prospects that you understand their problem. And you do that by talking about their problem in the same language that they use. So how do you know which keywords to use in your copy to visitors? Google. Type in the top keywords associated with your product or your service, and click the Search button. Now pay attention to the hits that appear on page one. These websites are ranked in order of relevance. The most relevant sites appear on page one starting from the top. Let me give you an example. Imagine that your client is a manufacturer of kitchen countertops. Your client wants to launch an online ad campaign that targets homeowners who wants to replace their kitchen countertops. So where do you start? You start with your potential buyer and the problem they are trying to solve. How do you discover their problem? You act like a search engine. Go to Google and search for kitchen countertops. The first four results that you can see are paid advertisements. The next three results are businesses that have Google for business accounts. They appear on the map and a snippet from the Google Plus page is featured in the search results. Next come the organic search results. The top results, as you can see, our big-box home improvement stores and specialty retailers, ikea, home depot, Kw countertop lows and Ronan. Click on the link for the Home Depot. You arrive at the company's page for kitchen countertops. And notice that the phrase kitchen countertops is in the page title, the page URL, the breadcrumb navigation, the heading, the subhead and the body company. Now go back to the subhead, reinvent your kitchen with sleek new countertops. There's your potential buyers problem captured in a call to action, reinvent the kitchen. Now read the first paragraph carefully and note every problem that your potential buyer wants to solve. A new countertop instantly updates the look of your kitchen and adds value to your home. Every kitchen countertop professionally installed by the Home Depot is beautifully designed to suit your lifestyle and budget. Leave it to our experts to help you choose and install this tasteful addition to your kitchen. So all you have to do is enjoy it. The next paragraph discusses options including quality, finished color, and texture. Scroll down the page and you discover that kitchen countertops come in many materials including granite, sandstone, and laminate. You will agree that this page is highly relevant to anyone who is looking to replace their kitchen countertop. That's because the copywriter who wrote this page was thinking like a search engine. The copywriter discovered the questions that potential customers typed into Google when looking for a new countertop, these questions include, what is the best material to use for a kitchen countertop? How much does it cost to put in granite countertops? How do I change my kitchen countertop? How do you install countertops? The copywriter then captured these ideas in the headlines and body copy and did so quickly. The copywriter made this page highly relevant to anyone looking to choose by and install a new kitchen countertop. If you want to write headlines and body copy that your potential buyers actually read and respond to with their business. Think like a search engine. Give your potential customers exactly what they are looking for. And you'll close more sales. 10. Google Text Ad Headline Writing Do's and Dont's: Writing headlines is one of the hardest jobs in copywriting. And writing headlines for Google text ads is one of the hardest. Google text ads are the ads that appear at the top and the bottom of Google search results. If you go to Google and type in kitchen countertops, for example, your search results will look something like this. There will be four text ads at the top of the page. These ads look just like search results, except they have the word ad in front of the website address. This tells you that this result is a paid ad and not an organic results. Following these paid ads, you have a map and three Google My Business results. These results are always businesses that are located near the person doing the search. Google knows the location of the computer doing the search and serves up the names and locations of local businesses that are targeting those search keywords. In this case, the phrase kitchen countertops. The businesses that appear in these results have a Google Plus page for their business and they have registered and authenticated their business with Google using Google's Google My Business Service. Scroll down and you see the organic search results. These webpages appear in the search results because Google thinks they are relevant to the search query. Google uses a complex algorithm to decide what is relevant and what isn't. If you scroll to the very bottom, you'll find more paid text ads. This is where your Google text ad will appear, either here at the bottom or as we've just seen at the top. So why is writing google text ads so difficult? Well, first of all, it, you have massive immediate competition. In the offline world, your competition is spread out in a magazine, for example, your full-page ad will compete with other ads in the magazine, but those ads will be on other pages and then will be for different products and services. Then your butt online in Google search