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51 Headline Formulas To Skyrocket Conversions (And Where To Use Them)

Content Marketing

Pop quiz!

Which headline will get more clicks, likes, and shares?

a) The Breathtaking Geometry of America from Above

OR

b) America From the Sky 

This is not one of those situations where I say that “there’s no right answer”. There is a right answer, and it’s A. Headline A follows a set of effective rules for headlines to entice the target audience to click. 

 In this Sumo-sized guide, I’m going to show you exactly how headline A does it, with specific headline formulas and templates you can use to do the same.

51 Irresistible Headline Formulas To Increase Your Clicks, Shares, And Conversions

10 Places To Use Headline Formulas For More Traffic, Shares, And Conversions

Want to take the heavy lifting out of creating mind-blowing headlines?

Click here to get our free headline generator!

51 Irresistible Headline Formulas To Increase Your Clicks, Shares, And Conversions

Type

Formula

Example

The How To HeadlineHow to [Achieve a Desired Outcome]How to Run Faster
The Ultimate List Headline[Large Number] of Ways to [Achieve an Outcome]28 Ideas For Content Upgrades To Grow Your Email List
The Ultimate Guide HeadlineThe Ultimate Guide to [Achieve a Desired Outcome]The Ultimate Guide to Eating Healthy on a Budget
The Fearmonger HeadlineWarning! Are You [Something Undesirable]?Warning! Are You Eating This Food That Could Kill You?
The Rally Cry HeadlineLet’s Stop [A Call to Arms]Let’s Stop Eating This Poisonous Food!
The Proven Methods Headline[Number] Proven [Actions/Ways] to [Achieve Desired Result]18 Proven Techniques to Build More Muscle in Less Time
The Mistakes Headline[Number] Mistakes Most People Make When/With [Common Action]11 Mistakes Most People Make When Washing Their Hair
The Secrets Headline[Number] Secrets to [Achieve Desired Outcome]7 Secrets to Becoming a Digital Nomad
The Outrageous HeadlineWhy [Outrageous/Controversial Claim]Why Canadians Are Actually Evil
The Lessons Learned Headline[Number] Lessons I Learned When/From [Experience]7 Lessons I Learned Doubling Sumo’s Blog Traffic
The Social Proof HeadlineThe [Object] Over [Social Proof] Use To [Desired Outcome]The Tool Over 283,000 Websites Use to Grow Their Traffic
The Testimonial HeadlineHow [Company] Got [Result] In [Timeframe]How Shopify Store BlendJet Made $163,633.50 Sales In 30 Days
The Objection Preemptive Headline[No/Yes], You [Pre-Empt Objection] to [Achieve Desired Result]No, You Don’t Have to Count Calories to Lose Weight
The Question HeadlineAre You [Provocative Question]?Are You Still Eating Dairy?
The See What Happened Headline[Person] Did [Unusual Action] [Timeframe]. Here’s What HappenedI Did Yoga Every Day for 6 Months. Here’s What Happened
The How/Result HeadlineHow [A Seemingly Inconsequential Action] Can Lead To [Undesirable Result]How Your Morning Coffee Can Lead to Heart Disease
The Celebrity HeadlineHow to [Achieve Desired Outcome] Like [Celebrity]How Tony Robbins Generates 1,000,000 Website Visitors Per Month
The How To Without HeadlineHow To [Desired Outcome] (Without [Unpleasant Action])How To Get Featured on Large Publications (Without Guest Posting)
The Silver Platter Headline[Number or How to] Simple/Easy Ways to [Desired Outcome]14 Easy Ways to Save $100 This Month
The Analysis HeadlineWe Analyzed [Number] [Thing You Analyzed] ] (And This Is What We Learned)We Analyzed 100 Million Articles (And This Is What We Learned)
