Headlines share the heart or big idea of your message. Subheads are miniature headlines placed throughout the copy. They make your message more readable and share key points.
Have you ever received an email or visited a web page where the copy was one long block? Or did it rambled on in uninterrupted paragraphs?
They are rather hard to read. I find myself wondering where the writer is going.
What are they trying to tell me? When will I get to why this is important for me?
And what are they trying to sell me or get me to do?
Even if the message is from someone I enjoy hearing from, it requires commitment on my part to wade through what they are sharing.
Often, if the reader is vested in the person sharing the message, they are still busy. They’ll set the message aside to read later. Only, later may never come. If an email, it may sit getting lost in a cluttered inbox. Worse, it may get filed for future reading or reference.
That’s not what any business wants for their messages.
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In my work as a copy and content writer, I see this problem all too often. It’s certainly something I avoid happening with my clients.
Now, If I could just get those who are messaging me to see how using subtitles can solve the problem—and keep me engaged.
I’ve found it’s hard to stay engaged with a business whose messages aren’t clear and easily digested. Here are some tips you can employ to use subtitles effectively and to your advantage.
There’s an easy pattern for knowing where to place subheads. If your message is more than 300 words long, you need subheads.
No section of your message should be longer than 300 words before the next subhead.
When you follow this pattern, you have maximum readability.
Every message you share, content, articles, blogs, emails, focuses like a laser on one idea.
Within that copy, each subhead has a focus. And within the subhead, each paragraph covers one thought and each sentence only one topic.
Think of creating an outline for your copy. Your Roman number I shares the promise or core idea in the title or headline. Each of the support pillars is a subset for that idea.
Those subsets become subheadings in your document.
Subheads keep your readers reading when using the same guidelines you follow for creating titles, headlines, or subject lines.
In long-form sales letters, each section engages the reader. Regardless of the type of message you’re writing, you want it to do the same thing. You want each part to make them want more.
Subheads in your message or copy help you do this.
Doing a brain dump on the first draft is OK to get started. Then the message needs refinement.
Each paragraph and each section should engage and keep the reader’s attention.
If you are taking a blog, article, or other copy and thin-slicing it into social media posts, each post focuses at most on one subheading. Indeed, each subhead becomes a social post.
They should stand on their own as a mini-headline to catch attention and engage.
Some people only read the subheads. If they don’t exist or aren’t enticing, you’ll lose them. They need to catch and keep the reader’s attention.
Other people only start reading when a subhead catches their attention. No subheads, and you lose this opportunity for engagement.
Both groups depend on your subhead to entice them to read.
In today’s world, especially in the US, people tend to scan far more than they read. That makes subheads critical for readers who just scan, to understand your message.
If the reader only reads your subheads, they should “get” your message.
One technique I use is to print out my draft and read through it, looking for snippets. They should be almost like inspirations or quotes. They are a few words that impart an essential aspect of my big idea.
Each snippet is a subhead.
Repurposed snippets become a social post—useful concepts in just a few words.
Including emotion, pain points, or trigger words makes them even more effective.
Judith Culp Pearson is a copywriter marketer who has been helping clients improve their ROI and client retention since 2015. A relationship-building writer, she engages your readers to increase sales and lifetime value. https://www.jucithculpcreativecopy.com.
Judith Culp Pearson receives three top honors
at the annual Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals in
Ft. Worth, Texas - October 7-9, 2023