- Generate 50+ headline ideas without hurting your brain
- For conversion copywriters, product marketers, SaaS marketers
- Headlines ready in less than 5 minutes!
You don’t have 3 hours to write headlines or crossheads.
“Spend 80% of your copywriting time on the headline,” you’re told. And for good reason. Headlines and crossheads on a website have a gargantuan job. (Hence this mastery program.) They have to:
- Grab readers by the eyeballs <– ouch but yes
- Make the visitor feel something
- Sparkle with crystal-like clarity
- Fit the messaging hierarchy down the page
- Save the planet from being hit by an asteroid
That’s why when it comes to headlines and crossheads, not even the cleverest copywriter can hit the jackpot in a handful of tries. To get to the gold, copywriters work all the crappy headlines out of their system first.
But if the CMO wants the wireframe by tomorrow, you just don’t have the luxury to become a headline hermit and hide in your copy cave.
You have to strike gold—like, right now.
Here’s what to do: Get ChatGPT-4 to give you headlines so you have something to work with. The process goes like this:
- Prompt ChatGPT-4 to generate 50–200 headlines in less than 5 minutes
- Pick out the diamonds in the rough
- Polish ’em up
- Publish your conversion copy with a relaxed smile on your face, ’cause you didn’t even break a sweat 😏
The following is just one example of a product crosshead I wrote with the help of ChatGPT 4:
Step 1: To use ChatGPT to write headlines, start with a pain point
If your product cures a pain that users experience with competitors—Dawg, you gotta hit that!
Because pain points are great fodder for punchy headlines that resonate with your competitors’ dissatisfied customers. With pain points, you can use ChatGPT to write headlines galore!
Which means: Voice-of-customer research is key. It always was, always is, and always will be.
But if you’re in a bind and can’t spend hours researching, you can do some fast-and-furious review mining with ChatGPT in less than 30 minutes.
In fact, the two pain points I used for today’s exercise came from an AI-assisted pain-point analysis I wrote about here.
The two pain points we’ll focus on today are:
- Steep learning curve/complexity of the software
- Limited customization for invoices, proposals, and contracts
Step 2: Prompt ChatGPT to pump out headlines, ~50 at a time
If you used ChatGPT-4 to list out the pain points, you can continue prompting it for headlines in the same thread.
Or you can start with a new thread—but be sure to give your bot enough context about your product, the competitor’s product, and the pain point you want to focus on. Like this:
Copy-paste this prompt:
You are a conversion copywriter for a new [product or product category]. One of the unique value propositions of this new [product] is that it does not have the following pain point: [insert pain point]. Craft 50 product headlines that make this unique value proposition clear. Assume the reader has experienced this pain point with other products. Dig into that pain point by alluding to their past experience and promising a better experience with the new product. The headlines must talk to the reader directly using "You." Use emotion and empathy, and simple, direct language.
If you have specific phrases from your VoC research, you can add something this to the prompt, the way I did:
Incorporate the words “newby” “intuitive” “overwhelming” and similar words.
ChatGPT will do its thing and dump a bit of a trash heap in front of you. But let’s be honest—so will any copywriter.
The goal is to find a few diamonds in the rough and turn them into bling-bling copy for your website.
Here’s what I got:
Step 3: Decide which headlines have potential
Skim through the output. What stands out, and why?
This is where you have to think like a conversion copywriter.
You’ll notice I highlighted a few phrases:
- “Navigate like a pro”
- “Clunky systems”
- “Ditch the learning curve”
- “You’re an expert from Day One”
- “No newby feels left behind”
- “Simplicity is our middle name. Feel the ease with every click.”
Here are some headline variations I came up with by stitching the above phrases together into headlines and subheads/body copy.
Step 4: Repeat the process for other pain points as needed
For my second pain point, I focused on lack of customization for invoices, contracts, and proposals.
