Facebook Ad headlines may not be the most prominent part of your campaign, but they should be used to strengthen it to increase conversions.
We prioritize headlines for blog posts, YouTube videos, webinars, and even emails (if you count subject lines, which I do). And in spite of this, for some reason, headlines on Facebook Ads are often ignored or underutilized.
Even though your Facebook Ad headlines aren’t given the same visual priority as other types of headlines, they are just as important, and they can make a big impact on the overall success of your ad campaigns.
In this post, we’re going to take a close look at how to write powerful headlines, giving you best practices and a few different formulas that you can test for your Facebook Ad campaigns.
When you’re writing a blog post or creating a video, you know that the headline is important.
We’ve got tools out there like CoSchedule’s headline analyzer that are designed to help you mathematically and creatively structure strong, high-performing headlines that will get clicks.
We understand that these headlines are necessary to capture user attention and interest and that without them we’ll never be able to move our campaigns forward. Nonetheless, Facebook Ad Headlines don’t seem to receive the attention they should.
Let’s try to fix this once and for all! 😉
What Exactly Is a Facebook Ad Headline?
We’re going to level with you: Your Facebook Ad headline is not the most important text in your ad copy. The primary ad text, which shows up above the image or video and is the first thing that users see is the most important. (You can learn more about how to write killer Facebook Ad copy here).
Headlines, however, do still matter, and they can significantly increase your conversion rates. Your Facebook Ad headlines appear below the ad’s visual, and it’s typically brief. (You get 40 characters before the headline may be cut off).
You can see what this looks like in this ad, here. The headline is “Dentist Quality Night Guards,” which appears in large, bold next near the CTA.
It’s easy to understand why so many brands completely devalue the headline altogether. It’s not front and center stage, so does it actually matter?
The headline, however, gives you another chance to reinforce your overall message. You can highlight a great sale (15% off), mention a USP (“Premium Cottonwear Ethically Made”), promote branding with something clever, or just state exactly what the product is. We’ll look more at how to do this in a few sections along with a few examples. You want to use this headline to strengthen the ad overall, and to help clarify what it is that you’re offering.
One thing we want to flag for you: Carousel Ads will have multiple slides, which will each have their own individual headlines. We’ll look at how to tackle these later on, too.
The Key Mistakes Advertisers Make with Facebook Ad Headlines
Before we look at what you want to do with your Facebook Ad headlines, I want to take a quick look at what we don’t want to do.
The first mistake a lot of brands make is leaving a headline out altogether. You’ll notice under the creation screen that it says “Headline (Optional).” That’s definitely technically true, but it doesn’t mean that you want to just get lazy here. Any chance to add more context or to enhance your ad (giving it a little “oomph”) is one that you want to take. The ad below completely lacked a headline.
You also don’t want to simply use your brand name for the headline either. People are already seeing that when they read the primary ad text, and it does nothing to contribute to the ad itself. You can include your brand name, but that shouldn’t be it. Purple actually runs great ads in general (and we’ve got some with fantastic ad headlines below), but for some reason this ad didn’t have anything other than the brand name in the headline.
Last but not least, you’re going to want to make sure that the headline you’re choosing aligns extremely carefully with the individual ad text. This can be hard to explain, so let’s look at an exmaple.
In this ad, byte is advertising their teeth straightening product. They list a few key features– straighter teeth, featured in forbes, no office visits, guaranteed for life. They show the product in the picture. This is all great, and their headline of “come take confidence for a test drive” wouldn’t necessarily be horrible except that it doesn’t align with the ad. The ad didn’t talk about improving your confidence with a gorgeous smile (which I think is where they were going with it, since I’ve written similar ads for a dental client). The headline also hints at a trial with “test drive,” but nothing is mentioned about a trial period, so that may be a misunderstanding.
This headline could have worked well if the ad did two things:
- Talked about the confidence that comes with a great smile as an emotional appeal in addition to the rest of the ad copy.
- Mentioned a free trial period or consultation.
Without these two elements, the headline is clearly meant to be clever, but it doesn’t improve the ad and may actually cause confusion. For this reason, you’re going to want to check to ensure that each individual headline lines up with each individual ad in that set that you’re testing.
