Quickly Turn (Even The Dumbest) Prospect Questions Into Headlines That Get Clicked

Detailed walkthrough of a simple headline formula that can turn any prospect question into headlines that will get more visitors to your site.

When it comes to helping your prospects and addressing their pain there probably aren't really any dumb questions, but that using that word in the headline is just an example of what this article is covering.  

People see the headline before anything else. It will do one of two things...get their attention...or it won't.   Site visitors will either stay and read or move on to something else.

In fact, according to Brian Clark of Copyblogger, as many as 80% of people will read the average headline when they come across it, but only 20% of people will actually read the entire blog post.

That’s why it's so critical you get it right. 

The most important element of a headline is that it addresses a real problem the reader is experiencing.  But you also have to make your headline as intriguing as possible.

I'm going to walk you through a simple headline formula that can turn any prospect questions into headlines that will get more visitors to your site.

FINDING THE QUESTION TO ANSWER 

I touched on this in the post on creating a simple lead funnel, and since it's such a critical piece of this puzzle, I'll include it here too.

You can use Quora and Reddit to go inside the mind of your potential customers and reveal what issues they need help with the most.

Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited, and organized by its community of users. You can research your market here and find their most common questions.

Reddit is a massive collection of forums, where people can share news and content or comment on other people’s posts. Find your market's forums and you'll see their struggles.

If you need a detailed walkthough on using these two resources, I included it in this post's bonus section.

EXPANDED BONUS TRAINING

USE QUORA & REDDIT TO FIND PROSPECTS' QUESTIONS

Get the step-by-step process to find the best questions to answer in your content for both Quora and Reddit.

After using the above methods to find one of your prospect's questions, you're ready to build a headline around it.

The headline formula below is perfect for this process of turning questions into blog post headlines.

HOW TO BUILD CLICKABLE HEADLINE WITH
THe Easy 4-u Headline Formula

The only “trick” to getting people to click on your headlines is meeting them where they are: promising them a useful, ultra-specific, urgent, and unique answer to their problems.

Melanie Duncan’s 4U formula is ideal for turning a question into a compelling headline that will get clicks.

STEP 1. MAKE IT USEFUL IN SOLVING A PROBLEM

Step 1 of the formula is to solve a customer problem

Think about the articles you click on when you’re scrolling through Facebook or checking your emails in the morning.

​Probably it's the ones that solve a problem you are experiencing.

Understanding what will be useful to your audience is part of understanding who they are and what they want. It meets them where they’re at, identifying a problem they may be experiencing or a solution they may be looking for.

The Quora & Reddit method above is a perfect way to find what will be useful to your market.

In most cases this is a very simple step.  You just need to turn the question into a statement.

For this post, the question I was answering was, "What's the best headline formula for a post that answers questions?"

After applying this step the headline was:

"How To Turn Questions Into Headlines"

That directly addresses the problem in the question, and makes a promise to solve it.

But it's boring.  In the next steps, we'll tweak it to make it more clickable.

2. Is ULTRA SPECIFIC

Being ultra-specific like Buzzfeed headlines is step 2 of creating clickable headlines

This kind of headline is popular because it works; we as readers like the specificity of knowing exactly what we’re going to get. The best headlines also go beyond that to be even more specific.

Take the headline, "7 Common Foods You Should Never Eat"...it's not just foods you shouldn’t eat, but common foods.

Or "70 At-Home Date Night Ideas To Try Tonight"...is not just date night ideas, but at-home date night ideas.

According to an article on Hello Bar, we shouldn't be afraid of using extra words. If you keep your headline to about 77 characters or fewer, you’ll do fine.

After applying this step the headline became:

"How To Turn Prospect Questions Into Headlines That Get Clicked"

It's not just questions...but prospect questions.

And not just headlines..but headlines "that get clicked".

3. CONVEYS A SENSE OF URGENCY

fear of missing out (FOMO) is applied in step 3 of the headline formula

AdWeek's Jennifer Lux explains, "If you have ever made a purchase due to social pressure, fear of not getting a deal or discontent around possibly missing out on a shared experience, you know exactly what it feels like to be incentivized by the fear of missing out (FOMO)."

Applying this psychology in key ways will not only give you an edge over your competition but will also help your target market feel connected long-term to both your brand and its purchases.