results, your competitors all appear on the same page and they all advertise the same thing that you advertise. Getting your ad to stand out amongst this competition is tough. Secondly, you are limited by a character counts. Look at the headlines of the Google text ads, and you'll see that each headline comes in two parts. Google gives you 30 characters for the first part and 30 characters for the second part divided in the middle by a hyphen that Google supplies. This means that your headline is just limited to 60 characters. And these characters will be interrupted in the middle by an ugly and inconvenient hyphen. Third, by definition, text ads do not feature any images only text. Writing headlines is a lot easier when you have an image to work with a strong headline. Paired with a strong image makes for a strong AD. When all you have to work with is just words, your job is harder forth. You are constrained by keywords. For your text to appear in Google searches, you must tell Google the keywords you're targeting. And these key words must appear in your headline. You can't just write any headline you want. At least 1 third of the words in your headline are already spoken for not mix your job harder or easier, depending how you look at it. Let's look at some do's and don'ts for writing google text ads. We'll start with the do's. Number one. Do include your keywords in your headline. The keywords that potential buyers type into Google must appear in your headline. Look at the headlines in these florets. Kitchen countertop, custom kitchen countertops, kitchen countertop, custom countertop. Three out of the four ads target the exact keyword phrase, kitchen countertop. Number two. Do put your keywords at the front of your headline. As you can see, all four of these advertisers put the keyword phrases that they're targeting at the front of their headlines. This is vital because potential buyers are searching for something specific. You need to show them in the first few words of your headline that you have what your buyer is searching for. Number three, do include a benefit. Tell your potential buyer how you help them, give them a reason to click your ad instead of one of those other competing ads. Look at these four headlines again. First, that kitchen countertop, professional services. That's a feature, not a benefit. Second, add custom kitchen countertops, granite, marble courts and more. This is a little better. This headline hints that the advertiser has a wide selection of materials, but again, listing the types of materials is a feature, not a benefit. Third, add kitchen countertop, one day installations. New stone thought CA now there's a benefit, speedy service, minimal disruption to the homeowner. Forth ad, custom countertop, give your home a fresh new look. This is a benefit, but isn't benefit that every manufacturer offers. So it's not unique, but at least it's a benefit. Now let's look at some don'ts. Number one, don't put your website address in your headline. Look at that third out again. The headline says kitchen countertops, one day installations, new stone dossier. Putting your website address in your headline is redundant for two reasons. One, the address already appears in the ad just after the headline. And second, text ads, by definition are designed to be clicked on, you don't have to tell your buyer where they're going ahead. All you have to do is have them click on your ad. This brings me to number two. Don't waste your character count. Remember, you only have 60 characters to work with. So don't waste those characters telling your potential buyers something they don't need to know. Instead, use every character you have to give the reader a reason to click your ad, give them benefits, benefits, benefits. Finally, don't number three, don't put your company name or your brand name in your headline unless that is what your prospects are searching for. For example, as you can see from the bottom of this page of search results, some people search for kitchen countertops, ikea. Other people search for Rona, countertops and Home Hardware countertops, Rona and Home Hardware, our big-box home improvement retailers in Canada. Some buyers search for company names and brands by name, but most don't. Most potential buyers are not looking for a brand. They're looking for a solution. So don't include your brand name or company name in your headline if you don't need to put a benefit there instead. So those are the do's and don'ts of writing google text ad headlines, follow these tips and you'll immediately improve your online ad results. 