Look, it could have happened to anyone….
You heard so much about the importance of ad headlines.
Read all the stats, like that famous one saying that only 2 out of 10 people will click your headline and so on.
And it’s no surprise that just when you’re about to write your ad…
No words came out.
And even if they did, it would be hard to imagine anyone clicking on what you wrote.
But what if there were strategies to write headlines that get prospects swarm to ads? Or formulas you could follow to quickly create ads guaranteed to attract clicks?
Well, there are. And that’s exactly what I’m going to show you in today’s post.
Let’s get started then.
3 Prerequisites of a Strong Advertising Headline
Before we discuss the formulas, let’s focus on one more thing – what a good headline must accomplish.
The role of a headline is not just to attract someone to your ad.
It should also set the tone for the rest of the ad and the expectation the ad and subsequently, its landing page should deliver.
And thus, a strong headline:
Must catch the targeted prospect’s attention.
It sounds cliché, in know but it’s true:
When writing your ads, you should target only your ideal prospects – people who:
- Need your product,
- Have the money to pay for it and,
- Are in a position to buy it now.
And yet so many advertisers try to sell to anyone.
The best ads are always the ones that seem as if they were written specifically for you. When you read them, you feel as if whoever wrote them knew everything about you and your problems.
Your headline must achieve the same thing for your prospects.
It must also make a promise
Here’s the catch:
Unless the headline tells a prospect what’s in it for them, they’ll never read the rest of the ad.
Your headline thus must make a promise, an offer the rest of the ad will reaffirm.
It should introduce the rest of the copy
Even though your ad will be no longer than the maximum 90 characters, you’ll pack it with information to convince the user to click to the landing page.
And a headline should serve as an introduction for that copy.
In other words:
The role of the headline is to sell the prospect the idea of reading the rest of the ad.
So, with those 3 characteristics in mind, let’s dive into the formulas then.
Let’s kick off with the easy part, actual formulas and ready-made recipes you could start using in your Facebook ads right away.
For that I’m going to use the advice of my copywriting hero, Bob Bly. In his fantastic book, “The Copywriter’s Handbook” he presents 8 headlines that are guaranteed to compel readers to take action.
1. Direct Headlines
It’s a common myth that to grab the user’s attention, a headline must be a catchy wordplay.
But nothing is further from the truth.
Sometimes stating the offer or the selling proposition directly is the most effective way to get Facebook users to noticed the ad.
Direct headlines, as the name suggests, go right to the point. They’re not trying to be clever or witty but simply state what you offer. For example:
- New superman t-shirts in stock now!
- Grumpy t-shirts – 30% off,
- Free Facebook Ads Guide.
These headlines work because they don’t force user to think but present what the ad is about in a clear and direct way.
2. Indirect Headlines
Indirect headlines work in the opposite way.
They target our natural curiosity. Reading them should raise questions in the reader’s mind that are answered in the body of the ad. For example:
Headline: “What to Expect from Email Marketing”
Body: “An Email marketing course revealing every strategy that works.”
Here are some other examples:
3. News Headlines
We humans are suckers for news.
We want to be in the know, all the time.
It’s no surprise then that headlines containing latest news work so well at attracting our attention.
Therefore, if you have news about your product or service, announce it in the headline.
- Maybe you’ve introduced a new product.
- Added a new feature or made significant improvements to an existing one or,
- Came up with a new application for a product.
All these could form a base for great headlines:
- Wunderlist is Now Microsoft!
- Introducing the New Omnifocus.
- Things for OSX. Finally with Folders.
- We’re Now Shipping to Canada.
News headlines work particularly well when used in ads targeted to Custom Audiences based on past customers.
Take this headline for instance:
“Things for Mac. Finally with Folders.”
It would be hard to understand to anyone except a Things app user who suffers from the apps lack of folders support. And thus, targeting the headline at current app users would surely result in high CTR.
4. How-to Headlines
Starting your headline with “how-to” is a surefire way to grab attention.
To quote Bob Bly:
“Many advertising writers claim if you begin with a how-to, you can’t write a bad headline. They may be right.”
How-to headlines work as they offer a promise of information and solution to a reader’s problems, i.e.
- How to manage a remote team.
- How to grow your business with social media.
- How to increase your ad revenue.
These headlines are also super easy to write, providing that you know your audience and have identified their main pain points, of course.
5. Question Headlines
Did you know that questions are the main brain influencers?
A good question can arouse our curiosity and yes, draw attention.
But for that to happen, the question must relate to something a reader empathize with or would like to know more about.
“Is the way you use social media costing you reputation and sales?”
When writing question headlines, make sure that you ask about something a reader already knows about.
But try to communicate that there might be something they don’t know about it yet.
This strategy is called curiosity gap and it focuses on the fact that we are not curious about something we know nothing about.
But once we discover that our knowledge is plagued, we immediately want to know more.
6. Command Headlines
Command headlines tell readers exactly what to do. They start with a strong verb demanding action and proceed to describe what action the reader should take. For instance:
- Grab This Free Course Now!
- Get On the List Before It’s Too Late!
- Try Ignoring this Ad!
7. Reason-Why Headlines
This is one of the most common techniques used when writing list posts blog titles but it can be used equally well in advertising.
The “Reason why” headlines work in a simple way – they suggest tips or benefits of using a product or service.
8. Testimonial Headlines
No one can sell your product better than a customer.
Their words are often the best proof to convince prospects that your product or service has helped others and thus could help someone else too.
And sometimes the easiest way to create an attention-grabbing headline is to use a direct quote from a client:
- “[Product] helped me increase sales by 132%”
- “After switching to [Product] our productivity has never been better.”
This type of headline could work really well if you’re targeting Lookalike Audiences. Presenting a testimonial by someone similar to the target audience would make the ad more relevant to them.
There are also certain strategies that could help you make the most of the formulas we’ve just discussed.
In this (amazing!) post, Courtney Seiter lists 8 of them. Some of these strategies relate to formulas we’ve already discussed in the post (i.e. curiosity, questions or how-to’s).
There are however some interesting ones there.
I’m only going to summarize them here but I recommend you read Courtney’s post to find out the psychology behind each of these strategies:
Surprising a Reader
This strategy works because our brains love novelty. Apparently our brain’s pleasure centers activate when we face unexpected but pleasant things. And thus surprise is a stimulating factor that gets our attention.
Did you know that negative superlatives (i.e. worst, never) make the headline perform better than positive ones (i.e. best, always)?
According to a study by Outbrain, headlines with positive superlatives performed 29% worse than ones with negatives in them.
Referencing the Audience
I’m sure you know quite well how important it is to properly target your ads.
Let’s face it, it can make or break your entire campaign.
Did you know that you could also highlight the audience in the headline and prequalify your leads in the process?
Simply reference who you target in the ad’s headline to communicate who you really want to talk to.
How to act on this information
- Take a look at your product, audience and campaign goals to see what formula would work best for it.
- Share this post to your audience to increase your credibility and raise authority profile.