List headlines and Announcement headlines.
We’ve already had quite a few list style headlines in the previous sections.
List headlines are that pervasive… and that effective.
And now you get even more.
Plus, you get a fantastic set of announcement templates.
Announcements make incredibly powerful headlines and email subject lines.
At Intuit, our product announcements and monthly alerts consistently received 50% higher open rates and nearly double clickthrough rates than our regular promotional emails.
Bottom line: These headlines work.
Before we dive in, I have a something special for you.
I’ve built a headline worksheet for you.
It’s a little extra bonus to say thank you for signing up for this series. I love to share the same tools that I use every day. It helps make our jobs as marketers easier and more rewarding.
You get a headline worksheet contains all 55 templates from this series.
You just fill-in-the-blanks.
Boom! You’ve got a winning headline for your next article, email, blog post or social media blast.
List Headlines – Everyone Loves a List
Why do they work so well?
Well here’s the list. There are 7 reasons your readers crave list headlines and content:
- Order: A list gives them order in a world of chaos. Your audience is more grounded with a list. They can always count on a list as a tool to refocus them. It gets them back on track when life becomes unruly and out of control.
- Action: A list is actionable. Your readers love to start at the top of a list and check-off each item one at a time. Check. Check. Check. Done.
- Easy: A list is easily digestible. Your audience thinks in bullet points, not long prose.
- Comprehensive: A list offers everything your readers need in one spot. You’re delivering a complete and thorough set of information on a subject.
- New Ideas: A list promises to present all the possibilities and uncover new ideas. Your readers know a lot, but they wonder if there’s more they can learn.
- Saving: A list is worth keeping. Your readers like to clip, bookmark and save a list for reference later.
- Sharing: A list is the ultimate content to share. What your audience likes for themselves also makes for a great way to better connect with other like them. Their social desire kicks in. They will share. And their friends will re-share. Your list is the perfect viral content.
Those reasons are why lists are one of the headline cornerstones.
So let’s start with a quick exercise to unlock your list headline creativity.
EXERCISE: Refer back to the goals, accomplishments, skills, and qualities you noted in the earlier How-to Headlines segment.Now break down each of those items into lists of related items associated with the subject.
Create your own list of:
- Characteristics, attributes or features of the desired item
- Ways or steps of achieving success
- Resources or things needed to achieve success
Start small with 5 or 6 items at first. Then add more or break your first list into smaller (but still valuable) pieces.
9 Proven List Headline Templates
1. Top 10 Actions/Goals/Things
You see it in every form of media from TV to presentations to blog posts.
The Top 10 list has been around so long and is so popular that it has its own drawing power.
That’s in addition to the normal reasons why we love a good list.
As a result, it is possibly the single most effective headline template you can use.
You can use a Top 10 list for almost any subject.
Better yet, you can reuse it again and again without burning out your readers.
Pro Tip: Add a timeframe at the end of your Top 10 list. Bingo! You’ve just created a recap for the year, month or week. Or you can make a forward looking prediction that helps readers prepare for what’s ahead.Besides being widely popular, recaps and predictions are repeatable. You can train your audience to expect a Top 10 list on a regular schedule, which can increase your loyal repeat readers.
- Top 10 Restaurants in San Francisco
- Top 10 Hilarious Cat Videos on YouTube
- Top 10 Celebrity Meltdowns of 2015
- Top 10 Earnings Announcements Scheduled for March
2. # Steps to Action/Goal
This headline template is essentially the list style version of a how-to headline.
However, the list headline style can be a more effective than the generic how-to headline.
The one advantage the list headline has is the number of steps.
The number clearly sets a limit. It’s finite.
Your reader can quickly imagine the end result and what they have to do to achieve it.
Your headline promises that your how-to guidance is not an open-ended project that could take forever.
So they are less likely to skip over it or filter it out because it’s more than they can take on.
With that in mind, the number of steps you present should not be too many. Any number above 10 probably triggers the reader to think that this is more than they want to do.
So avoid headlines like “45 Steps to Setup Your New Computer.”
- 5 Steps to Change a Flat Tire Safely
- 3 Steps to Dress for a First Date
- 1 Simple Step Proven to Boost Sales
- 3 Quick Steps to Prepare For Your Next Business Trip
3. # Ways to Action/Goal
The last headline template promised to make life easier with finite simple steps. This headline on the surface does just the opposite.
Who needs more ways to do one thing?
Yet, you see this headline template used all the time. It’s a proven winner.
How can that be?
This headline delivers a subtle suggestion to your reader, “You may not be doing this right.”
Your reader’s subconscious fear kicks in. They wonder if their missing something that could help them be better or more successful.