11. How to Write a Google Text Ad Headline: If you want to write great Google text ad headlines, you need to understand the fundamental difference between offline advertising and Google advertising. Offline advertising is based on the principle of interruption. Your potential buyer is going about her daily business and you're at interrupts her. Your ad might be a billboard and might be a subway ad, it might be a radio commercial, it might even be an ad in a magazine. Either way, your potential buyer is not looking for you. You are looking for her. She's not out. And about looking for a great headline to read. Any headline she sees during a day isn't interruption. Google texts advertising, on the other hand, is based on the principle of fulfillment. Your potential buyers online searching for a product or a service. The goal of your Google textiles to give that potential buyer what he is searching for. He is searching for you. Google text ads are the ads that appear at the top and the bottom of Google search results. If you go to Google and type in kitchen countertops, for example, your search results will look something like this. There will be four text ads at the top of the page. These ads look just like search results, except they had the word ad in front of the website address. This tells you that the result is a paid ad, not an organic search results. If you write a text that it will appear in search results like this, surrounded by competing ads, all targeting your potential buyer, but the same product or service. If you want your ad to stand out from all the others, remember this simple rule. Give your buyers what they're searching for. Remember your ad is targeting people who are online searching for a solution to a problem. So give them the solution they are searching for. You do this with their keywords and your benefit. In other words, you write headlines and include the keywords that your potential buyers are using and you include the primary benefit that you offer. Google gives you 60 characters to work with, divided into, with a hyphen 30 characters on the left. At 30 characters on the right. The easiest way to write effective text ads is to put the buyers keywords before the hyphen and your primary benefit after the hyphen. Let me show you what I mean by showing you four examples of lame text ads. When I search for the phrase kitchen countertop. These are the four text ads that appear at the top of the Google search results. Look at the headlines. Kitchen countertop, professional services, custom kitchen countertops, granite marble courts and more. Kitchen countertop. One day installations, new stone dossier and custom countertop, give your home fresh new look. On these four text ad headlines. Only one of them offers an explicit benefit. That's add number three. This company offers one day installations. Homeowners appreciate that an installation that takes only one day means the least amount of fuss and disruption for them. The benefit of one day installation is speed and convenience. So that's actually two benefits. Let me show you how to write an effective text ad by rewriting the headline in the first ad. It's a lame headline. No question. Yes, it includes the keywords in the headline than they are at the front of the headline where they should be. But the second part of the headline says nothing. What does professional services mean? Exactly? In what way is this of benefit to a potential buyer? It's not. This headline needs a benefit. It needs a compelling reason for any potential buyer to click on it. But the advertiser is not giving you one. If this advertiser was your client, the first thing you do is visit their website. What you're looking for is a unique benefit that they offer. What do you find? Quality and service you can trust? You can scroll down and you don't find anything any better. So scroll over to the right and look at the last item in the navigation bar, the About Us. Maybe you'll find something there. You get more of the same quality and service you can trust. First paragraph, since our inception in 1999, we have built our reputation on the quality of the products we fabricate, blah, blah, blah, blah. So skip that, go down to the subhead. What makes our company unique from other companies? Uh, ha, and it looks like you're onto something here, here in a numbered list. The client names, the six things that make them unique from other kitchen countertop suppliers. Ah, bingo, I hope. Number one, we take the time to listen. Sorry, that's not unique. Number 2, we provide professional installation services. Okay. We're getting closer. You think about it. There's such a ridiculous thing to say that our services are installation services are professional as opposed to our competitors whose services are unprofessional. It's ridiculous to say We offer professional anything really. But they've mentioned that they do installations. Not all countertop manufacturers provide installation services, but all retailers do, and most most dealers do. So this is not unique. Number 3, we stand by the products we carry. Okay. I suppose they're they're talking about after-sales service, maybe their warranty, but again, too vague. Number 4, we deal with reputable companies are products are all backed up by the best warranties in the business, okay? Now we're on to something the best warranties in the business that is a unique benefit. I'll skip the remaining two benefits because they are just as lame as the others. So, so far we have one compelling benefit, best warranties in the business. Before we leave this page, let's take another quick look at the bla bla copy in the opening paragraph. So let's look at the second paragraph. Where are the largest form, a top cutting station in the Guelph, Waterloo, Cambridge, and surrounding areas. Okay, So this is a unique feature, not a unique benefit, but with a quick chat with the client, you and I could discover what the unique benefit is. So radon, many people find out that we are more competitively priced than the big bucks stores finally, last, a