5 Types of Powerful Facebook Ad Headlines You Can Use
We’ve looked at what you don’t want to do with your Facebook Ad headlines, so now let’s discuss what you can do.
The sky is really the limit when it comes to how you want to use your Facebook Ad headline to benefit your ad campaign, but there are five high-performing key uses that you’ll see over and over again in different variations. We recommend testing out each one to see how they work for you, so let’s take a look at each.
1. Reinforce Your Branding Message
There’s something kind of magical about copywriting, sales, and branding when it’s done right.
A company might be selling a set of champagne flutes, but they’re not just a set of glasses; they’ll be the crystal that sparkles in the glint of the Christmas lights, that you use to toast an engagement or a major milestone, that can be passed down from generation to generation. They’re just a set of glasses… but they’re not.
Using your headline to reinforce this visual and emotional image of what your product or service can do is a great choice. This can be subtle, but it should always tie in to the emotional appeal that your ad is already working towards.
Here’s an example. Vuori sells athletic wear, and it’s all about “feel good in these pants,” paired with a review that talks about how comfortable and form-fitting they are. Paired with an image of a woman wearing the pants on a gorgeous hike, it’s easy to emotionally connect to these possibilities and see yourself wearing them.
This ad from Porch + Hall is advertising doormats for your front door, but they make it all about the importance of a first impression. This copy actually makes you feel like your front doormat is a vital part of your landscaping, and their headline “Reimagine your front door” capitalizes on that.
2. Emphasize Sales & Deals
Plenty of ad campaigns take advantage of sales, discounts, BOGOs, or offers like free shipping to entice users to purchase. One of the best use cases of a Facebook Ad headline, therefore, is to really emphasize these incredible offers that you’re promoting. This can allow you to focus the majority of your copy on benefits, USP, and overcoming objections, and seeing “15% off” in big, bold letters next to the CTA button never hurts.
You can list all current promos in your ad headline if you want. Stark’s Vacuums chose do to this in their recent ad. Keep in mind, though, that you want to start with the most powerful sale, because if you’ve got more than 40 characters, the headline will be cut off in some placements.
Peet’s Coffee has a great example of how to do this well. They offer a high discount at 30%, and they mention that it has to be a subscription order. This lets users know exactly what they’re signing up for before they click the ad, which decreases the likelihood of users who click but then don’t convert because they wanted a one-time purchase and not a subscription. They also use a coupon code, which can make the offer feel like it won’t last quite as long and encourage users to act quickly.
You’ll notice that this brand talks about this offer both in the primary ad text and in the headline. That’s great; it’s a main selling point for this ad, so featuring it in the ad text can increase conversions and having it in the headline draws attention.
3. Highlight Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is going to be what sets you apart from your competition. Is your product high-end and boutique? Affordable? Scalable? Meant for small businesses?
Your USP is a powerful selling force because it helps you to differentiate yourself and explain why you’re so valuable to your target audience. Using your ad headline to really drive home and highlight your USP, therefore, is a great choice.
One of Joss & Main’s primary USPs is that they offer gorgeous patio furniture that won’t break the bank. This is a main selling point in their primary ad text, but they reinforce it with their ad headline: “Outdoor Furniture Made Affordable.” It’s simple, but it’s appealing; patio furniture is often darn expensive, preventing some people from being able to purchase.
In this next ad, Purple uses their financing options as a USP instead of focusing exclusively on the product. This is a great choice, and is likely used as a retargeting campaign for users who are already familiar with their brand. They stress “Feel & Finance Better” in their headline, encouraging users to learn more about how to affordable finance a bed that will get them better sleep. Some companies have financing, but many don’t promote it as heavily.
And lastly, we’ve got this ad from Clean Republic. Their headline is simple: Love pets, destroy viruses, with the additional use of emojis to drive the point home. This quickly delivers their USP in a fun way: Their cleaner can help you keep the coronavirus at bay in your home, and it keeps your pets safe, too. Plenty of pet owners (including me!) worry about which cleaners are pet-safe, so this addresses the question right outside the box.
4. Use It As a CTA
If you look at how an ad is formatted, you’ll notice that the ad headline is placed immediately next to the CTA button.