Note: This headline template works best on subjects that are complex or not commonly well understood. Your audience is likely open to a multiple options in the hopes of finding the best one.
- 7 Ways to Get Your Book Published
- 4 Ways to Find the Stock Market’s Next Big Winner
- 5 Easy Ways to Cook a Turkey
- 9 Ways to Negotiate for a Higher Salary
4. # Resources/Tools/Tips for Audience/Process
There are many resources, tools, tips and tricks, and best practices for any subject or situation. The problem is finding and organizing them all.
The resource list headline template promotes your one stop shop for everything you need.
You’re telling your audience that you’ve created the ultimate list.
No need to do their own exhaustive research. No need to compile the best information.
You’ve done all that for them.
Pro Tip: Resource list headlines that include massive numbers (like 51, 75 or 101) are guaranteed to be hits. Such big numbers tell your reader that the content they are about to read is epic.It’s not your broad fluff stuff that gives obvious information. It signals your reader that your list must include something new that they hadn’t discovered before. They are compelled to read on.
- 51 Resources for First-Time Home Buyers
- 35 Tools for Web Designers
- 75 Tips for Getting Accepted to the Best Colleges
- 55 Headline Templates that Your Readers Will Find Irresistible
5. 101 Actions/Goals/Things for Goal/Thing
This headline template is the monster version of the previous resource headline style.
It’s the twin brother of the “How-to [Blank] – The Ultimate Guide” headline.
Plus, the number 101 is the most popular number to use for the ultimate list. Just like the Top 10 list is the most recognized headline format for shorter lists.
- 101 Baby Names for 2016
- 101 Do-It-Yourself Decorations for Halloween
- 101 Car Parts for Restoring Your Vintage Ford
- 101 Organic Foods for a Longer, Healthier Life
6. # Action/Goal Secrets Every Audience Should Know
Many headlines work well because they are designed to make your audience curious.
This particular template is one of the best.
It packs three explicit triggers words that make your content irresistible:
- “Secrets”: You come right out and say there are secrets that other know, but your readers may not. Who doesn’t want to know a secret?
- The number: Yikes! There’s more than one secret?! Your readers can probably survive not knowing one secret. But they’ll look downright clueless if they don’t understand multiple critical secrets.
- “Every”: Inside your reader is thinking, “This means ME.” Better yet, you escalate your reader’s fear impulse that everyone else knows, but they don’t.
- 7 Emergency Room Secrets Every Patient Should Know
- 10 Teenage Sex Secrets Every Parent Should Know
- 13 Landing Page Secrets Every Marketing Professional Should Know
- 75 Shopping Secrets Every Deal-Seeking Consumer Should Know
7. # Surprising Reasons Why Action/Goal
However, sometimes your readers feel they know a particular topic well. Or maybe the issue isn’t that urgent.
Your average how-to headline or list headline is not enough to induce your audience to read on.
Your headline needs to poke that curiosity a little harder occasionally.
This headline template promises a surprise to spark that curiosity.
You can tell your readers that they haven’t thought of it all.
You have unexpected, non-obvious information that could be the secret to unlocking something valuable.
- 7 Surprising Reasons Why You Didn’t Get a Job Interview
- 10 Surprising Reasons Why Global Warming Is Accelerating
- 5 Surprising Reasons Why Learning Spanish Is Critical to Your Education
- 13 Surprising Reasons Why Your Business Is Set to Takeoff
8. Get Action/Goal ! # Steps/Ideas/Tricks That Really Work
Some subjects have been covered over and over again.
How to lose weight. How to get a job. How to date the perfect girl/boy.
It’s easy for your audience to skip your content on such popular topics. Your readers are thinking you likely aren’t offering anything new.
Just more same old advice that hasn’t worked.
Acknowledge their skepticism.
Signal that you know the other B.S. doesn’t work… but this does.
That’s what adding “Ideas That Really Work” at the end tells your readers.
Plus, you are enticing those skeptics by promising real results.
Your strong “Get” or “Grab” call to action has more impact with the promise of success.
Something the rest of the blah, blah, blah advisors can’t deliver.
- Get Your Dream House! 15 Tricks That Really Work
- Get Fit Now! 7 Steps That Really Work
- Get a Bigger Raise! The 1 Idea That Really Works
- Grab Cheap Airline Tickets! The 5 Tips That Really Work
9. The # Laws of Action/Goal
They give us structure.
They spell out the rules of the game.
Your readers want to find out what the laws are to make sure that they are getting the most from “the system”.
On the other hand, rules were made to be broken for some people.