Some words you can use in your headline to create urgency are:


  • Now
  • Fast
  • Quick
  • Hurry
  • Rapidly
  • Close
  • Approaching
  • Never
  • Seconds
  • Again
  • Over
  • Instant
In the bonus area of this post is a list of another 100+ words you can start inserting into your post headlines to create even more Urgency and boost click through rates.

EXPANDED BONUS TRAINING

100+ POWER WORDS FOR HEADLINES

After applying this step the headline became:

"How To Quickly Turn Prospect Questions Into Headlines That Get Clicked"

It's not just turn...but quickly turn.

4. Make It UNIQUE

Step 4 is doing anything you can to make your headline unique will help it stand out in an oversaturated digital world.

Whenever you Google a topic, you get a selection of articles, blog posts, or websites on the same topic.

If the title seems too familiar, some consumers will skip over your content purely because they’ve read a similar article, says research from online monitoring tool Keyhole.co.

Anything you can do to make your headline unique will help it stand out in an oversaturated digital world. 

After applying this step the headline became:

"Quickly Turn (Even The Dumbest) Prospect Questions Into Headlines That Get Clicked"

Adding (Even The Dumbest) to the headline would make it standout in a search result or a social media feed. 

Examples of Unusual Headlines:

YOUR 4-U HEADLINE IS DONE!

My headline was significantly better and the process took just a few minutes.

When you put these four elements together, you’ll find you come up with better headlines every time.

Easy 4-U Headline Formula for building clickable headlines

Let's walkthrough another example of the 4-U Headline Formula.

For example, if you have a health product and wanted to write a blog post around the question:

"What's a good macro diet plan?"

STEP 1:  MAKE IT USEFUL

Since you already have the question, you know it will be useful to your market. We just need to tweak it to give the prospect exactly what they want.   They want a good macro diet plan...so let's just give them the "best".

The Best Macro Diet Plan

STEP 2: MAKE IT ULTRA-SPECIFIC

Now, we want to make it more targeted in focus.   First, I made it focus on losing fat (versus building muscle or increasing energy).

The Best Macro Diet Plan To Lose Fat

But then I thought it needed to be even more specific, so I made it focus only on losing belly fat.

The Best Macro Diet Plan To Lose Belly Fat

STEP 3: MAKE IT URGENT

Next, we want to add a sense of urgency.   This topic leads itself perfectly to using the time element of urgency, so I added "in 30 Days".

The Best Macro Diet Plan To Lose Belly Fat in 30 Days

STEP 4: MAKE IT UNIQUE

In this final step the goal is to make it stand out.  

I thought that "in 30 Days" would be the best place to try and add some flavor.  So, I Googled "faster than sayings" and found a page full of good examples.

I loved the "faster than a toupee in a hurricane", but it did require I tweak the rest of the headline a little bit.

Ended up with this:

This Macro Diet Plan Will Make You Lose Belly Fat Faster Than a Toupee in a Hurricane

How much more engaging is that final headline above compared to the one we started with?

You can even split test blog post headlines easily if you are using WordPress.  

It can track click-throughs on your post, so you can find out the best one.

I show you how to do it in the bonus section.

EXPANDED BONUS TRAINING

SPLIT TEST HEADLINES IN WORDPRESS

CONCLUSION

It’s easy to let headlines take the back seat in your writing process. Headlines can wind up as a quick afterthought, but really should be treated with much more consideration. 

Make sure to give your headline creation process the time and attention it deserves.  Don't make it an after thought.  

The right headline can be the difference between a viral post and one that never is seen by anyone but you. 

TRY THIS...TYPE ONE OF YOUR PROSPECTS' QUESTIONS IN THE COMMENTS AND I'LL APPLY THE 4-U FORMULA FOR YOU!

BONUS SECTION

  • 1
    100+ Power Words That Get More Headline Clicks
  • 2
    Find Prospects Questions Using Quora & Reddit
  • 3
    Plugin To Split Test Blog Headlines
  • 4
    PDF Version Of This Post And Bonus Content
Brian Ainsley Horn

Brian Ainsley Horn, was the top SEO consultant for information marketers, pioneered the field of authority marketing, and wrote 5 best selling books. You may have seen him on the Howard Stern Show, Today, Entrepreneur, BuzzFeed, Digital Marketer and dozens of other media outlets. But he's most proud of his hot woman, cool kids, and their very lazy dog.

