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7 Facebook Headline Hacks to drive clicks through the roof

Your problem is attention.

It’s competing with friends and family. Breaking through the other three million that already advertise on Facebook. Another two million blog posts or trillions of emails each and every day.

You need that little extra inch. That special thing to set your ads apart in this sea of competition. And that’s where proven headline hacks come into play.

The five odd words strung together in order to stop people in their tracks. Get them to look over. And bait them into clicking.

You can’t afford to get this wrong. Not when the right headline has the power to increase CTR by 10%.

That’s why you should use these 7 Facebook headline hacks to drive those clicks through the roof instead.

Hack #1: The Testimonial

Sometimes you don’t have to be clever or clearI mean, why stress about either when you can just be lazy?

Think about it: Where do people get their information today?

Almost 75% of people look to friends and family for purchasing information. And nearly all of them at 92% trust recommendations from people over brands — even if they don’t personally know them!

For example, back in the day, Basecamp (then still 37Signals) ran a split test between their old, tried-and-true page and a long-form sales one.

The new spammy long sales page initially increased conversions by 37.5%. Not bad, right?!

But then they ran another split test.

Only this time, they went with a testimonial-driven page. Almost the entire page, from headline to image to copy was a straight testimonial from one individual person.

Results shot up 102.5% this time.

Laura Roeder made one simple tweak to her landing page headline, inserting a quote from a testimonial (“Yours is the only newsletter I actually read”) and she instantly saw a 24.31% conversion rate increase.

Years later Betty Rocker, the “fit-foodie”, personal trainer and social media star who created the #makefatcry challenge, is using the same technique.

Hack #2: The Verifiable Value Proposition

Numbers are hard to argue with.

Especially when they’re verifiable. Specific and illustrative of the value you’re about to get.

For example, MarketingExperiments.com ran a test that compared which headline generated more leads. Those three were:

  1. “You Are Master and Commander of a Billion Documents”
  2. “Cost Effective Litigation Management Solutions”
  3. “We Sell Unfair Advantages. Interested?”

We’ve already given the answer away.

The winner was the first; the only one that included a number which built up the perceived value of the offer.

The important part, though, wasn’t that it won. But by how much.

The only headline referencing a number outperformed the others by worst performer by 259%.

Then MarketingExperiments.com ran another similar study that compared six more headlines. This time we are looking at:

  1. (Control)
  2. Dental Plans for $8.33 a month. Acceptance Guaranteed.
  3. Over 55,000 Dental Care Providers. Acceptance Guaranteed.
  4. Dental Care Coverage. Best Price Guaranteed.
  5. Low-Cost Dental Care for the Uninsured.
  6. Best Price Dental Care – Without Insurance.

Once again, the results weren’t even close. The top two performers, unsurprisingly, were numbers two and three. But in this case, the more specific one won.

The one that featured “…$8.33 a month” lifted the conversion rate by 72.76%.

Hack #3: The Shortcut Listicle

Life is hard.

We’re bombarded by information. We’re stressed and overworked. And by the end of the week, all we want to do is to collapse in a heap on the couch and eat a gallon of ice cream. (Just me?)

Our brains are literally done. Checked out. Decision fatigue has firmly set in.

And that’s why we can’t help but click another stupid list post from some trashy website. We know it might be dumb. But we can’t curb ourselves.

Turns out, there’s a little more than meets the eye here. Not only are we dealing with decision fatigue, but numbered lists also offer us a promise; a way out. They present us with a shortcut that’s going to somehow simplify our lives if we just use these tips.

That’s why numbered lists are the most preferred headline format online (getting the majority vote with 36% of people in one test).

And oddly, odd numbered lists seem to outperform even ones by 20%.

Hack #4: Good ol’ How-To’s

Formulas work for a reason. They fit the mental schema of what people expect.

No need to reinvent the wheel when the wheel works just fine, thank you very much.

In the same study of the most preferred headline formats online, the good ol’ How-To came in at numero dos.

How-To’s also help us solve problems. Literally.

We’re confronted with a time-consuming, expensive, or complex problem. And the How-To headline promises to be our salvation; offering us a way out by walking us through a solution step-by-step.

How-tos are one of the oldest headline formats, too. Just check out this example from over two decades ago, courtesy of Swiped.co.

And this well-executed modern example:

Hack #5: Negativity

It’s official. Fear works. At least, when you’re trying to get attention.

We want to avoid external threats that could harm our well-being. We want to fix internal mistakes we might already be making.

That’s why fear-based messaging has been around the block. A few times.

Just check out this quote from an honest-to-goodness Academia research paper:

Over fifty years of empirical research on fear-arousing communications has resulted in a large body of evidence that shows that high fear messages are generally more effective than low fear messages in changing individuals’ attitudes, intentions and behavior.”

If that wasn’t enough, paid distribution platform, Outbrain, analyzed which headline styles seemed to perform best.

And I quote:

Negative headlines received 69% higher averaged click-through rate.”

So let’s not forget the most classic fear of all — the fear of missing out (FOMO) on a deal:

Hack #6: Ask Questions?

Betteridge’s law of headlines says, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”

It’s intended as a half-truth. A joke, really.

Basically, saying that most question-based headlines are unnecessary. You’re intentionally asking a loaded question or leading the reader on.

But for advertising purposes, that’s kinda the point. You want to throw out a pattern interruption. You want to get people to hesitate a little bit when they see your ad. Like this Swiped.co example from 30+ years ago:

Question headlines also work best when combined with something else…

Lisa Sargent gives two rules to using question-based headlines:

  1. You can ask a yes or no question … but you must either answer it immediately or phrase the question so your prospect has to read the promotion to answer it.
  2. Ask a question that implies an answer or benefits are contained in the promotion.

And the way you do both of those is by using a cliffhanger.

Hack #7: The Cliffhanger

Back when Moz still had an “SEO” in front of it, they worked with Conversion Rate Experts to help better position their software landing page. The final result was $1 million+ in new revenue

And the path to the outcome was also instructive.

One of the very first things they wanted to do was inject more credibility into their offer. Specifically, by ‘elevating’ the successful brands Moz had helped in previous years in order to boost the perceived value of their service.

Their initial headline was a lackluster, “Improve your traffic and rankings with an SEOmoz PRO Membership!”.

Meh. Right?

Instead, Conversion Rate Experts flipped it around to: “When eBay, Disney, and Marriott need SEO help, here’s what they do…”

This, my friends, is classic BuzzFeed.

It’s a cliffhanger; pulling back the curtain just enough to get you interested. But stopping just short in order to get you to keep reading.

It piques your interest by creating an open loop. A little gap in your expectations that now have to be filled.

Conclusion

“I don’t call it fake news,” Beqa Latsabidze told The New York Times.

“I call it satire.”

Beba is a 22-year old from Georgia. (The country, not the state). You might call him a budding ‘fake news’ entrepreneur. If that theoretical LinkedIn job title existed.

“I did not invent anything. It has all been done before.” he asserted.

Beba’s right, of course. Yellow journalism isn’t new.  Clickbait isn’t new. We’ve been using the same tricks for decades. Nearly a century even.

The problem is noise. Same as it ever was.

Your antidote (beyond the image) is the headline.

Testimonials, numbered value props, shortcut lists, classic how-tos, negativity, questions, and cliffhangers are anything but new. Yet that’s why they work.

They’ve all been around the block. Battle-tested and honed. That means they may not be very exciting. But they do have one compelling benefit…

They work. Today, tomorrow, and another decade from now.