A natural use case of the ad headline, therefore, would be to use it as a lead-in for the CTA button, creating one larger, seamless-but-more-powerful CTA.
This isn’t a strategy that’s used often, but it can work well.
Here’s an example of what that looks like. Purple’s campaign below uses the headline “Try 100 Nights Risk-Free,” which leads exceptionally well into their CTA button “Learn More.” The “Learn More” CTA often aligns well with offers for trials, as “shop now” can make people uneasy about spending money upfront.
5. Explain Your Product More
Some brands use their ad headline to succinctly summarize exactly what their product does. While this is often best to do in the primary ad text, sometimes it works to use something short and clever in the primary text to sell the USP and drive the main point home in the headline.
Shine Bathroom uses this exact strategy for one of their ad campaigns. “Alexa, tell Shine to clean the toilet, please” pretty much gets the point across in the primary ad text, but they elaborate more in their headline: “this smart device cleans your toilet automatically.” They’ve now explained how it works and what it does efficiently and quickly.
Facebook Ad Headlines Ideas To Rock Carousel Ads
Alright, so far we’ve looked at a few standard options that you can use for your standard single-image or single-video ad.
Things are a little different on carousel ads, as we mentioned above. Instead of having one single headline for the whole ad, each individual slide gets their own headline.
First, the big no-no here: Do not use the exact same headline for each individual slide. It costs you a chance to talk more about your products or USP, and it comes across as a little lazy or even like spam. It lowers the user’s perception, which is a shame.
That being said, here are a couple of great ideas that you can use:
Talk about the benefits or unique qualities of different products.
KIM + ONO does this, showcasing different products with different taglines like “your timeless work of art” and “modern takes on old traditions.” This reinforces the USP. I’ve also seen brands list price points in the headlines, or list product names.
Feature short-but-enthusiastic product reviews for each individual product shown.
Rothy’s does this here, showing excerpts of real reviews like “YES, they’re worth it.” Reviews are powerful selling points, but they also wisely chose reviews that overcame objections, too, mentioning comfort and that they’re well worth the price.
Your Facebook Ad headline is a key component of your ad creative, so it’s not one that you want to neglect even if it isn’t as prominent as the primary ad text and the image(s) or video.
As we discussed here, you can use these headlines in a number of different ways to strengthen your ad and reinforce the appeal that you’re going for, increasing conversions overall.
Remember to always split test headlines alongside your copy, and see what works best for your audience at each stage of the sales funnel.
This will help you optimize your campaigns moving forward.
What do you think? Which headline formulas have you used? What types of Facebook Ad headlines are you most likely to respond to as a user? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
I’ve failed at most of the Facebook ads I’ve ever tried running except one or two I think.
I never thought there’s need to get all pretty with headlines. Thanks for sharing these.
Karola Karlson says
Yes, headlines do matter. Research has shown that 70% of the people never read further than the headline, so you really need to nail your offer in the headline. 🚀
Thanks for your feedback, always appreciated!
Wong Chong Hao says
Are headlines more important or the text description?
Karola Karlson says
Your ad’s headline is visible in all placements and the most important part of your ad.
The link description is the place where you mainly add some specifications.
Hope this helps!
Christine Mark says
Great read. Very well-organized, well-presented, well-articulated. Thank you!
The one bit that I’m having trouble resolving is in one place the article says:
Outbrain also found that 16-18 word headlines perform better than headlines of any other word length.
Elsewhere you talk about being short and about FB’s recommendation of:
Facebook recommends that high-engagement ad headlines fall between as short as 25-40 characters in length.
Any insight to resolve these 2 ideas would be great.
Karola Karlson says
Outbrain’s study examined the headlines of blog articles and other online content. This could be due to those lengthy headlines including a surprising message.
For Facebook, it’s best to keep your headlines shorter that 16 words for sure. I would say keep it between 6-10 words.
Hope this helps!
Thank you so much for writing this.
Jacob Jack says
I have been looking for such a great guide! Amazing! Great job with this!
Santhosh Muralidhar says
It is actually great that you published this detailed blog post which specifically gives us tips to write better Facebook headlines.
I too think that Ad copies which had USP mentioned in the headlines would receive more interaction from the audience.