In 2013, Upworthy had 87 million website visitors a month.
When NewsWhip analyzed the amount of shares, likes, comments, tweets, pins, etc. for the top 50 media websites, they came to a clear conclusion: Upworthy has by far the highest post engagement of all publishers. Their average post had over 18 000 social shares.
So what makes Upworthy’s headlines so clickable and shareable?
And how can you write the Facebook headlines that get thousands of clicks?
Upworthy’s team famously writes at least 25 different headlines for each post and tests them rigorously.
We’re not implying that you should write 20 headlines. However, A/B testing five different approaches can give a significant boost to your Facebook ads click-through rate.
Up next, you’ll read about eight powerful headline formulas that work 90% of the time.
But first, there are two things you need to know:
- Not all these headline formulas work 100% of the time. Still, evidence shows that they’re the most effective ones you can use.
- There are headlines that work best for specific audiences. And nobody knows your audience better than you.
1. Use numbers
There’s plenty of copywriting research that all point to one conclusion: headlines that start with numbers are clear winners every time.
By starting your headline with a number, you’re 36% more likely to have people click on your ads.
You can use numbers in a list headline, as a percentage, etc.
Headlines with odd numbers get 20% more clicks
Outbrain collected data from 150,000 article headlines and discovered that headlines with odd numbers have a 20% higher clickthrough rate than headlines with even numbers.
The next time you’re writing a headline, make it seven tips instead of eight.
Tip: Use numbers as a social proof to increase people’s trust. For example, this Facebook ad by SumoMe reads “over 150 000 websites grow their traffic with SumoMe”.
While this particular message is used in the link description, why not include social proof in your ad headline.
2. Create a sense of urgency
Sometimes, people need a little nudge to click on your ad.
Creating a sense of urgency makes your audience like the might miss out on a great offer.
Variation A included a discount offer and plain text while variation B showed a timer counting the time left until the end of the deal.
After running the A/B test, the website’s conversion rate saw a huge 332% increase.
Example: Groupon’s Facebook ad promotes a 4-hour flash sale and lists the time when the deal ends. There’s no room for second-guessing the deal, as it will soon be gone (unless you click on the ad and take action).
3. Be clear and precise
Writing vague headlines is a common mistake many beginning social media marketers make.
While you want to sound sophisticated and fun, people might not understand what your offer stands for.
And without attracting enough interest, you’ll lose out on hundreds of potential ad clicks.
Unbounce ran an A/B test about landing page headlines. They tested three headline variations:
Variation 1: Passionate About Betting? We are Too (asks a vague question)
Variation 2: Make More Money on Your Bets – Get Free Betting Tips (emphasizes the benefit)
Variation 3: Stop Losing Money on Your Bets – Get Free Betting Tips (uses a negative approach)
As you can see, using a clear headline that said exactly what you’d get resulted in a 41.14% higher conversion rate.
Here’s another study that indicates that the clearer your headline message, the higher your ad’s CTR.
Shopify’s ad uses a simple and clear headline “Build Your Store on FB!” No room for misinterpretation and confusion here.
4. Keep your headlines short
According to Copyblogger, 80% of readers never make it past the headline.
According to some sources, eight out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only two out of 10 will read the rest.
Having an irresistible headline matters a lot if you intend is to get people click on your ads.
A study by Outbrain found that headlines with 60-100 characters earn the highest click-through rates and the rates decline as headlines decrease below 60 characters or increase beyond 100 characters.
Outbrain also found that 16-18 word headlines perform better than headlines of any other word length.
Frontier Airlines uses the strategy of repeating the same message multiple times to get it over to the readers. “Save on fall travel” and “Fall Travel – 2 Day Sale!” are both clear and short enough to cut through the clutter and make people click on the ad.
Facebook recommends that high-engagement ad headlines fall between as short as 25-40 characters in length.
When writing a Facebook ad headline, focus on creating something that is easily understood and value-oriented.
