Headlines are good for websites, to attract attention.

But they are also perfect email subjects. To get people to open and read what you have written.

So if you know how to write a compelling headline, you already have a foot in the door, for whatever you have planned next.

First, a little bit of theory and psychology.

People will go to great lengths to avoid negative outcomes. Whether it’s preventing fatal errors in business, relationships, or more, people spend hours researching how to avoid making a mistake they fear could happen.

And the fear of loss is about twice as strong as the desire for gain. Yes, this has been researched, and it’s a real number. People would sacrifice twice as much not to lose something rather than to gain something identical.

Presenting potential dangers can be a powerful attention-grabber to fuel your headlines, clicks, and, ultimately, conversions.

The important thing here is to present “the fear” in a motivating way.

A product that prevents losing money. A service that will help you avoid an unwanted outcome. Everything depends on who your audience is.

The article has ten time-tested and proven formulas for fear-based headlines, along with examples for each.

Here are a few examples I like, which I’ve also tried in the past and can vouch for their effectiveness:

1. Do You Make These [insert mistakes] Mistakes?
Ex. Do You Make These Muscle Building Mistakes?
Ex. Do You Make These Email Marketing Mistakes?

4. (#) Warning Signs [insert undesirable event]
11 Warning Signs Your Blog Traffic Is About to Dry Up
7 Warning Signs Your Loved One May Be Heading for a Heart Attack

10. How [insert perceived enemy] Gambles With Your [insert item of value]: # Ways to Protect Yourself
Ex. How Google Gambles with Your Ad Budget: 7 Ways to Protect Yourself
Ex. How the Average Doctor Gambles with Your Life: 9 Ways to Protect Yourself

It’s straightforward to take these formulas and adapt it to practically any audience, for greater effectiveness and stronger message.

Try it out!


Headline Writing Guide: How to Write Fear-based Headlines