Writing an effective headline is a skill every marketer needs. Here is a guide to improve your headline writing skills.
Facebook Ads And Headlines
Usually, when a marketer writes advertisements, they know that the headline is 80% of the ad–meaning that your headline determines if people will keep reading the ad 80% of the time.
But Facebook ads are a little different. People aren’t on Facebook to be sold to and they aren’t expecting it. That makes the image or video you use for your Facebook ads to be crucial–at least as important as the headline. I recently wrote a post about the different types of Facebook ads available and guidelines about the images. You can see that post here if you need help with the visuals of your ad.
Assuming that you have your visuals in line, it’s time to attack the headline. And there are some simple ways to write a “stop-them-in-their-tracks” kind of headline.
First, consider the emotion that you want your ad to stir up in the customer. In marketing, seven emotions are commonly used to motivate buyers. Those emotions are:
The trick to using these emotions successfully is to stop thinking of them as “sins” or “weaknesses” and realize that they are a reality of being human. We all have reasons that we do things, and often these reasons are the seven emotions that I listed. There are also other emotions, like benevolence, but unless you’re running a non-profit or charity, those positive emotions are much harder to use to motivate buyers.
Here’s an example of using vanity to sell an anti-wrinkle cream:
“I Get Mistaken Every Day For A 30-Year-Old.”
Put that headline next to an image of a glowing face using the cream, and you’ll stir up people’s desire to look their best and rewind the clock. That’s vanity.
Or you could use laziness with an ad like this:
“No More Scrubbing! Drop this tablet into your toilet, and it’s clean in 4 minutes.”
No one wants to clean toilets. And if people could do it more easily or faster, that’s appealing. You can call it laziness, but I think it’s just smart. In fact, if you know where I could get this toilet-cleaning tablet, let me know.
Once you have decided on the best emotion to use for your product, it’s time to write the headline. There are a few things to keep in mind when you start writing.
The headline won’t be perfect the first time you write one, so don’t let perfectionism stop you. I just typed out the first headlines that popped into my head for the vanity and laziness examples used above. They could be improved, and if I were creating a headline for a real product, I would first write down several “first thought” kind of headlines, pick the best one, and then work on optimizing it. Nothing is worse for writer’s block than trying to get every word right the first time.
Once you have a working headline, cut any unnecessary words. If there is a shorter way to say something, do it. The shorter the headline, typically the better it works.
Never mislead prospects with your headline. And don’t trick them. Yes, there are lots of techniques that you should use to make your headline the best that it can be, but it should always be honest. If not, any success it has will be very shortlived.
Don’t Bore The Reader
Don’t interrupt a user’s Facebook feed to say something boring or conventional. Tell them immediately why your product is amazing–right in the headline.
Exclamation points and all capital letters are the equivalents of shouting at customers. How would you respond if salespeople shouted at you as you walked through the mall? It’s the same idea when users are browsing through Facebook. They don’t want to be yelled at, so keep any capitals and exclamation points to a reasonable amount.
Ready, Aim, Fire
Target your audience. As you define your audience by finding the ads that work and creating Look Alike Audiences, you’ll get an improved idea of who is buying your product. When you narrow your audience, narrow your headline too. Make it targeted for your buyers.
Specificity makes you more believable. Use numbers. Tell prospects exactly how long something takes, what percentage saw improvement, how much the discount is, etc.
Make your headline stand out with bold typeface and larger font.
Ask A Question
Questions make good headlines because they use human nature to grab attention. People like to share their opinions, advice, and knowledge. A question headline is a sure way to engage your audience.
Curiosity is a marketer’s best friend. If you can build mystery or intrigue around your product, do it–but never at the expense of providing proof, specifics, or benefits. Use curiosity to draw the prospect in, but once the prospect is interested, you need to answer all of their potential questions and objections.
“See Why Celebrity John Doe Say’s He’ll Never Try Another Diet Again…” is a curiosity headline, but then you need to reveal the answer in the ad copy. And back it up with specific facts and proof.
Remember The 3 “U’s”
Include one of these in every headline (bonus points for combining more than one!):
Use your headline to demonstrate how your product or promotion is useful. “Easiest Way To Peel A Grapefruit” or “Just In Time For Valentine’s Day, Entire Site is 30% Off.”
Describe what makes your product unique. “No Ammonia Hair Dye Leaves Hair Healthy.” Think of why your product is different than others on the market and highlight that difference. What makes your product unique can be a difference in warranties, craftsmanship, quality, price, selection, and more.
Make it urgent. Create a time-based promotion or limit the number available. That scarcity will play into customer’s fear of missing out and help them to take action now–not later.
Remember The Purpose
There is only one purpose behind a headline: to grab attention. Anything that catches attention could work and anything that doesn’t should be left out.
The Rule Of Exceptions
If there is one thing that is true in marketing, it is that for every “rule” or “Do” in marketing, there is a proven, successful exception to that rule. So don’t be afraid to try something new or break a “rule.”
But I also believe that you need to know what you are doing before you can purposefully and successfully ignore the conventions that have been proven to work over and over. So start with the tips in this post. Make your headlines as strong as they can be. Test them and then write new ones to test against your winners. When you know what’s working, you can experiment with thinking outside the box.