The 4-U Formula For Crafting Killer Headlines [Infographic]

Jul 21 2015
Did you know headlines have a great impact on attracting readers to your content? Check out this killer 4U formula for crafting magnetic headlines + case st

Ever wondered why some blog posts get a lot more click-throughs than others? According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people read the headline, but only 2 proceed to read the content. No wonder experts suggest spending 50% of your content creation time coming up with the headline.

Surprising right? But when you think about it, it shouldn’t be ‘cuz we all filter our emails based on the subject line, Isn’t it? The internet has way more content than we can consume – and we are forced to make a selection based on the headline. So then, the secret lies in writing attractive headlines which piques the reader’s curiosity to come and read your content.

Writing catchy headlines can be tricky, as it is important to be authentic and attractive while not sounding too sales-y. To make this easier, Michael Masterson came up with the 4-U formula for writing attractive headlines. The key to using the 4U formula lies in asking the following four questions while writing your headline:Is your headline Unique?
Is your headline Useful?
Is your headline Ultra-Specific? 
Is your headline Urgent?

In my opinion, the 4U formula provides a great framework to generate magnetic headlines and here’s how:

Unique:If the reader has already come across a headline like yours, why would they click to read your content? Even if you content was unique, there is limited to grab your reader’s attention – so its important to make your headline unique.  What is it that makes your content exclusive?  What is it that your content offers to the reader that nobody else has – make sure to include it in your headline. For instance, I initially chose the headline “Why you need a responsive blog design” but posts with the same headline were all over the web. So in order to make it unique, I altered it to “Why a responsive blog design is important for SEO”.  The “for SEO” part made the headline unique.

Useful:If there is one thing that I’ve learnt from blogging, it is that readers come to a blog when they find the content useful and beneficial to them. Is your content offering something that is useful to your readers? Mention in the headline the biggest takeaway of your content for your audience. It is important that the reader believes you will solve their problem just by looking at the headline. Of course, you must also deliver on that promise.

Ultra-Specific:Consider these two headlines :

H1: 5 ideas to decorate your home
H2: 5 ideas to decorate your home using indoor plants
The first headline, although useful, is slightly vague and open-ended. It doesn’t mention exactly what the reader can expect from the blog post. Whereas the second headline mentions the exact benefit of the content to the reader. If there are any specifics that you could add to your headline to make it more interesting and trust-worthy for your target audience,  use it.
Urgent:


Include a sense of urgency to your headline if possible. Depending on your content, this may not be possible always – so if there is one U that you could leave out of your headline, it is the urgency factor. But if your content is time sensitive, highlight it. Why should the user read your content right now? What is it that they are going to gain/lose by reading/not-reading your copy right now? Make sure to imply this in your headline to make it more compelling!
Let’s examine a few example headlines to see the 4U formula in action, shall we?
H1. How to earn a living as a freelancer this year
This headline is unique, its useful for freelancers who are trying to make a full time income, its ultra-specific to freelancers, its urgent as its targeting this year which will definitely make freelancers click on it at one sight.
H2. 7 simple tricks to cut the bounce rate of your site in half
This headline is useful as it teaches you how to cut down the bounce rate of your site, its ultra-specific about cutting down the bounce rate by half and also specifies that the tricks are simple. It doesn’t have an urgency factor to it but its pretty unique in the information it imparts to the readers which is definitely attractive!
H3. 10 Ideas to refresh small spaces under $50
This headline is ultra-specific as it is sharing 10 ideas to refresh your spacing using less that fifty dollars. It is super-useful, offers unique ideas and although its not urgent, its definitely attention grabbing!Its so simple yet intriguing, right? This formula can be applied to all sorts of headlines – emails, blog posts, sales pages, e-books, e-courses, you name it.

This was my first time creating an infographic, do you like it? I would love to hear your feedback in the comments 🙂

Do you invest time in crafting attractive headlines for your blog posts? 

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  • Love the infographic, and this post was super helpful!

    Maddy, xo // UNSTITCHEDD

  • Love the infographic, and this post was super helpful!

    Maddy, xo // UNSTITCHEDD

  • Allison

    Very interesting, although I will say the urgency part is exactly what I don’t like about marketing, I don’t feel like you should have to scare readers into reading
    Allison from Mercuteify

    • Hi Allison! Yes it may look a bit salesy to add the urgency factor into headlines sometimes – but I guess its an essential part of marketing – specially for businesses centered around content marketing! And its more about attracting the customers than scaring I think 🙂 Again it varies for each individual based on their purpose and intention, we can just hope its genuine and authentic! Right?

  • Allison

    Very interesting, although I will say the urgency part is exactly what I don't like about marketing, I don't feel like you should have to scare readers into reading
    Allison from Mercuteify

  • Wow, this it’s a really useful infographics. Didn’t even knew about this percentage of readers.

    Mafer, Concientizando x

    • I know, surprising right mafer? Thank you! 🙂

  • Wow, this it's a really useful infographics. Didn't even knew about this percentage of readers.

    Mafer, Concientizando x

  • Great advice. The infographic is super helpful, thank you for sharing.

    Check out my latest post <3
    http://www.abigailalicex.com

    • So glad to hear that abigail! 🙂 Thanks so much!

  • Great advice. The infographic is super helpful, thank you for sharing.

    Check out my latest post <3
    http://www.abigailalicex.com

  • So glad to hear that abigail! 🙂 Thanks so much!

  • I know, surprising right mafer? Thank you! 🙂

  • Thank you maddy! <3

  • Hi Allison! Yes it may look a bit salesy to add the urgency factor into headlines sometimes – but I guess its an essential part of marketing – specially for businesses centered around content marketing! And its more about attracting the customers than scaring I think 🙂 Again it varies for each individual based on their purpose and intention, we can just hope its genuine and authentic! Right?

  • This is so helpful! Thanks you a lot!

    Love your blog by the way 🙂

    x- Joëlle | http://justanothersea.blogspot.nl/

    • Thanks so much joelle, your feedback means a lot 🙂 xx

  • This is so helpful! Thanks you a lot!

    Love your blog by the way 🙂

    x- Joëlle | http://justanothersea.blogspot.nl/

  • Thanks so much joelle, your feedback means a lot 🙂 xx

  • Such a great breakdown, Chaitra! Really love how you provided examples too. I was stuck on what to name one of my upcoming posts, but this gave me a ton of ideas. Thank you!! 🙂 Great job with the infographic too <3

    • Hey Allison 🙂 Thanks so much for your feedback – I am so glad it was helpful! So excited to talk soon <3 xo

  • Such a great breakdown, Chaitra! Really love how you provided examples too. I was stuck on what to name one of my upcoming posts, but this gave me a ton of ideas. Thank you!! 🙂 Great job with the infographic too <3

  • Neni

    Very useful tips. Thanks a lot!

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