Oh I bet you know the feeling…
You set up a new batch of Facebook ads hoping for that converting traffic to arrive but…
Days pass with hardly anyone clicking your ads.
And even if they do, these visitors bounce off the landing page anyway.
It seems hopeless…
Or is it?
Many ads fail for a simple reason – they miss that one thing that could attract users.
- A great offer,
- Color that grabs the person’s attention,
- More convincing call to action and much more.
It’s sometimes hard to imagine what that thing is when you write the ad copy.
But it’s easy to find out when the ad is running – by split testing different options.
In this post I’ll give you some ideas for ad copy elements you could split test to improve your ads’ performance.
The Importance of Strong Ad Copy
There are just too many benefits of strong advertising copy to mention:
- It delivers the first impression of your business, product or service.
- It communicates your message,
- It compels users to take action.
- It determines if they’re going to click the ad.
- It often does all the heavy lifting in selling too.
In other words, it’s the most essential element of your advertising campaign.
Feature poor copy and your ad will flop.
But powerful words could help you grow your business and attract hundreds of new customers.
For that to happen though, you might have to test different approaches to three most important elements of every ad:
- Body copy,
- Call to Action,
Let’s see what split tests you could run in each one of them.
Part 1. Headline
No other element of your ad is as important as the headline.
In Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy calls it:
“[…] the telegram which decides whether the reader will read the copy.”
A good headline must achieve 4 tasks:
- Grab the user’s attention. This goes without saying, the first and foremost role of a headline is to attract attention.
- Define the audience. Your headline should also communicate whom you’re targeting with the ad. In other words, if you’re selling products for seniors, there’s no point in writing a headline that only young people will understand.
- Deliver a complete message. According to Ogilvy, 4 out of 5 readers will read the headline and skip the rest of the ad. For that reason alone you must ensure that it contains the entire sales message. Otherwise you’re losing 80% of your audience already.
- Draw the reader to the ad body. The role of the headline is also to sell the user the idea of reading the ad copy.
And there are a number of things you could test to find out what headline elements will achieve all 4 tasks:
1. Ask a Question Instead of Stating Benefits
So many headlines take the form of a statement.
But you could turn things around and test a question-based headline instead.
For one, questions make the user to stop, think and process your message more intensely.
In his amazing book, To Sell is Human, Dan Pink shares a story of an experiment conducted at the Ohio State University in which researchers tested the strength of a series of short pitches on changing specific school policy.
And turns out that whenever researchers presented their pitch as questions, participants were more likely to support the change than when presented the equivalent change as a statement.
Questions also engage the user.
Nobody wants to be sold to. But once the user feels a part of a conversation, she is more likely to want to hear your sales pitch.
That’s one reason why so many salesmen start their presentations with a power question.
2. Use Negative Superlatives
I already wrote about this method when listing mind tricks that could help you improve your Facebook Ads’ conversions.
So just to reiterate:
The majority of ad headlines focus on the positives.
But it turns out that the headlines containing negative superlatives perform much better!
In this study Outbrain discovered that headlines containing negatives perform 29% better than their positive counterparts.
This means that headlines such as:
- Best ways to cure acne or,
- X best father day gifts
would perform worse than:
- That’s not the way to cure acne,
- X Things you shouldn’t buy your father.
3. Test Different Word Order
In advertising even the smallest things can make a difference.
Like the order of words in the headline for instance.
Since most of users will only skim the headline from left to right, the very first words they’ll see on the left might have the greatest impact.
If they fail to capture their attention, they’re gone.
And so, consider testing a different word order, moving more important words and phrases to the start of the headline.
4. Include Power Words
I bet you’ve experienced it too:
Clicking on an ad only because a single word has caught your attention.
Perhaps you noticed the word Free. Or Because, You or any other power words we customers tend to respond well to.
In fact, last year after analyzing thousands of Adwords ads, SEMrush discovered that free, cheap, new and lowest were the most popular adjectives used by Google Advertisers.
Therefore, test if including some of the most persuasive words in the headline would have an effect on your ad’s performance.
Part 2. Body Copy
The role of your headline is to attract the user and give them a taste of what the ad is about.
But it’s often the body copy that does the heavy selling.
And there are a number of tests you could run to ensure it converts more users:
5. Test including a testimonial or other social proof in the copy
Social proof is a powerful way to influence people to take action.
In his 1998 experiments, David Wooten proved that when evaluating a product, customers were more likely to base their decision on the opinions of others (source).
That’s one reason why we pick a busy restaurant, even if it means waiting for a table to an empty one where we could get seated right away.
Or select products containing a claim of how many people have used them before us.
Therefore, you could test if including a testimonial or other social proof makes the ad perform better.
Here are some ideas how to include a social proof in the ad:
- Showing the number of times a particular item has been bought to date or,
- The number of reviews or happy customers,
- Display badges and media mentions,
- Displaying ratings and reviews and many more.
6. Communicate Scarcity
Customers perceive scarce items as more valuable.
The theory describing such behavior is called a commodity theory, first described by Timothy Brock in 1968.
Here’s how Michael Lynn described it in his 1991 paper “Scarcity Effects on Value”:
“According to the theory, scarcity enhances the value (or desirability) of anything that can be possessed, is useful to its possessor, and is transferable from one person to another.”
One test to confirm this theory, a 1975 research by Worchel, Lee and Adewole, asked participants to rate chocolate chip cookies. Participants were shown two jars, one containing 10 cookies, the other only 2. And even though both jars contained the same cookies, goods from the other jar (that contained just two items) were rated twice as higher as from the first container (source).
Commodity theory therefore means that you could persuade customers to buy more by communicating scarcity about a product.
Part 3. Call to Action
Not every Facebook ad contains explicit headline.
Many advertisers however include a short call to action at the end of the body copy or use the Facebook Call to Action button:
And needless to say, this tiny piece of copy can have a drastic effect on your conversions. According to Social Times,
But that’s providing that you use words that will resonate with your audience.
7. Include Facebook’s Call to Action
The first element you could test is including the Facebook’s call to action in your ads.
This option allows you to add one of the following C2As to your ads:
- Shop Now,
- Learn More,
- Sign Up,
- Book Now,
Test how your ads would perform with and without the Call to Action button.
Digital marketer for instance discovered that after adding a C2A, ads started performing significantly better.
(Image courtesy of Digital Marketer)
AdWeek however reports seeing different results, with ads that didn’t include a Call to Action button performing better. You can read their research here.
So test the new button to see how it might work for you.
8. Adding Call to Action to Body Copy
You actually don’t have to include a C2A button to have a call to action in your ads. Many advertisers simply include one at the end of their ad copy.
And needless to say, there’s a big scope of opportunity to test different C2A copy.
Unbounce for instance achieved a 90% increase in CTR by changing one word in their C2A – a possessive determiner “You” to “My”.
- Original: Start your free 30 day trial
- Winner: Start my free 30 day trial
Visual Website Optimizer offers some great advice on writing different call to action test variations here.
Naturally the above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are potentially hundreds if not more other elements and ideas you could test. But if you’re looking for a good place to start try running any of the tests above to see how they improve your ads.