Increase Conversions with 3 Headline Hooks

plain book jut out a bookshelf

Do you ever wander through a library aisle you would normally avoid?

Perhaps you’re a fiction reader who ambles into the autobiography section. Surprisingly, a cover grabs your attention and you check out a book you’ve never heard of.

What was it that caused you to act? Just one short glimpse at the title.

That’s telling.

Fool-Proof Headline Formulas

Headlines matter. A lot.

Researchers estimate that in today’s content-saturated culture, only 8 out of 10 readers make it past the headline of most pieces. In 2016, an academic study of bit.ly links to BBC, CNN, Fox News, New York Times, and Huffington Post articles found that 59 percent of the links were never clicked.

And even if you do get readers past the front door, you still need to bring them to a point of purchase.

Which headlines best engage readers and maximize response? Here are three headline formulas to increase your conversions:

“The Best” List Headlines

Readers are selfish.

When they engage with content, they want something of value.

Think about it from your own perspective. What kind of “hacks” grab your attention? Weight loss? Easy savings? Life management tricks? Most people wish to avoid sifting through information, so “best” headlines offer fast and easy value.

Best list headlines use a formula like this: The __ Best Ways to Get ______

The trick to this headline is to be concrete in your wording and to ensure corresponding content backs up your claim. Here are three examples:

  • The 20 Best Ways to Make Money on a Side Hustle
  • The 12 Best Ways to Make the Most of Your Commute
  • The 8 Best Ways to Give a Non-Threatening Sales Pitch

Threat-of-Loss Headlines

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is real. Just think of how tempting some phony clickbait ads can be!

FOMO headlines are a compelling motivator because they are time-sensitive and prompt vulnerability in the reader. As an entrepreneur, ask yourself these questions when crafting a threat-of-loss headline:

— What damage or cost can my service help people avoid?

— How will acting today save them money or inconvenience?

— If they forget to respond, who might they disappoint?

FOMO headlines use this formula: You’ll Be _______ if You _____________

For example:

  • You’ll Kick Yourself if You Miss This Early Registration Discount
  • Your Wife Will Be Stranded if You Cut Corners on Seasonal Auto Maintenance
  • You’ll Lose $200 if You Delay Your Renewal

You can use threat-of-loss headlines for both serious and light-hearted topics, so have fun and be specific!

Curiosity Headlines

One of the best ways to grab readers is to engage curiosity to affect change.

People are painfully aware of their shortcomings, so arouse their need to educate themselves so they can avoid danger or uncertainty. Tell them how they’re wasting time, losing money, missing out on helpful technology, or unintentionally hurting someone.

Curiosity headlines use a formula like this: What You Don’t Know About _______ Can _______

For example:

  • Here’s What You Don’t Know About Electric Cars That Could Bust Your Budget
  • Here’s What You Don’t Know About SEO That Could Harm Your Business
  • Here’s How Grain-Free Dog Food Can Increase Canine Heart Disease

Write Powerful Headlines They Won’t Ignore

Dull headlines tell consumers your content will be just as lifeless.

Do you want to elevate your headlines from mediocre to marvelous? Use the threat of loss, curiosity, or sneak peeks at the “best” options to boost curiosity, grab readers, and move people to purchase.

5 Ways to Make Your Newsletters Shine

newsletter-blog

What’s so great about vacation? It’s a chance to cut loose and take a break from the ordinary!

But vacation just wouldn’t be as fun if it wasn’t anchored to the sense of consistent routine in our lives. In order to vacate, you have to have a place or a routine to break AWAY from.

A Foundation to Build From

The same is true in design.

To have the freedom to challenge the norm, some type of coherent foundation must first be established. This is particularly true in multi-page publications like newsletters. One of the most important features of multi-page publications is consistency. So, before you go rogue in design, first you need to ensure each page looks like it belongs to the whole.

How can you create this sense of cohesion? With repeating colors, icons, fonts, bulleted lists that repeat a formatting style, matching pull-out quotes, and more.

Here are five strategies for organizing your next newsletter so you compel viewers to read and respond:

1. Avoid a different typeface or formatting arrangement for every article.

Instead, create a strong, consistent structure throughout the pages and add flair with boxed photos, pull-out quotes, or just ONE free-flowing graphic per page.

