The Headline to kill all Headlines - Showtime Digital

The Headline to kill all Headlines

03 March 2016 Read 1309 times

With all the work we do to create conversions a headline can either nail the conversion or kill it.

During the first 3 seconds you must answer the 3W’s -

  1. Who are you?
  2. Why should I care?
  3. What’s the next step?

The most important of all of these is the Why. Why should I care, what’s in it for me. How are you going to improve my situation?

As an overview, create headlines which:

  • Are relevant to the ad/email
  • Include keywords
  • Include specifics
  • Are compelling
  • Target both emotions and logic

Here we’re only going to look at headlines on their own merit. Just to stay on point I will comment on some of the larger copy but I won’t go into the other details of the page.

The reason headlines are so important is people determine what’s on offer by the headline and the sub headline, that’s if they’ve got that far. As consumers our BS meter is always on and our attention spans are low. They’ve seen it all before, website after website in most categories looks the same. The headline on its own can, in some situations, snap the consumer out of their malaise and that’s what we’re going to look into here.




When I first saw Airbnb’s headline I thought, ‘of course, that’s it’. Welcome Home and Belong Anywhere. But can any two headlines be in polar opposites and still say the same thing. Be here, live anywhere. The adventure and the sense of security these headlines engender is a masterstroke.

It’s interesting to see a company of its size work on their headline. Companies with this exposure don’t normally need to create awesome headlines. But for the rest of us we need to use every tactic possible to convert consumers into buyers.




Tell it like it is

Hit The Switch


Here’s a page which gets to the point and endeavours to break away from its competitors. When do you Google an electrician, only when you’ve got an emergency, right. This company understands this and tells it like it is. The eye falls directly to the offer, ‘5% off for prompt payment’. They’ve also added extra urgency by saying ‘This is a genuine offer not to be missed’. They’ve softened it a little by saying ‘Pay on the day or within 7 days’. It would be interesting to see if taking the words in italic’s out would increase conversions over the default.


Give em the steak knives

Australian Unity


If there’s one category where it’s been difficult to see on-page innovation it’s in the personal insurance industry. For a long time the category promoted $100 savings on new sign ups. So when the industry has finished discounting where do you go from there? You add value, so it’s nice to see this page hold my attention without the grab of a few saved dollars.

The word ‘just’ in the heading holds my attention long enough to see what else is on offer. I’m not sure what ‘have your cake’ and ‘go for a run’ means but it held my attention long enough to look.


Make a provocative statement

Afford Property Investment


Here’s an example of being in the same headspace as the consumer. They’ve used a tactic which says, ‘that’s exactly what we’ve been thinking’! This way they are getting on the same side of the table as the consumer and for that reason it doesn’t come across as salesy. I can see the affirmative and cheeky smile on the face of the person saying this. It’s big and bold, I love it.

It’s not a big brand but a headline like this helps it compete with much larger competitors who have less convincing calls to action. If you’re passionate about what you do you can come up with something your audience can believe in.


Use an honest testimonial



Here in the Showtime office we’re a GoGet believer and use their service to visit clients. But I’ve never visited their website so I was happy to see the headline they use. It incorporates a testimonial into the headline and it’s a real family with a real photo (no iStock photos).

In the sub headline they also had an opportunity to create an embedded command. This is how the sentence is worded...


They could have said the following...

Find out how GoGet members Evan and Jennifer’s family get on
without owning their own car.

‘Get on’ hints at using the service while ‘get by’ implies hitting hard times and struggle. Also having the word ‘without’ on a different line visually separates the negative implication of the words ‘Get by without’ in combination. It doesn’t sound very aspirational does it. Here’s how that looks.

Find out how GoGet members Evan and Jennifer’s family
get by without owning their own car.

It may seem pedantic but small changes such as these change conversions considerably. Having a customer say you’re great is the highest compliment and a great way of unlocking both the emotional and logical padlocks of the consumer. This is exactly the justification a consumer needs to use the product.


Let’s cut to the chase

Lumo Energy


Lumo’s Spring Campaign offer gets straight to the point. ‘What’s in it for me’? It might seem brutal but that’s exactly what the consumer is thinking, kudos to Lumo for having the courage to place this on the page. A headline like this certainly capitalises on the first 3 seconds.


Alleviate consumer frustration

Here’s a headline Showtime did for a client in the lending space. This headline played its part in a 484% increase in conversions over a 5 month period. Let’s break the headline down into its individual parts. For client privacy, logos and contact details have been removed.

Showtime Client


The Cashflow Solution Informed Businesses Turn To

These two words were strategically chosen. ‘Cashflow’ has a positive connotation whereas ‘Funding’ is a banking term. We don’t want to talk like bankers but we don’t want to be an Alternative so the word ‘Solution was used. ‘Solution’ suggests this provider, right here right now, has your answer.

The Cashflow Solution Informed Businesses Turn To

This terminology attracts one of our basic human instincts, the need to belong. Plus it’s evokes the idea of a group of business owners which you need to be a part of.

The Cashflow Solution Informed Businesses Turn To’

This is the embedded command. Here we’ve incorporated the next step within the headline.



We’ve only looked at a few headlines but the amount of websites we had to view to find them means approximately 5-7% of headlines have been considered as a sales tool by the owners. It’s in interesting number considering the average website converts at the same amount.

If you can differentiate yourself by creating a compelling headline you’re ahead of more than 90% of the market in this regard.

Remember to think of the headline as the executive summary of the page. It should be the last element you place on the page. This way every word matters and the page flows for the consumer. Spend the extra time to make the headline really tight and it can pay dividends for you.

Words matter and on a landing page where a conversion is only another 5 seconds away, each word matters even more.

So where do you start, how do you make the headline to kill all other headlines and how do turn this into conversions? The following eBook outlines the specific steps Showtime Digital take to create landing pages which convert in the finance and insurance space.


eBook: Creating Landing Pages Which Convert

Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer is the Joint Founder and CEO of Showtime Digital. Steve has been in B2B sales since 1997 but influencing people and behavioural science has been a long-term passion.

The magic he brings to his clients is in knowing how to engage their audience. His goal is to help businesses understand the deeper reasons of why consumers convert online with them.