The Tutorial HeadlineA [Power Word] Tutorial to [Achieve Desired Outcome]A Comprehensive Tutorial to Make a Budget
The Hacks Headline[Number] Hacks to [Achieve Desired Outcome]25 Hacks to Save More Money
The Explainer HeadlineWhy [Thing] Makes You [Outcome]Why Spirulina Makes You Smarter
The Steps To Result Headline[Number] Steps To [Achieve Desired Outcome]4 Simple Steps To Build An Email List From Scratch
The WTF Headline[Person] And His/Her [Object] Doing [Odd Or Funny Activity]John Cena And His Giant Hands Playing With A Tiny Tortoise
The Quiz HeadlineQuiz: Which [Topic] Are You?Quiz: Which Harry Potter Character Are You?
The Hot Button HeadlinePeople Called This [Person] An [Controversial Title] After He/She [Controversial Activity]People Called This Mom An “Exhibitionist” After She Took A Breastfeeding Pic With Santa
The Fortune Teller HeadlineYou Won’t Be Able To [Claim] Until You [Action]You Won’t Be Able to Lose Weight Until You Eat This One Paleo Food
The News HeadlineBreaking: [Story]Breaking: Whooping Cough Outbreak in Your City
The Command HeadlineStop [Strong Command]Stop Selling Out
The Reasons Headline[Number] Reasons You’re [Outcome]16 Reasons You’re Fighting With Your Spouse
The Imagination HeadlineImagine [Desired Outcome]Imagine Becoming a Millionaire
The Little Known Methods Headline[Number] Little-Known Ways To [Desired Outcome]13 Little-Known Call To Action Hacks You Can Use On Your Website
The Ignorance Avoidance HeadlineWhat You Should Know About [Topic]What You Should Know About Your Roth IRA
The Snackable HeadlineYou [3 Words or Fewer Summarizing Topic]You Aren’t That Special
The Pattern Interruption HeadlineHow [Claim That Goes Against What Most People Think Is True]How Fruit Will Make You Fat
The Solutions HeadlineWhy [Problem] (And What To Do About It)Why You’re Not Getting Traffic To Your Website (And What To Do About It)
The Expert Roundup Headline[Number] [Expert] Share Their [Topic]14 Nutritionists Share Their Favourite Plant-Based Recipes
The Reminder HeadlineReminder: [Claim or Truth]Reminder: Your Weight is Not a Reflection of Your Health
The Comparison HeadlineAre You More Like [X] or [Y]?Are You More Like a Tiger or a Lion?
The Trivia HeadlineCan You Find The Problem With This [Object]Can You Find The Problem With This Photo?
The Front-Loaded Keyword Headline[Keyword]: How To [Long Tail Keyword]Healthy Eating 101: How To Eat Healthy on a Budget
The Promise HeadlineWe Can Help You [Promise] By [Result]We Can Help You Boost Your Traffic By 20%
The Results HeadlineHow We Did [Desired Result] In [Timeframe]How 35 Marketers Would Grow Website Visitors From 0-10K In 30 Days
The Teaser HeadlineThese [Number] [Thing] Could Help You [Desired Outcome]These 6 Foods Could Help You Lose 15 Pounds
The Sidenote Headline[Number] Lessons Learned From [Company/Person] (#[Number] Is [Teaser])7 Lessons We Learned from General Assembly (#2 is Our Favorite)
The Branded Headline[Headline Formula] (A [Unique Branding] Guide)134 Ways To Increase Website Traffic In 2019 (A Sumo-Sized Guide)
The Urgency Headline[Action] NOW!Fix Your Conversion Rate NOW!
The Target Audience Headline[Target Audience]! Are You [Undesirable Outcome]?Bloggers! Are You Leaving Traffic on the Table?
The Bold Statement Headline[Bold Statement]: What We Learned [Data-Backed Evidence]Pop-ups Aren’t Dead: What We Learned Analyzing 2 Billion Pop-up Examples
The Curiosity HeadlineYou Probably [Vague Statement to Trigger Curiosity]You Probably Won’t Read This