2. Make headlines clear and bold.

Most people skim newsletters, so headline text should be straightforward and easy to read. Use leading questions or creative subheadings to build suspense and entice the viewer to read more.

3. Keep alignment consistent.

To build an organized page, choose an alignment and stick with it.

If everything is left-aligned, photos should be cropped to this sharp margin as well.

Does this mean you can’t ever break the rules of the system you’ve created? No! A firm set of columns actually creates MORE space to break out of the grid. But when you do this, do it with gusto! Items that are just a smidge out of the normal alignment will look like a mistake.

4. Avoid Helvetica and Arial

If your newsletter seems drab, juice it up with heavy sans serif typefaces that create a strong visual hierarchy.

Often people default to Helvetica or Arial, but these just aren’t bold enough to create a strong contrast. Instead, invest in a sans serif family that includes a heavy bold version as well as a light subheading complement (such as Eurostile, Formata, Syntax, Frutiger, or Myriad). You’ll be amazed at the difference this contrast makes.

5. Create a Compelling Call to Action

Printed newsletters are a great way to build goodwill and reinforce brand awareness, but at the end of the day, you want readers to take action.

When scripting your text, ask yourself, “if the reader was going to act on the content in this newsletter, what would I want them to DO?” Brainstorm many call-to-action phrases and places they can be used in your design, and make this journey easy for the eyes to follow.

Ideally, there should be a call to action on each page with one very prominent “next step” CTA near the end of your piece. Here are a handful examples:

  • Subscribe Now!
  • Sign Me Up!
  • Activate _____ Today!
  • Find Out How!
  • Claim Your Discount!
  • Try it Yourself!
  • Schedule (or Book) __________!
  • Register Now!
  • Call for a Free Estimate!

Make Them Look Forward to Your Next Newsletter

Time is a precious commodity, and the moments people invest in reading your newsletter are important.

To make the most of this unique privilege, build a strong design grid with a few spectacular deviations. Create visually engaging publications with helpful takeaways, and your newsletters will be something your audience looks forward to reading!

Inspire Imagination with 4 Creative Design Catalysts

Inspiration and great idea concept. light bulb with crumpled yellow paper on blue background.

Do you enjoy creating?

Are you an illustrator, a graphic design specialist, or a photographer who loves to see ideas come to life?

If so, you’ve probably experienced a few slumps. Even the most innovative people need new inspiration from time to time. Ready to ignite a fresh perspective for your projects?

Here are some creative exercises that may spark your next fantastic idea.

4 Design Catalysts to Inspire Your Imagination

Loosen your turtleneck pullover and host an art night with friends.

If you create for a living, what better way to connect with your inner muse than to host a no-holds-barred, imaginative free-for-all with your best pals?

Tell guests to dress for a mess and drag out your paints, beads, clay, stamps, ink, and more. Remind people to leave the perfectionist self at home and have fun with the process. After all, some of the best art is spontaneous.

Takeaway: Creating things with friends reminds us that art is fun, and beauty can arise from unexpected sources.

Build and broaden your artistic muscle by doing icon reps.

Choose an icon (like a sun, heart, leaf, crest, or set of cherries) and create 25 thumbnail icons that depict its message and its meaning. If that’s too easy, try 50 or 100.

Start with basic sketches and transition into graphic design or large-scale renderings. As you build variations, try different shadings, color combinations, or typographic elements to stretch your normal design boundaries.

Takeaway: Forcing yourself to sketch the same thing in different ways can build and broaden your artistic muscle.

The next time you work on a concept, fill a full page with icon sketch versions of it before you settle on your design of choice. Begin with quantity and finish with quality!

Identify your core audience and ask yourself what subject would best connect with these viewers.

Then, brainstorm ways to feature the perfect person doing the ideal activity in perfect circumstances.

How can you best capture the age, gender, or appearance of this “perfect” individual? Experiment with collages, photos, silhouettes, stick figures, or only body parts (such as the hand, eye, or mouth).

Takeaway: Featuring the wrong people in your piece (or possibly the right people in the wrong atmosphere) can tank your design.

