How to Write Good Subheads for Advertisements

Manhattan, Morgan Library & Museum advertising
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Writing subheads is easy once you know what a subhead is, and how it fits into the advertising medium you'll be writing. It's simply a sub-headline; a headline of its own, on a smaller scale.

Think of it as the second step in a conversation. The headline is meant to grab your attention, the subhead is there to keep it, and to get you to read on.
How you write your subhead will depend on the advertising medium you'll be using it in. For example, the use of a subhead varies greatly between print and online:

Print Ads

When you're writing print ads, you won't always use a subhead. It's an optional element of a print ad but its purpose is simple.
Your subhead will elaborate on your headline to pull the reader into the ad even more. ​Your headline hooks readers while your subhead reels them in.
The reason subheads are optional is because you can also hook and reel readers in with your headline alone. It doesn't mean you've failed if you use a subhead. It's just another method you can use to create an effective print ad that sells products and/or services.<br/>These samples show you the many ways you can use a subhead in your print ad:

  • Headline: Hit Viruses Smack in the Face
    Subhead: Kill 99.9% of cold and flu viruses with Kleenex Anti-Viral tissues.
    Brand: Kleenex
  • Headline: A Better Tomorrow Starts Today
    Subhead: Become an Avon Representative
    Brand: Avon
  • Headline: In the race against teething pain, 30 minutes is too long to wait...
    Subhead: Baby Orajel Wins
    Brand: Baby Orajel
  • Headline: Give 'Em a Reason to Come in Early.
    Subhead: It's a Good Night for Stove Top
    Brand: Stove Top
  • Headline: Going Green Starts Now
    Subhead: Create Your Own Masterpiece Today
    Brand: Sta-Green Lawn Fertilizer

Online Mediums

Using subheads within your website follows the same premise that other advertising mediums do except you now have to throw search engine optimization into the mix. You don't want to fall into the trap of thinking every subhead you write must be witty with a knee-slapping joke to connect with customers.
You have various uses for a subhead on your website. You can use a subhead like a print ad does, making the subhead elaborate on your headline. You also have the opportunity to use your subhead within the body of your copy for two important reasons:

  1. A website subhead can bring in additional traffic through SEO
    Your subhead on your website needs to be direct. Each subhead should use SEO copy to bring in the most amount of traffic. If you create a magazine-type subhead that uses clever wordplay, you're missing out on the opportunity to use SEO copy so that your website will show up higher in search engine rankings.
  2. A subhead can provide a visual break in long copy blocks
    A subhead can break up the copy on your website and helps readers navigate your content very easily. Think of your subheads like article subheads for your website. You're breaking up long blocks of copy with a subhead that makes it easy for visitors to find exactly what they're looking for within your content.

Sample website content with subheads might look like this:

Puttering Heights Golf Course is the only course located on a deserted island in Wales. There's a reason thousands of golfers book their trip a year in advance to play with us.

Challenging Golf Course

Our 18-hole course has been chosen as the "Most Challenging Golf Course" for 15 consecutive years in Golfers Anonymous magazine. Even professional golfers find Puttering Heights Golf Course a challenge to beat. 

Breathtaking Golf Course Views

Puttering Heights features 7,000 yards of a championship course built on an island off the coast of Wales. Chip Shot Digest recently named our course one of the "Most Beautiful Golf Courses."

On-Site Golf Training

Our golf instructors can show you how to play like a pro. They even serve as guides when you're playing the Puttering Heights course to give you tips and tricks

Use your subhead to its maximum potential no matter what medium you are writing in. If you're not putting as much effort into your subheads as you do your headline and the body of your copy, you're wasting valuable ad space.