10 Places To Use Headline Formulas For More Traffic, Shares, And Conversions

Even though we’re calling them headline formulas, there’s no limit to where you can use them. Here are some creative places you can use these formulas and templates:

  1. Email Subject Lines
  2. Content
  3. Search Engine Metadata
  4. Titles & Taglines
  5. Sales Pages
  6. Subheads
  7. Email Optins
  8. Ledes
  9. Testimonials
  10. Product Names

Headline Formulas In Your Email Subject Lines

Your email subject lines are miniature headlines. They: 

  • Are the first point of contact between your subscriber and the content inside of the email.
  • Compel people to click and consume. 
  • Describe what the person will be consuming once they click.

So it’s crucial that you use solid headlines in your email subject lines, too.

Paula Pant from Afford Anything uses a headline formula, creating a clickable and compelling attention-grabber which rises above the rest of the boring subject lines in the inbox:

Launch a Kick-Awesome Life … Starting Now

I didn’t have to look far to find this poorly written headline that I sent straight to trash without reading:

New content on home loans

You don’t want your emails to go straight to the trash box without ever being read.

Headline Formulas In Your Content

Think only written content like articles and blog posts require strong headlines?

Wrong. 

Every single piece that you want more eyes on needs a strong, compelling, and irresistible headline.

That includes all of your content…

#1: Headline Formulas In Your Articles

The momentum your reader gains from reading a well-written headline translates over to reading your articles.

Do it like the pros and use strong, compelling, click-worthy headlines in your articles.

Avoid “clickbait” and make sure the article delivers on the promise.

You don’t have to guess at what headline will be popular, though. For every article we publish, we test five headlines:  

  1. 49 Headline Formulas to Skyrocket Conversions (And Where to Use them)
  2. Why This Headline Won In A 5-Way Split Test
  3. I Wrote 49 Headlines. Here’s What Happened.
  4. The Sumo-Sized List of 49+ Headline Formulas
  5. 49 Headline Formulas (Tony Robbins Loves #17)

We put $25 behind Facebook ads over two days to test five headlines and the winner is the one with the highest click-through rate (CTR). 

In this case, “49 Headline Formulas to Skyrocket Conversions (And Where to Use Them)” was the winner. 

If you want to test your headlines for free, use Buffer to test different headlines on social media. We’re testing the:

  • Sidenote Headline – [Number] Lessons Learned From [Company/Person] (#[Number] Is [Teaser])
  • Command Headline – Stop [Strong Command]
  • How To Without Headline – How To [Desired Outcome] (Without [Unpleasant Action])
  • Target Audience Headline – [Target Audience]! Are You [Undesirable Outcome]?

Then, use the Analytics tab to find out which of the headlines your followers clicked on the most.

#2: Headline Formulas In Your Podcasts

When people are scrolling through podcast episodes in iTunes, you want them to choose your podcast rather than the thousands of others. 

Let’s say you were looking for a podcast episode on healthy eating. Because it’s the new year, and you have resolutions to achieve!

Which podcast episode are you more likely to listen to? This one, titled “Healthy Eating” Or “11 Healthy Eating Habits of the Super Fit”?

Trick question. You’ll choose the latter. 

#3: Headline Formulas In Your Video Titles

Don’t overlook your video headlines.

On a platform with over 400 million videos like YouTube, you need yours to stand out from the crowd.

An example of a strong headline for a video is one of Sumo’s usage of the Celebrity Headline, “How Tony Robbins Generates 1,000,000 Website Visitors Per Month”:

It makes you want to know how Tony Robbins does it, increasing the likelihood you’ll press “play”.  

Headline Formulas In Your Search Engine Metadata

Keywords people are searching for is the most important thing to focus on for SEO, right?

Maybe. But the “key word” (pun intended) in that sentence above is people. Humans are searching for those keywords. When Google drums up the results for them and they’re scanning the first few options, you need to entice them to click on your content first.

While your headline in your content may (and should) differ from what you set as your meta headline, it’s still important to incorporate those keywords into something that people want to click.

For example, when I type “easy healthy recipes” into Google, many results come up.

The first result I wanted to click on is “52 Healthy Meals in 12 Minutes or Less”. That’s because it promised me a lot of what I wanted — 52 healthy recipes — in a short time frame (12 minutes or less).

Just because you need to use keywords in your meta title doesn’t mean you should ignore headline formulas, like Best Health Mag clearly did with their headline “recipes”.

Headline Formulas In Your Titles And Taglines

Take a look at your podcast title on iTunes and Stitcher, your Youtube Channel name, or your blog title in WordPress or Squarespace.  

Create a tagline using the headline templates above to draw interest, like Nathan Chan does with the Foundr Magazine Podcast.

Instead of just “Foundr Magazine Podcast”, he added the tagline “Learn From Successful Founders & Proven Entrepreneurs, The Ultimate StartUp Podcast For Business”. 

Headline Formulas In Your Sales Pages

Rock solid headlines are crucial on your sales page for increasing traffic and conversions. 

Nathan Barry uses the Objection Preemptive headline formula ([No/Yes], You [Pre-Empt Objection] to [Achieve Desired Result]) on his sales page subheadline for Authority to catch the visitor’s attention right away.

The Idea that Authors Can’t Make Money Is Bull****. And no, you don’t have to be famous or have a huge online following. 

Headline Formulas In Your Subheads

In our recent guide about using power words in your marketing, I told you about how your visitors do not read every word of your article.

Instead, they scan over that content you worked so hard to put together, and to throw salt in the wound, they judge you in less time than it takes to take a bite of their breakfast taco — about 10 seconds.[*]

But what if you could capture their attention? What if you could make them actually read your content rather than just scanning over it, making a snap judgment, and hovering their mouse over the “x” button? 

