The difference between a spammy headline and a normal headline is what exactly? It depends on the purpose of the headline. In other words, there is no normal, only what the purpose is.
The headline of this mini guide (How To Write Effective Headlines) could have been How To Write Effective Ad Headlines or How To Write Effective Content Headlines.
These two alternative headlines highlight a more specific purpose, and so we might have expected different content had the series been named differently.
This begs the question, why not do that then? Why not have a set of different guides? If you look back through all the stuff I’ve posted here, you’ll find numerous different items on these topics, but what’s been missing up to now is a generic guide to headlines. A meta level vision of their power.
In series 1, episode 6 of MadMen, Don Draper (a character based on the maverick Chicago adman Draper Daniels) says: “People want to be told so badly what to do, they’ll listen to anyone”:
If that’s true, then think about how that might work when applied to a headline: “Dan Draper Reveals Top Selling Ad Headline Secret”.
Who is Dan Draper? Those who’ve watched MadMen won’t even spot the spelling mistake, and those who’ve never heard of him have now found a new person to listen to. If you’re into writing ad headlines, this is a MUST CLICK headline.
If we changed it to this: “Dan Draper Reveals Viral Content Headline Secrets”, it’s the same thing (just a different audience).
By going meta, we’re stepping back a little and looking at what makes headlines work. This is just the tip of the meta iceberg though. Continue to part 2 here.