Fill in the blanks of the prompt formula, like so:
Now, this time I was disappointed with ChatGPT’s output. And so I told my bot why I didn’t like the headlines it gave me, and I entered another prompt:
These sound too fluffy and cheery, which makes them boring. Try sarcasm, humor, and more concrete language. Dig into the pain point of [add description] more by making the frustration palpable.
ChatGPT 4 came back with another 50. There were a few good ideas:
But I still felt like it could do better. As you can see, for some weird reason, every headline started with a yes/no question. And 99% of the time, yes/no-question-headlines (“Are you ready to X?”) are not effective because they can make your brand sound unsure of itself.
And so I told ChatGPT:
You're using too many questions. Try again without using yes/no questions in the headline.
I was able to get a few more ideas on the table. Check it out:
Here’s the copy using ChatGPT’s ideas:
And of course, for each headline that uses a phrase from ChatGPT, you can try lots of variations.
Let’s say I want to play around with the “Design Dark Ages” theme, I could write:
A: Proposals that aren’t stuck in the Design Dark Ages
B: Your proposals don’t have to look like they’re from the Design Dark Ages
D: Set your proposals free from the Design Dark Ages
Basically, each solid idea you get from ChatGPT will instantly give you 5–10 more variations.
And that’s one of the awesome advantages of AI. If you hit a dead end, you can dust yourself off and try again. Work your angles. It takes less than a minute to rework your prompt and get another bucket of headlines.
Plus, when you see bad headlines, often this “anti-inspiration” lights a fire under your butt to create something way better. It’s just lube to your writerly gears.
I tried this AI prompt on my favorite vegan chocolate bar brand. Here’s what happened.
I wanted to test this prompt in a completely unrelated industry and product: Vego, a vegan chocolate company that has blown me away with vegan chocolate that:
- actually tastes delicious
- melts in your mouth
- is seriously reminiscent of classic Swiss or Belgian milk chocolate
As someone who’s tried every vegan mylk chocolate bar on the planet, I’ve tasted my fair share of duds. I’m familiar with the pain point of biting into a brick that is too sweet, somewhat flavorless, and not nearly creamy enough.
Ever since Vego entered the market, I’ve been obsessed.
For fun, I decided to use my pain-point headline prompt to create better crossheads for their product website.
But first, take a look at the original:
As a happy customer, I can tell you this crosshead doesn’t do Vego justice.
Here’s the ChatGPT prompt, adapted to the product and pain points:
Here are the 50 headlines from ChatGPT:
Combining some of the highlighted ideas, I came up with the following crossheads and body copy:
Key tips and takeaways
- Always remember to give ChatGPT context. You’d do the same for a junior copywriter. You can use my review-mining hack as context, or you can just tell ChatGPT, using clear, concrete, concise language.
- Even bots can get stuck in a rut. Like the way ChatGPT decided, randomly, to start each headline with a yes/no question. When that happens, tell ChatGPT why those headlines are no good and ask it to recast them. Just be specific when you re-prompt. Experimentation is your friend.
- At some point, your bot may start to sound like it’s had too many beers. Mixed metaphors. Incoherent lines. Buzzword bingo. If you notice your outputs are starting to degrade, just wipe the slate by starting a new thread. I’ve noticed I’ll get a variety of outputs on the exact same prompt just by starting a new thread. And last time I checked, having an extra 50, 100, or 150 headlines to work with isn’t a bad thing!
- Keep your headline batch size to about 50. I’ve found that 50 headlines at a time gives you a good sampling. A bucket of 20 doesn’t give you enough to rummage through, while a bucket of 100 gives you too much of the same junk.
- Don’t overprompt ChatGPT until you get a perfect headline. You’re better off taking bits and pieces of what it generates and turning it into a finished headline or crosshead.
- Write compelling headlines for comparison pages
- Write product headlines showing how your features make customers’ lives easier
- Stack your product’s unique selling points against competitor pain points
- Write seal-the-deal headlines to convert visitors who are thinking of switching vendors
- Create product headlines to test in a campaign or on a message-testing site like Wynter.
Get the scoop on what makes for a scroll-stopping headline
Happy prompting and writing!