How to get more people to read
your ad, post, white paper, or book
In his must-read classic, Tested Advertising Methods, John Caples wrote that “how to” in a headline was an effective way to draw readers. He backed the claim with data from split-copy tests.
The book was published in 1932. I didn’t get my hands on it until 1983, so I tried my own split-copy tests. They revealed that “how to” was still powerful.
A fan of what works over what makes for great art, I began using “how to” for my clients whenever it applied. Most went with it and ended up pleased with their results. A few, however, not unlike children who won’t taste a food they think looks yucky, refused even to test it. They were unmoved by—or, I suspect, they didn’t accept—the data.
Why? Because, they said, “how to” was cheesy, unprofessional, old fashioned, a cliché, or some other such meaningless term.
Today I received an e-letter from Weebly.com, the website app used to create this site and blog, listing this month’s five most-read articles. I couldn’t help noticing that the first two words in the headlines of three of them were “how to.” The remaining two were also how-to articles, with headlines that implied as much.
So here’s how to get more people to read your ad, post, white paper, or book. When it applies, put “how to,” or something that implies “how to,” in your headline.