compelling benefits price. And this is an ironic because they say many people find out that we are more competitively priced than the big box stores. But I imagine that most people never find this out because you don't mention it in your ads. You don't mention that in your homepage and you bury it in the second paragraph of your about us page. So let's rewrite this advertisers text ad using what we have just learned. They offer the best manufacturer's warranties in the business. They have the largest cutting station in the region. They are cheaper than big box stores. It's open Microsoft Word. Type out 30 characters, then a hyphen, and then another 30 characters. Set your font to a monospaced font like career. Now you can start writing your headline and you'll see at a glance when you reach the 30-character limit. So start with the first part of the headline. Put the keywords that you are targeting in that phrase. So in this case, kitchen countertops, that's 19 characters. We still have 11 to work with. One of the benefits is price. So put that in the headline. Budget kitchen countertops as 26 characters. Now, right, the second part of the headline, you have 30 characters to work with. Let's stick with the same benefit. Let's write cheaper than big box stores. That's 27 characters. So the headline reads budget kitchen countertops, cheaper than big box stores for a total of 56 characters. Now you need to write some variations on this headline and show your client all of the possibilities. Then let your client pick the one that they want. So here they are. Kitchen countertops for less big box selection, cheaper kitchen countertop bargains. We beat big bookstore prices. Kitchen countertop bargains, we beat any big box price. Kitchen countertop deals pay less than big box prices. You get the idea. Compare any of these headlines with the original headline and you see the immediate improvement you make by adding a benefit to your headline. And remember, the easiest way to write effective Google text ads is to put the buyers keywords before the hyphen and your primary benefit after the iPhone. Just make sure that the benefit you are featuring is the most important feature and benefit that potential buyers are looking for. You may have to hunt around a bit to find that unique benefit just as we did. But when you find it, put it into your headline. But the keywords first, put the benefits second, watch what happens. 12. Keep them Hooked with a Great First Line: The first time I was shelled by enemy artillery, I learned the vital lesson that applies to your success in copywriting. I was lying in a slip trench on Mount wall. It's about 35 kilometers west of the town of Stanley in the Falkland Islands. The year was 1982, and it was the Falcons war, the Argentinian enemy. We're lobbing 105 millimeter howitzer shells around my position. They were trying to dislodge my section of Royal Marines Commandos, but their fire was ineffective. You see the soil in the Falcon Islands consists largely of peat and the soil is so dense, so wet, and so soft underfoot that it meant that the enemy's artillery shells penetrated the soil before they detonated. And most of their force and shot shrapnel when outwards rather than horizontally. When you want to leave a lasting impression on your target audience, you must use the right ammunition. If the Argentinians had used the right kind of artillery shells that day, the kind that exploded above the ground rather than in it. I would not be standing here today. So here's the principle applied in practice in the battle for the mind of your target audience, you must start your copy in such a way that you compel your prospects to rewrite on until the end and take action. You're opening sentence is the most vital sentence in your copy after your headline. And the goal of your headline is to stop your readers at, to compel them to continue reading. And the goal of the first line in your body copy is to keep your readers hooked. If you use the wrong ammunition here, your copy will misfire. Here are some ideas on how to start your copy. Well, start with a gripping story. Ask a provocative question. State a seeming contradiction or a paradox open with a scintillating and irrelevant. Quote, crack a joke. Start with the word you. The number one rule for all opening lines is to fire your largest cannon first. Grab your prospects attention so that they simply have to read on. 13. Open with a Provocative Question: One effective way to start your copy is to ask a provocative question. And by mean provocative, I mean a challenging question. Your aim is not to enrage your readers or to insult your readers, but to provoke them to think. Do this by asking a question that cannot be answered with a yes or a no. For example, don't ask a business owner, would you like to reduce your payroll costs by 30 percent? That's a dumb question because the answer to that question is obviously yes. Every business owner wants to reduce payroll costs. And if the answer to that question is no, your reader is likely to start reading right there anyway. So instead of asking the question in a way that can be answered yes or no, be provocative. Ask the question this way. What do you suppose is the easiest way to reduce your payroll costs by 30 percent? This question is more intriguing