Good news! You can by including headline formulas in your subheads. 

Subheads break up the text on your page, add visual interest, and a strong subhead will capture interest and lead the reader down the page, increasing the average read rate of your articles.

Headline Formulas In Your Email Optins

Your email list is crucial to the health of your business (and your wallet).

But most entrepreneurs let their email lists grow at a snail’s pace. 

Instead give your email optins a boost by including headline formulas on all of your optin opportunities:

#1: Headline Formulas On Your Welcome Mat

Whether you’re offering an optin bribe on your Welcome Mat or inviting your visitors to subscribe, creating a swoon-worthy headline will boost your conversions like crazy.

Which would you rather subscribe to… 

This offer that falls flat? “Sign Up for Our Newsletter”

Or this optin worthy headline? “Achieve Optimal Performance”

I know which one I’d choose.

#2: Headline Formulas On Your List Builder Forms

Let’s be honest… 

Pop-ups and Click Triggers capture attention. That’s why they’ve been known to double email conversion rates and get optins of over 30%.  

You might think they don’t need help from headline formulas to do their job, right?

 Wrong.

It’s what you’re offering that encourages people to enter their email address.  

And there’s no better way to describe what you’re offering than a powerful headline that packs a punch. Check out how Canva does this with their List Builder pop-up: “Learn How to Design A Memorable Brand that Catches On: Sign up to our newsletter and receive a free copy of our complete guide to branding and design.”

Don’t just ask people to subscribe. Give them a reason to with a headline formula. 

#3: Headline Formulas On Your Smart Bar

Your Smart Bar is meant to capture attention when somebody lands on your website — and therefore, capture emails as well.

It does a pretty good job of it, too, but you can help it live up to its full potential by including headline formulas in your Smart Bar call to action.

Check out how Hello Focus uses a headline formula in their Smart Bar: “Top productivity hacks sent to your email.”

A/B test your email optin headlines to find what resonates with your visitors. We tested a Question Headline against a variation of the Tutorial Headline and found that the Tutorial Headline won.

We collected 52% more emails because we ran this simple A/B test. 

Headline Formulas In Your Ledes

Your lede (the opening paragraph for an article, sales page, or other written resource) is meant to capture interest, attention, and draw the reader down the page or screen.

You know what does just that? 

You guessed it! Headline formulas.

Great ledes often read like great headlines – or maybe vice versa. For example, in this Xconomy article, the lede uses a strong headline formula — The Fortune Teller Headline:[*]

“The future is way behind schedule.”

When you’re writing the opening sentence or paragraph for your next post or sales page, consider how you can weave a headline formula into it.

Headline Formulas In Your Testimonials

Remember when we told you that testimonials can increase conversions by 34%?

Can you imagine how effective a testimonial would be if it had a badass headline attached to it?

You could use the Testimonial Headline (How [Company] Got [Result] In [Timeframe]) as a template for your testimonials page.

Or, you could use a different formula to draw attention to those solid testimonials you worked so hard to earn and obtain.

You could identify your testimonials by titling them “Testimonials”. Or, you could use something like “Over 10,000 Customers Believe The Language System Is the Best Way to Learn a New Language”.

Using the Social Proof Headline like a boss.

Headline Formulas In Your Product Names

One opportunity for interest, conversions, and sales that most people overlook is their product names.

We showed you how to use power words in your product names (and gave you 401 of them), but don’t just stop there. Use one of these headline formulas, too. 

You don’t have to use a long headline formula in your product names, but you may be losing on conversions and sales if you fail to capture your audience’s attention with a strong and compelling headline.

Stop Losing Traffic, Shares, And Conversions With Boring Headlines

We just covered a lot of ground: 

  • I demonstrated exactly how headlines are so effective.
  • I went over every formula you’ll ever need to write a click-worthy headline.
  • I showed you exactly where to use these formulas in your website and marketing.

But all of this was pointless if you do nothing with this information. 

To start, choose ONE place from the list of 10 places to use headline formulas from this post. 

Then, scan through the list of headline formulas to find one that resonates with you. 

Apply the formula in the place you chose.

Don’t be afraid to test different formulas. Testing is the fun part! You can run tests for free on your email optin forms using Sumo.

Or plug a few details into our headline generator and let it do the work for you.

Click here to get our free headline generator!

We’re using The Silver Platter Headline Formula on this article. Click one of the social icons to the left to share it on your social media. Then tomorrow check-in to see how it’s performed against your other posts. 

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