5. Emphasize the benefits
While it’s important to be clear in your Facebook ad headlines, it is just as crucial to include an obvious benefit.
Put simply; your headline should say what people will get out of clicking on the ad.
Evernote’s website copy presents a clear benefit that’s relevant to every visitor: “Remember Everything.” It’s simple and promising.
Try The World’s Facebook ad has a more vague value proposition, but just the right amount of interesting to get people to read the entire ad.
According to an article by Unbounce, you should always ask yourself these four questions when writing a headline:
- Is this useful – do people see the value in it?
- Is this unique – does it promise a unique benefit? Is it differentiated)
- Is this urgent – does it lead the audience to act now?
- Is this ultra-specific – does it include using facts, figures, and statistics?
Read more: If You’re Unsure, Follow the Best – 15 Inspiring Facebook Ad Campaigns From Beloved Brands
6. Include a call-to-action
According to the data by Wingify, makers of Visual Website Optimizer, almost 30% of all A/B tests their customers are running are Call To Action button tests.
That’s because call-to-actions work. Using an actionable ad headline help to increase your click-through rates.
The New York Times’s headline “Activate Your 60%-off Savings” leaves to doubt about what you’ll get as you click.
Moreover, this ad uses numbers and creates a sense of urgency by saying “The sale has been extended until Friday.” Now you wouldn’t want to miss a 60% saving, would you?
When choosing your call-to-action text, always ask these two questions:
- What is my audience’s motivation for clicking the call-to-action?
- What is my audience going to get when they click through the CTA?
To give you some inspiration, here’s a list of popular call-to-actions by SiteTechSupport that you can use in your Facebook ads headlines:
7. Ask a question
Questions make people curious. Curiosity makes people click.
Psychologists have discovered that when information gaps exist without closure, it causes a sense of distress and suspense – and people will pursue information as a way to eliminate those feelings of unrest.
Put plainly: If you manage to ask the right question in your ad headline, clicks will follow.
HubSpot’s Facebook ad asks a simple question: “How well do you rank for SEO?” It works because people will want to know the answer and don’t feel obligated to sign up in the first place.
In their famous campaign, Snickers asked a fun question about “Who are you when you’re hungry?” This fun and authentic campaign brought them millions of likes, clicks, and a huge increase in sales.
8. Use powerful words
When writing your Facebook ad headlines, every single word matters.
There’s evidence that using one superlative is the best option when it comes to writing a clickbait headline.
But as you can see, using too many superlatives can actually damage your ad’s click-through rate rather than improving it.
In a study, Outbrain found that using negative words outperforms the use of positive superlatives by 59%.
While this might not work with all headlines, this is definitely something worth a try.
In 1963, advertising guru David Ogilvy published a list of power words that arise people’s attention and make them act upon your offer.
These words were:
If you’d like to learn more power words and boost your ad CTR, see this list of 189 power words by Kevan Lee from Buffer.
Use exclamation marks !!!
Research by Outbrain showed that article titles ending with a question mark had higher click-through rates than those ending with an exclamation mark or full stop.
But there’s more to this story. They also discovered that headlines using three exclamation marks (!!!) instead of just one received almost twice as many clicks as those with other punctuation marks.
Uber’s well aware of the power of human psychology. Instead of using a plain “Sign Up Today” call-to-action, they spice it up with a simple yet effective exclamation mark.
Your Facebook ad headline matters. A lot. 80% of readers never even make it past the headline.
By using these powerful copywriting methods, you’ll be able to create, test, and find headlines that double your click-through rates.
Instead of thinking “I’ll do it the next week,” do it now: Follow these eight guidelines and write down ten various headlines that will skyrocket your sales results.
- Use numbers at the beginning of your headline
- Create a sense of urgency with limited-time offers
- Be clear about your offer (avoid being too vague)
- Keep your headlines short (between 25-50 characters)
- Emphasize the benefits
- Include a call-to-action in your headline
- Ask questions that people want to know the answer to
- Use powerful words (and exclamation marks)