  • Brian, this is like an MBA in headline creation! I appreciate the suggestions to use Quora and Reddit to find questions, and love that you have a mini training on how to use them!! Thank you

    • Brian Ainsley Horn says:

      Thank you Jane!

      Yes…I’ve found great conversations and questions on Quora and Reddit that really help me build out content. Glad you liked it!

  • Jimmy Slagle says:

    The headline creators dream. Someone once said the purpose of the headline is to interrupt a searchers pattern. Get them to stop and consider the headline.

    The headline must be written to get your reader (who is now interrupted) to read your first sentence and that sentence is designed to compel your reader to read the next sentence and on and on and on and on and… well, you get the idea.

    So thanks Brian for creating a simple 4 step system to create headlines that interrupt and compel.

    Now, imagine if future writers would use this process to create “headlines” for every paragraph they write.

    Obviously, I didn’t do it in this comment… but it could be a fun exercise.

    Now go write… and make sure you are Useful, Ultra-Specific, Unique, and Urgent or as I will now remember it as UUUU (pronounced as ewwww).

    • Brian Ainsley Horn says:

      HA! (ewwww…)

      This is a great final step to really punch up the headline.

  • Awesome advice, I love the guidance on making it specific, urgent and relevant to their problem. It’s also really good to have an idea of the maximum number of characters we’ve got to work with. Thanks again for an excellent and informative article.

    • Brian Ainsley Horn says:

      You’re welcome, Loraine! Thanks for the great comment!

  • Rick Brown says:

    I recall reading something a couple of years ago that the 3 words in a headline that get the most response from readers is: “will make you.” Not sure if that’s still the case or not, but I appreciate people like you Brian who can break this stuff down for us. This is a helpful tool and makes total sense because our content SHOULD answer our prospects’ questions. Thanks for the breakdown!

    • Brian Ainsley Horn says:

      Great suggestion! Thanks, Rick!

  • Neil Howe says:

    I always struggle with headlines, but this simple 4U formula really does take the guess work out of it and make it easy. Most of my headlines contain 2 or maybe 3 of the U’s, but it really pops when you get all 4. Using Quora and Reddit will definitely help to keep the headlines focused.

    • Brian Ainsley Horn says:

      I wasn’t using it before either, and always googled ‘best headlines” to try and mimic. This formula def makes it easy to punch up a boring headline.

  • Evelio says:

    Terrific formula for structuring an attention getting headline! Specifically, the prompt to be ultra specific is very helpful. Often times I am trying to attract a large audience and think the headline should be generic enough to capture a large group… however that’s making my headline bland and generic and not attracting a click through!

    • Brian Ainsley Horn says:

      Yes, sir! That “ultra-specific” fits right in with the “micro-specialization” we’ve covered in authority marketing training.

  • Great info Brian. I have tried using “so you can” in the past when coming up with how to create a headline. I like how expanding on that with the unique, urgent, and ultra-specific can help make my headlines even more successful.

  • Great, easy to remember formula. I’m looking forward to practicing it. I would love to be able to whip these headlines out within a few minutes, like you mentioned.

    Mike Koenigs used to teach a 10×10 formula using questions, that I tweaked a little and still use today.

    I have clients write down 10 frequently asked questions about their product or service then jot down 10 SHOULD ask questions; questions people SHOULD be asking but just don’t know to ask.

    Then we create videos and blog articles around those questions.

    Using Quora and Reddit the way you mentioned here will take that strategy to another level.

    Thanks!

  • Lee says:

    LOVED the 4-U approach to a compelling headline. Great formula. It is so hard to come up with something that will get people to click — and the formula gives a great way of doing it. And as is always the case, the content needs to back up the headline. This article certainly did that. Great help in creating a great headline… by getting to what the reader needs. Great idea with Quara and Reddit. Now, to execute the info….

  • L West says:

    Super powerful, value-packed article for any serious writer! The headline creation equation removes all the guess work and maximizes the attention grabbing. I will be heading over to Quora & Reddit before naming my next piece.

  • Kathy Kaul says:

    Very informative and wonderful articles. Earlier I was like not properly using the words that create urgency. Thank you so much, I will try that out and see what happens with the CTR!
    Peace!

  • Jasmeet says:

    Very very informative article! Can you please publish more articles, I mean they are really really helpful. Anyway keep up the good work coming.
    Regards

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