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What’s Wrong with This Headline?

January 30th, 2009 by Bob Bly

There are several companies selling programs that teach you how to make a little extra money in your spare time by participating in market research surveys or focus groups. I sell such a product myself:

One of these companies sent me an e-mail promoting their program. The subject line read: “Get Paid to Evaluate Products.”

The “get paid” part sounds good. But “evaluate products”? Is that something you are dying to try? I thought not.

We get good results marketing our program online. The e-mail subject lines we use are “Get Paid to Give Your Opinion” and “Make $125 an Hour Giving Your Opinion.”

I think “give your opinion” is stronger than “evaluate products,” because most of us love to give our opinions — on just about anything. And in my subject line, you now get paid handsomely to do it.

My “Get Paid to Give Your Opinion” is an example of a swipe file in action: I borrowed it from an ad Richard Armstrong wrote to sell a book on how to get comped at casinos. His headline:

“Get Paid to Gamble”


This entry was posted on Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 4:39 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

50 responses about “What’s Wrong with This Headline?”

  1. Pavel Davydov said:


    I think the best template headline for such offers would be this:

    “Get Paid to Try/Use … [product and what it does]”

    Using something for free and getting PAID for that — isn’t it a nice appeal?)

  2. dianacacy said:

    The headline “Get Paid to Evaluate Products” doesn’t connect to the reader. Who talks like that?

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about evaluating anything in their daily speak. Like, if a friend was trying this new restaurant buffet, he would say “I’m going to try out the new food.” Not “I’m going to evaluate the new food.”

  3. Anne said:

    “Get Paid to Evaluate Products” would be a good draw…for some. The key is the first three words. “GPT” (“get paid to”) sites in general are of such interest that the phrase “GPT sites” alone (note: using the acronym) turns up 177,000 Google results, and there are forums specifically devoted to identifying these “earning opportunities”. Getting paid to evaluate products would appeal to those who want to get free product samples and/or earn a few extra dollars. As a side note: the money- and work-related online forums of some of the major websites for women get a significant number of posts regarding “GPT” opportunities, work from home scams, and links to coupons or freebies.

    My concern (from the perspective of the company paying for the product evaluation) would be that the pool of evaluators gained by such an e-mail may not closely represent the target audience for the product. That said, I have no data by which to evaluate this concern.

  4. Sean said:

    I agree with the point being made, but I can’t say I completely agree with the example.

    To me “Get paid to evaluate products” sounds more attractive because it sounds like a job description.

    “Advatorials” are ads that read like an editorial. A swipe file should contain more than great ads, like great editorials, magazine covers, and yes, job listings. Aren’t they just ads for job searchers?

    If your target audience lost a job, or is afraid of loosing one. They’ve been looking through plenty of job listings and would be ready to respond to something in a like format.

    Its still not good writing, but marketing isn’t about writing- its about knowing your audience.

  5. Jessica @ThriveYourTribe said:

    I think Sean makes a great point about the audience–thinking through who I know who’d respond to either one, it’s split pretty much 50-50. I think with “evaluate products” there’s a certain ego appeal going on (you’re the expert and we need your help), and since I know people who are evaluating products *anyway*, I’d imagine they’d jump at the chance to get paid.

    You’d definitely attract a very different pool of people with one over the other, so it just depends which pool you want :-). With the “Get Paid to Gamble” example, though, there’s an edge of the illicit. I wonder what the results would be with something like (pardon my language): “Get paid to b*tch.”

  6. dianacacy said:

    hmmm… good points. And I thought I was odd because I know a few people who would say ‘evaluate’ in normal-speak.

    This makes me wonder: “What group is this ad targeting?”

    I can see how ‘Get paid to’ is going to get attention at first, but we need to know how they are using the ad to make a proper judgment on the rest.

  7. Ken Norkin - Freelance Copywriter said:

    I think Diana, Paul and Bob in the original post are right that regardless of whether prospects would ever *say* “evaluate products,” it’s a weak headline that’s not likely to elicit the emotional or visceral “I want” response — which is, after all, what direct response marketing is all about.

    Paul’s and Diana’s suggestions of “try,” “use” or “try new” are much stronger. Those are words that people really use to describe what the advertiser wants them to do.

    I’d suggest testing an even longer headline: “Get paid try new products and tell us what you think.”

    I’d actually prefer a one-syllable word in place of “products,” but all I can think of are “stuff” (which might work with some targets) and “things” (which comes too close to rhyming with “think”).

  8. Ken Norkin - Freelance Copywriter said:

    Of course, that should have been “Get paid to try new products and tell us what you think.”

    (Editing of posted comments would be a nice function to have.)

  9. Bob Bly said:

    Just FYI, my ad and the other one I talk about are aimed at the same market: business opportunity seekers looking for a spare-time income they can earn at home — and NOT people looking for a 9 to 5 job.

  10. dianacacy said:

    My gut says that “evaluate” does not connect with the targeted audience here.

    Yes, I said after my first comment that I did know a few who use the word ‘evaluate’, but they’re honestly people I know through my programmer husband. The geeky-minded types, and who I suspect do not represent the majority.

    I would have a hard time using ‘evaluate’ in the headline.

    ‘Products’ doesn’t bother me as much. I really do hear a lot of people ask, “Have you used their products yet?” Now, if the copy was aimed at gaining people to try a specific set of products, then I could see how using different wording could benefit.

  11. Bob Bly said:

    Dianacacy: What about “review,” “try,” “use,” or “test”?

  12. Ken said:

    If the main goal of the subject line is to get the person to open the email, then having ‘get paid’ with anything may be good enough.
    A “how to” type headline may also work well.
    So might a subject line in the form of a question.

  13. Tristan said:

    The trick is, that when I see something like “get paid to give your opinion” it sounds like getting something for nothing, and I write it off as bogus.

    Getting paid to “evaluate products” or “review products” sounds more hands on, like I’d be actually doing something for the money, and hence, the bogus alarm wouldn’t go off, even though it’s the same thing.

    Pavel’s comment to include the specific product could be good if it’s a buzz worth product, like an iPhone or something.

  14. Cynthia Maniglia said:

    I like what Tristan said, and I agree with the point made that “Getting paid to ‘evaluate products’ or ‘review products’ sounds more hands on.” I’d have to add maybe a little more “scientific.” And also it sort of speaks to a more educated crowd … people who “evaluate” things based on “facts,” rational people, not just “opinated” people. What’s that saying – “opinions are like @ss%*!@s; everyone has one.”

    OK – I’ll stop with the quotation marks already!

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