In contrast, a piece that features the right people in the right way can befriend viewers and make them extremely receptive to your product or message.

Tend your roots by asking yourself: “Why did I become a Creative in the first place?”

Make a list of passions and interests that led you to this stage in your journey. Then, cultivate these roots through revisiting some of the places or people who inspired you in the past.

Takeaway: Neglecting your creative soul apart from your professional commitments puts your growth as a person at risk. Nurture your nature, and momentum will freely flow in all that you do.

The Human-to-Human Connection

While many designers have a free spirit, often professionals end up spending a great deal of time alone.

However, much of our success in design is rooted in human-to-human connections. The connections you make will have a massive impact on how you see the world and what you create in response. So connect with others, connect with yourself, and have fun with your next best design.

3 Ways to Help Your Team Love Mondays

Waking up

In 1966, an American band called the “The Mamas and the Papas” released a song about Monday that captured the mood of millions of people regarding that dreaded first day of the workweek:

“Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day.

Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way . .

Every other day, every other day, every other day of the week is fine, yeah . . .

But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes . . . you can find me cryin’ all of the time.”

How to Kick Those Monday Blues

It’s true. Not many of us look forward to the start of the week.

Half of all workers will be late to their jobs on Monday mornings. The abrupt transition from a free weekend to the grind makes many people miserable. But Mondays don’t have to be a drag. While you can’t magically get your team excited to head back to work on Mondays, there are a few things you can do to make Mondays a bit better.

Ax Monday Meetings

How often do you say something like, “let’s follow up on that first thing Monday morning?”

The start of the week may feel like the perfect time to reconnect and launch a new week. However, research shows that Monday mornings are actually a time when many people are at their most energetic and creative levels.

Rick’s investment team found that, when scheduling Monday morning meetings, they unwittingly drained energy levels and decreased momentum. By giving team members several hours alone to start the day, Monday morning “jump starts” made mid-day meetings much more effective.

Team Breakfast

Pivotal, a software company based in San Francisco, believes company breakfasts are the key to building a cohesive company culture.

They actually serve breakfast EVERY DAY of the work week!

What makes Mondays better? Breakfast! Serving food warms people’s hearts and bonds your co-workers. Occasional Monday breakfasts can soften the workweek blues, build camaraderie in your team, and give people healthy fuel to launch into the routine.

A team breakfast doesn’t have to be strictly social. You can also use this time to brief people on announcements, share upcoming projects, or celebrate workplace wins for your team.

Friday Fun Days

A typical five-day workweek is a given for most managers.

But, did you know that 15 percent of companies have started implementing four-day workweeks?

Reusser Design, an Indiana Web app development company, slashed their hours from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursdays. Founder Nate Reusser says that the policy motivates everyone to work faster and with greater focus, much like the way people work just before going on vacation.

“You wouldn’t believe how much we get done,” Reusser said.

Four-day workweeks can boost morale and increase productivity. Employees with a shorter workweek are usually more enthusiastic when returning to work, and those energy levels fuel higher outputs.

Could your business consider taking one Friday off each month, or implementing half days on summer Fridays? A happier, more productive workforce may be worth the sacrifice!

Lighten That Monday Mood

In the US, approximately 100 million full-time employees aren’t engaged at work, which means a staggering 51 percent of people are slogging through their days on the payroll.

Underperformers can have a devastating effect on your company, but often a simple remedy can transform a negative work culture.

Look for ways to lighten up the Monday mood, and Mondays will lighten up on you!

5 Simple and Impressive Print Techniques to Strengthen Your Marketing Materials

Woman Reading Travel Flye On Sofa At Home

Individual design elements are the building blocks of today’s best marketing pieces, and with today’s technology, almost anything is possible when it comes to print.

Print products can vary in texture, color, shape, and finish, bringing a staying power that allows your company to shine strong among competitors.

Step Up Your Game with Memorable, Inspiring Print Promos

Here are five simple and impressive print techniques that can drastically improve the appearance of your materials.

1. Cut it Out

Whether it’s brochures, business cards, or door hangers, printed pieces aren’t limited to square or rectangular shapes.