because the answer is not obvious. The question stimulates some curiosity, and the question implies that you're going to discover the answer to that question later in the copy. Here are some more examples of ways to ask your questions in a way that provokes curiosity. How much of your life savings would you like to leave in the hands of the federal government when you die? Or you overpaying your employees by four hours and five minutes each week. The American payroll Association says you probably are. Are they mistaken? Are you find out today? Can 1 third of the millionaires in America be wrong? I can't answer that for you, but I can send you three free issues of financial world, the investment magazine that they trust, respect, and use to make the most important decisions. Here's an extended example of how you can use a series of questions at the beginning of your copy to hook a potential buyer. How many times a day to your prospects and customers check their e-mail? Several times a day right? Now, how many times a day do those same people visit your website? Not many, right? So where does it make the most sense for your company to communicate with your prospects and customers in their email, inbox, or on your website. You know the answer. And of examples. Whenever possible, when you open with a question, ask something that raises curiosity and implies a benefit to follow. That way you'll encourage your readers to continue reading. Now then, you know a really powerful way to end a lesson like this. 14. Start with a Story: One way to get your reader's attention and to draw them into your promotional copy is to start your copy with an interesting anecdote or story. People like to read about people. Just thinking of the popularity of people magazine, supermarket tabloids and reality TV shows like Survivor and Shark Tank. People are fascinated with the rich, the famous than a notorious and the bazaar. If you decide to start your copy with a story, make sure it's a story that's relevant to your target audience and to what you are promoting. In other words, make sure you can lead directly from your opening story right into your copy. And the reason that you're writing to them. You have a number of goals when opening your copy with a story you want to grab your reader's attention. You went to a rousing enough curiosity that your reader is motivated to read on and you want to establish some rapport. This is especially vital when your copy is reaching cold prospects who don't know you. They don't know your organization and they don't know what you're promoting. And always remember to tie your opening with your reason for writing as quickly as possible. Here's an example of how to use a story to start your copy. It's from a sales letter that was mailed by a business consultant to prospective clients. Legend has it that two salesmen for the bata shoe company travel to Africa to uncover new markets. One of them cabled home, nobody wearing shoes, no market possibilities, returning home immediately. The other salesmen had a different reaction. Everybody barefoot, he informed head office tremendous sales opportunities. I'd like to meet with you to explore some tremendous opportunities for your firm. And the example. Here's another example from another sales letter. Henry Ford once hired an efficiency expert to examine the running of his company. The expert made a favorable report, but he had reservations about one employee. It's that man. The corridor he said Every time I walk by his office, he's just sitting there with his feet up on the desk. He's wasting your money. That man said Henry Ford once had an idea that saved us millions of dollars at the time, I believe his feet were planted right where they are right now. Henry Ford knew the value of research and development and soda you. That's why you should be reading Business Intelligence Weekly. End of example. Here's a final example. Birch for worker, was head of the Bell Telephone System in New York City during the 1920s. One cold January night after enjoying a Broadway show, Mister for worker left the theatre, walk to the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway, and climb down a manhole in his tuxedo. I know a couple of my cable slicers, we're working down there. He later recounted. So I just dropped in on them to have a little chat. The workers that Birch talked with that night were not quick to forget the incident and their job performance was never the same again, it was actually better. No wonder that Birch for worker, became known company wide as the man with a thousand friends. How can you are managers be like Birch for worker? How can you, by harnessing the power of coaching with our help? And of example. As you can see, starting your copy with a story is a great way to grab your reader's attention and arouse just enough curiosity that your reader is motivated to read on. I'm sure there's one last thing I had to say on this topic. Apparently not. 15. Start with a Zinger: One powerful way to start your copy is with a singer. A Zener is a one sentence saying that says a lot. It might be a quote. It might be a proverbial sang with a unique twist, or it might be an observation about the human condition that arouses curiosity about what is going to follow in your copy. The secret to using singers well, is to think