This part of your audience specifically likes to beat “the system” by intentionally breaking the laws.
The good news for you is that this headline template is attractive for both types of readers.
Both need to know what those laws are in order to either obey them or break them.
- The 10 Laws of Winning an Auction on eBay
- The 5 Rules of Preparing for an Earthquake
- The 12 Rules of Publishing a Best-Selling eBook
- The 7 Laws of Fat Burning Exercises
Announcement Headlines – Hear ye! Hear ye!
One way to think about the content they distribute is that they basically deliver an endless stream of announcements.
Just the subject or timeliness vary.
What do these TV, radio, newspapers and online new sources rely on to attract readers and viewers?
The main elements of the headlines that news media rely on can work for you.
This announcement headline style offers three vital characteristics:
- We’re #1: The reason this announcement headlines work so well is that we all want to be the first to know something. As social beings, we feel a big benefit by being first. We get an advantage. We can improve our status.
- Authority: This headline style gives you (the news broadcaster) an additional level of authority. You demonstrate that they’ve got the inside scoop on the timely and trending topic. You are perceived to be an insider with firsthand, deeper experience on the subject.
- Urgency: Announcements have a shelf-life. Some news can be top of mind one day and easily skipped the next day. Your audience is conditioned to act fast when they see an announcement. So they will jump at the opportunity to learn and share the latest and greatest news.
Exercise: Create your own list of 5-10 announcement examples for each of these questions:
- Hot and Trending Topics: What is current news in your niche or something that you can tie back to your niche?
- Goals: What valuable objectives does your audience want to achieve? Refer back to the important goals and desired skills you noted in the previous How-to Headlines section.
- Accomplishments: What new products, updates, or major milestones are you launching and wanting to build buzz around?
5 Announcement Headline Templates
1. Breaking News! Announcement
They do this to grab your attention. It has incredible stopping power.
This headline template can do the same thing for your content.
Your audience will take notice and be compelled to read your story.
The key is that you are delivering the freshest news.
- Breaking News! Android Sales Surpass iPhones
- Breaking News! Usain Bolt Fastest Man in the World
- Breaking News! Protein Key to Fast Weight Loss
- Breaking News! Over 1 Million Visitors to BobAngus.com
2. Announcing Announcement
Making an announcement is more understated than “Breaking News”, but it can be equally effective.
Your audience always loves an announcement from you.
The best way to drive action is to emphasize the value your audience will receive in the headline.
- Announcing the iPhone 5 Tips and Tricks Guide
- Announcing 10 Deep Discounts for Your Back to School Shopping
- Announcing Our Pick to Win the 2016 Super Bowl
- Announcing a New eBook – How to Find the Perfect Job on LinkedIn
3. New Announcement – Call to Action !
This headline template puts a different twist on your announcement.
Here the emphasis shifts to a call to action.
I particularly like this style because it directly asks your audience to do something.
Tests have shown again and again that simply asking for action is the most effective way to actually get your audience to act.
So putting a call to action in your headline makes perfect sense.
- New Windows 10 Available Now
- New Master Headline Guide – Buy Now!
- New 30-Day Trial Subscription– Try it Now!
- New 3-Month Marathon Training Program – Start Today!
4. Announcement Limited Time Only!
Another way to drive action is to add a sense of urgency to your announcement headline.
This approach has been used by direct marketing professionals forever. You should take advantage of it too.
- Levi’s Jeans at 50% Discount – Limited Time Only!
- 35 Body Sculpting Tips FREE– This Week Only!
- How to Boost Your Confidence Seminar – Seats Limited!
- Understanding the 2013 Tax Changes – Ends Friday!
5. Alert: Announcement
It’s like waving your hands and shouting “Hey! Pay attention!”
Add “Alert:” or “Notification:” to the front of your headline or email subject line.
Your readers will take notice.
Plus, this headline template uses just that single word “Alert:” intentionally.
Doing so increases the formality of the headline.
As a result, you have created a sense of urgency that your readers have been pre-conditioned to act on.
- Alert: New Jumbo Jet Takes Off on Maiden Voyage
- Alert: High Fructose Corn Syrup Found in More Foods You Eat
- Notification: New Car Loans Available at Lower Rates
- Notification: Your Newsletter Subscription Has Been Upgraded
Download Your Headline Template Worksheet
There you have it – 14 more classics headline and email subject line styles.
You will certainly drive more action whenever you use an announcement or a list headline.
And that completes the series.
You now have all 55 fill-in-the-blank headline templates.
You’ve got everything you need to get more readers enjoying your content.
Here are the links to the other sections we covered:
And make sure to download your worksheet here:
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