Consider reshaping your invitation to match your logo, or creating a custom label in the shape of your most popular product. For brochures or folders, you can add custom-shaped pockets, a peek-through window, or die cuts that accentuate the featured product.

2. Add Texture

While embossing was originally known for its use in personalized stationery, today raised elements can be used in envelope flaps, business cards, hang tags, and more.

Embossing elevates your design from the background, providing a raised, textured effect. It can be used to create geometric patterns, add borders, or add a custom seal to product packaging.

3. Be Blunt

Adding contrast is one of the most effective ways to add spark to your print piece.

Contrast helps organize your design and establish a hierarchy, guiding viewers to the most important parts of your design.

Add contrast by mixing dark and light colors (like white fonts on deep, rich backgrounds), by using opposite hues in close proximity, or by mixing organic, fluid shapes with angled, geometric elements.

Contrast texture in your font pairings, graphic sizing, or in disrupted patterns like these.

4. Go Retro

Though the eye loves symmetry, the heart connects with the imperfect.

From scary scars to burned edging, imperfections in design can humanize your creations and strengthen the bond between a brand and its user.

Add retro elements by making things look dirty or ragged. Degrade pristine images with vintage photo filters, add blur or gradients to your designs, or add artifact images that scream authenticity.

5. Finish Well

Like dolloping whipped cream on your pie, adding a stock coating in your designs can bring a delicious finishing touch.

In addition to providing extra protection to your marketing materials, coatings can draw attention to key elements by adding texture and shine. Add sophistication with a glossy UV coating, shimmer with pearlescent glitter coatings, accents with spot varnishes, or coarse texture with grit coatings.

Coatings add class and show that you approach business with pride, which can make customers more comfortable working with you.

Create a Timeless Treasure

While new trends take shape every day, you can make a modern design statement with existing techniques that give your print materials a sleek twist. Great designs mix the old and the new to create timeless print pieces your clients will love. That’s just the beginning of what we can do for you.

 

Mastering the Psychology of Discounts to Make More Sales

price reduction 3D render illustration

What is the right strategy when it comes to discount marketing: presenting strong visuals, mystery offers, or the word “free” in your print ads?

Everyone is attracted to a deal, no matter the size. By using coupons or discounts, you appeal to shoppers in a unique way.

Incentives Prompt Action

When shoppers feel like they’re getting a good deal, they are excited and more willing to purchase.

Incentives also create urgency, build goodwill with clients, and dissuade people from looking for other offers.

Want to move more products? Experiment with discount tactics like these:

1. Dollar or Percentage Off

This discount type is the most widely used, simply offering a reduction on the original price, such as $50 savings or 40% off.

Discounts can be placed on specific products or applied to an entire order.

2. BOGO

Short for, “Buy One, Get One,” this discount type prompts customers to purchase additional items.

Examples of BOGO include, “Buy One, Get One Free” or “Buy One, Get 50% Off the Next Item.”

3. Quantity Discounts

Quantity discounts encourage shoppers to increase their order value to receive a discount.

For example, “Purchase two items and get the third free,” or, “Receive 30% off your $100 purchase.”

4. Rebates

A rebate is an amount that’s returned or refunded to customers after their initial purchase.

Often used for large-ticket items, the most common is a mail-in rebate. One example? Listing a price as, “$499 after rebate.”

5. Free Shipping

Increasingly popular among online business owners, this removes the shipping cost associated with any order.

Many merchants offer free shipping for a specific order amount, such as “Free shipping when you spend $25 or more.”

Test Discount Variations to Find A Formula for Success

Since there are so many ways to frame discounts, it can be helpful to test multiple variations of a discount to see which are most impactful.

For example, you could offer a segment of your VIP customers a percentage discount and another segment a dollar-off discount to test which discount best appeals to core customers. Or you can experiment with varying communication channels, length of promotions, or discount “add-ons” (like free shipping or store credit for a future purchase).

Here are some examples to consider:

Catherine’s Women’s Clothing: Private Offer

In an ad pitching swimwear specials, Catherine’s framed a gleaming yellow swim ring afloat a dreamy blue pool.