of them as bait. That's because you are fishing for a sale and the Zener is the LWR on the end of your line, you want prospects to take your allure so that you can reel them in. Here are some rules to keep in mind when crafting a zener for your opening. Keep it short. If you're quoting someone, say who that someone is, uses singer that resonates with your target audience and with what they care about. Uses singer that ties in with the tone of your letter and match your singer with the age and background of your prospects. For example, don't quote Henry David Thoreau. If no one in your target audience has a clue who Henry David Thoreau is. Here are some examples of singers that I've used as the opening lines in my copy. Warren Buffet once said, only by something that you'd be perfectly happy to hold onto if the market shut down for 10 years. Someone once said You can't turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again. Thomas Edison once said the three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile. Our first hard work, second, stick-to-it-ness, and third, common sense. I will end this lesson with a quote from g do Krish number t. There is no end to education. The whole of life from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. The end. 16. Start with an Arresting Fact: Sometimes the most effective way to start your copy is to state a simple fact. But the secret is to state that simple fact in a compelling way. Facts on their own are rarely impressive, but a fact about your product or service, or a fact about the problem at your customer faces every day, can become impressive when you take the time to present that fact in a creative, unusual way. Here's an example. Your child could start learning a foreign language in as little time as it takes you to read this letter. All you need is Mozi, the astonishing breakthrough video language course for children ages two to 12 from the BBC, the world leaders in language education. Here's another example. Ceos of IT firms are usually alarmed to discover that 75 percent of IT salespeople are overpaid for the value they bring to their CEOs. The CEOs that partners with us, on the other hand, realize measurable, sustained sales results within weeks of retaining our services. That's because we specialize in helping IT firms grow revenues through sales strategy and marketing advisement, as well as IT sales staff training. Here's a final example. You already have a photographic memory. You have the talent and the ability to recall the names of 50 people you meet for the first time. All it takes to release your talent are some simple techniques, techniques that you can master in about three days. Facts on their own are rarely impressive. But a fact about your product or service, or a fact about the problem that your customer wants to solve can become impressive when you take the time to present that fact in a creative way. And that in itself is an interesting fact. 17. Start at the Beginning: Call me a dunce, but I can't write a single line of copy until I've written the first line. First, I can't follow the advice of the many copywriting gurus who suggest that I write the call to action first because that's the sentence that closes the sale or that I should write the ps first because everybody reads the ps before they read the opening line of a sales letter. I I can't start there. That's the last thing that I write. So writing for me is an agony. I can't begin anywhere else but at the beginning, which for me, the opening line of the copy. So it goes like this. I write the headline, then I hit the return key twice, and then I sit at my keyboard and I wait for inspiration. Or sometimes if sometimes I hunt for inspiration depending on how close my, my deadline is. So I get an idea, I craft the opening line, let's say is a question. Now, that sounds too pompous, so I hit Delete. I start with an anecdote that I'm taking too long and getting to the point soy, I backspace through that one. I find a great quote from Aristotle to obscure. So I, I quote mark Twain instead. It's funny. It's a great quote, but it's irrelevant in this case, so I delete it. So a head in another direction, I, I quote a statistics. It's, it's a real grabber. But I sound like I'm preaching. I'm not writing to a real living prospect. So I hit Delete again. I pick up a book, 3500 good jokes for speakers. I look for inspiration. I don't find anything. Hey, maybe I should try a colloquial approach. So I hunt through another book that I've got called Yiddish FISMA, Yiddish, Chuck, I find a great quote. The husband is the boss. If his wife allows. Now that's a great quote, but it's not relevant for the assignment that I'm on. So I, I searched through the fourth book of business quotations and I get sidetracked for over an hour because I find a great line from Henry Ford. And I end up reading every quotable thing that Henry Ford ever said. And none of those things are germane to my topic. And so it goes until I find a way to write my opening line. Only when I am confident that I've hooked my reader at the beginning, Do I have the courage to write the copy that will keep my reader hooked all the way to the end. I can't enjoy my trip until I know where I'm headed. Now, if only I knew how to end this lesson with a bang, I'd have it finished by now.