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Last updated Fri Jan 27 2023

6 Headline Formulas That Will Make Your Popup Irresistible to Read

By Paweł Ławrowski

Oh, I’m sure you know the feeling…
You’ve created a killer popup. You’ve come up with an offer you thought no visitor could refuse. And you’ve put it in as plain popup copy as possible.

But no one reads it…
Visitors dismiss your message without a glance and close it the moment it pops up on the screen.

But you know, the reason for this might be quite simple:
Your headline failed to grab their attention.

That’s what I’m going to help you overcome in this post. I’ll show you six headline formulas that will make your popup irresistible to read.
And then I’m going to show you examples of how other companies use those formulas to create engaging popups.

Let’s begin…

The Role of the Headline

Before you write a killer headline, you first need to learn the four roles it plays in the process of converting a visitor.

The first part is obvious:
A headline must attract someone’s attention.
According to an eye-tracking study by Eyequant, large text (typically a headline) will draw the visitors eyes.
So that one’s simple.
But that’s not all.

A headline should also make a bold promise; one a visitor will not want to miss.
Your headline should tell the visitor what’s in it for them. Otherwise, they’ll never want to read the rest of your popup.

It should also help select the audience.
You don’t want signups from people who could never become clients.
These could be people who don’t need your product, can’t afford it, or don’t represent your target market.
A clever headline should help you filter those people out and attract only the best leads to your offer.

And finally, a headline should convince a visitor to read the rest of the popup.
As Nathan Safran points out in this article, 80% of readers never make it past the headline. Only 2 of them will read the rest of the copy.
But without this additional text, your popup is pretty much worthless. The majority of visitors will need more information before signing up or converting in any other way you expect from them.
And it’s your headline’s job to sell them the idea of reading it.

To summarize:

  • A headline must attract someone to your popup.

  • Make a bold promise they will not want to miss.

  • It should help you select the audience.

  • And convince a visitor to read the rest of the popup copy.

And here are formulas that will help you make it happen.

#1. Direct Headline

By far, the simplest formula to write.
And it’s also one of the most effective ones.
Direct headlines state the offer or the selling proposition in the most obvious and direct way.
They’re not trying to be clever or use wordplay to communicate some hidden meaning but go straight to the point.
For example:

  • Get 30% Off

  • Free Shipping

  • New products in stock

This formula works because it doesn’t force the person to analyze the headline. Instead, it presents the offer or value proposition in the clearest way possible.

headline example

#2. Question Headlines

Did you know that we are naturally wired to spot questions?
They arouse our curiosity and attract attention.
In fact, no matter how focused you are some task, the moment your brain realizes that someone might be asking you a question, you will immediately start paying attention. Guaranteed.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this headline formula works so well at engaging visitors.

A question headline, as the name suggests, poses a question to visitors.
However, it’s not just any question. For this formula to work, you should be asking something a reader can empathize with or would like to have answered.

For example:

headline with a question

#3. Command Headlines

You know:
Sometimes the best way to get visitors to do your bidding is by telling them exactly what to do.
And that’s the premise of using the Command Headline formula.
These headlines tell visitors what you want them to do, for example:

  • Wait!

  • Grab This Free Course!

  • Download This Report!

To write a compelling command headline, you need to start it off with an active command verb – Get, Grab, Download, Use, Visit, etc. and then follow it with describing the action.

exit popup headline example

#4. The Reason Why Headlines

You know:
Marketers don’t use these headlines very often on popups…
…and it’s a shame as they offer a tremendous opportunity for grabbing the right visitors’ attention, particularly if you’re promoting a lead magnet.
These headlines work in an easy way. They list features or benefits of using a product or service or offer tips to get them most of them.
Advertisers tend to use those headlines in online and print ads, for example:
“120 Reasons Why [Product] Will Help You Overcome [Objective]”

But this headline formula need not contain the actual phrase “reason why”. You can substitute it with phrases such as “ways to”, “steps” or “here’s how”.
For example:

headline example copywriting

#5. Surprise Headlines

We love surprises.
For one, unexpected things always get our attention.
And that’s because of how our brains work.

Our pleasure centers in the brain fire up whenever we experience something unexpected but pleasant.
Surprise also releases noradrenaline, a hormone responsible for concentration, into our systems. Because of that, whenever we are surprised, we immediately start paying close attention to whatever that has surprised us.
Therefore, surprise headlines are bound to engage visitors.

However, writing them poses some challenges.
First, you need to know your target audience well to identify what will surprise them (in a positive way, of course).
Two, you need to communicate it in a way that will engage them (just popping up with a word “Surprise!” might not cut it).

headline example popup

#6. News Headlines

We love the news.
From catching up with what’s happening with our friends on Facebook to following entertainment news to watching live broadcasts of the current events, we are suckers for up to date information.
And you can write headlines targeting this trait of our behavior, especially if you can announce some newsworthy updates:

  • Introducing a new product line,

  • Adding a new feature or offer,

  • Reducing prices on certain items,

  • Shipping to new destinations,

  • Being featured in an important publication or making a TV appearance and many others.

All these would make fantastic news headlines and immediately grab your target audience’s attention.

headline example ecommerce writing

And there you have it…

Six headline formulas that will make your popup irresistible to click.

How to Use This Information Right Now?

  1. Review your headlines. See which formulas you’re already using and test the other ones to measure their impact on conversions.

  2. Read our post6 Mind Tricks that Will Help Skyrocket Your Popups Conversions” for more advice on getting more juice out of your popups.

  3. Share this post with your network!

Paweł Ławrowski

Pawel is a Head of Growth at Wisepops and a Lead Generation&Pop-up Expert.