The overlaid text offered one of two choices: a “Buy 1 Get 1 Free Clearance Item,” or “Private Offer Up To $100 Off.” Catherine’s used imagery that transports viewers to a place they want to be, evoking an emotional fondness for swimwear. The bright floaty draws eyes to the deal, and the company wisely gave two sale options to accommodate the price points of individual customers.

J. Crew: Flash Sale

In a spread featuring outdoor apparel, J Crew positioned a yellow sailboat cruising the waves of a dark blue backdrop, using this pitch: “Smooth seas and clear skies – perfect conditions for a flash sale. Extra 30% Off & Free Shipping, Use Code: SetSale.”

For this flash sale, J. Crew took advantage of good sailing weather to create urgency and nostalgia that tied to real life. Because this ad catered to unique preferences and behaviors of a particular market segment, the piece moved beyond a sale into the emotional story of its readers. This, combined with a compelling offer (and clever coupon code), brings a winning combination.

Once you have a better understanding of your most effective offers, you’ll be a great position to mix up your campaigns and boost customer engagement.

4 Mistakes that Make Your Ads Fall Flat

Common Mistakes on old book Motivational Call. Conceptual photo lot of people do same action in wrong way

Have you ever seen someone make a pitch without clearly selling their product?

In business, sometimes we get so close to our product that it’s easy to assume every reader “gets it.” Marketers spend big bucks to grab attention but fail to craft a message that truly connects. Take this example:

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is a technology company offering innovative computing and graphic solutions for work, home, and play. AMD has begun partnering with a famous auto company to significantly reduce design time on new electric vehicles.

AMD recently ran a 2-page BusinessWeek ad with this headline: “AMD Makes It Possible.” The problem? People have no idea what AMD is. So what would cause people to keep reading?

In this ad’s copy section, AMD mentioned that they were able to cut design time on electric cars by over eight months. By burying this information under an obscure headline, AMD confused the reader and probably lost many sales. A better, more specific headline might have said this: “How AMD Cut Design Time From 12 Months to 10 Weeks.”

Quick Fixes to Make Your Message Count

When you use print advertising, you have approximately three seconds before your prospect moves on.

You need to make your message count! Here are four things to avoid in your next ad or direct mail campaign:

1. Too Much Copy

Too much copy is boring to read.

Often direct mail buries the lead under volumes of copy, hoping to save the best for last. This assumes people are interested in your content and that they’ll read to the very end. Even if you’re lucky, only a handful will.

Instead, try this:

  • Use loads of white space.
  • Keep things short.
  • Use sizzling adjectives and action-packed verbs.
  • Put your main benefits in your headlines and other prominent places.
  • Do all you can to make your offer leap out when people scan the page.

2. Focusing on Benefits vs. Value

The service you sell has its benefits, but sharing those features isn’t enough.

Customers want to know more than “what’s in it?” they want to know, “what’s in it for ME?” If your coffee pot has a delay start option, don’t just share this perk, describe the value it brings. Which statement do you find more compelling?

Equipped with a Delay Start Feature

— OR —

Prefer Breakfast in Bed?

Delay Start Brings Piping Hot Coffee as Your Feet Hit the Floor!

3. No Clear Call to Action

One of the primary reasons print ads fail is a lack of clarity.

Does your piece contain a clear, single call to action? Is this call large, memorable, and easy to follow through with?

In today’s market, it’s not enough to give people a reason to buy your product. You must also show them why they need to act now. Don’t leave an offer open-ended – put a deadline on it (like, “Shop today! Sale ends on Monday!”) Or use a personalized URL, QR code, or concrete numbers to grab attention. Try something like: “Book today! 15% off your next visit,” or “order by Sunday for 1-day shipping!”

4. Vague Visuals

When designing an ad, ask yourself, “who is my target market?”

If it is 17-28 year-olds, be sure your images reflect this demographic. When possible, use photos of your target customers putting your product or service to use. When prospects wonder WHO your ad is for, your images should show “WHO” with a “when, how, or why.”

Tired of Falling Flat in print?

We all make mistakes from time to time, but using these tips will ensure you don’t keep repeating those errors.

Be clear, be brief, and offer value and your print ads will undoubtedly hit the mark.