5 Rules for Writing Successful Facebook Ad Headlines

The struggle for attention

In a world where online advertising is becoming the dominant tactic to target consumers, brands are fighting over the attention of their customers. We are getting served so many ads daily, some estimating 4,000 up to 10,000 ads across all our social media feeds, search engines, in apps, etc., that we are getting numb to seeing them. ‘Banner blindness’, the term I’m sure you’ve all heard of, has affected every single digital marketer as some point in their career. Banner blindness, also called ad blindness or banner noise, is a phenomenon when internet users ignore information that looks like a potential ad, whether it is done consciously or unconsciously. Users who do not click on ads is an especially troublesome issue when you are a performance marketer. The question is, how do you overcome this challenge and what are the tactics for grabbing internet users’ attention?

tested advertising methods book cover

A lot of my clients ask me for tips on how to make their ads stand out from the competition. Everyone is looking for one simple solution, but really, if it was just the matter of changing a word, would marketers really need to exist? I always say that to write a powerful ad headline, you need to understand the foundation of consumer behaviour. That is why my first recommendation is to start off by buying the world-renowned book called “Tested Advertising Methods” by John Caples. This book is often referred to as the ‘bible’ of proven advertising techniques, so if you’re a serious student of advertising and/or copywriting, then this is a required reading and belongs on your bookshelf.

In this blog post, I’m going to give you a quick summary of some of the main techniques for writing powerful Facebook ad headlines, based on the teachings from John Caples’ book.

“I have seen one advertisement sell 19.5 times as much goods as another.” – John Caples.

“I have seen one advertisement sell 19.5 times as much goods as another.” – John Caples. This is a statement that all online marketers can relate to. A good versus bad ad can be the difference between 100% ROAS versus being in the red on a campaign, when advertising the same product.

If the headline doesn’t stop people from scrolling further, the rest of the ad might as well be written in a foreign language! According to Copyblogger, 80% of readers never make it past the headline. If the headline is not catchy, the copy will not be read. And copy that is not read, does not sell products or services.

According to Copyblogger, 80% of readers never make it past the headline.

In most ads, no matter how striking the creative is, the headlines are critically important. Most users read little else when deciding whether they are interested. The success of an entire ad campaign may stand or fall on what is said in the headline of an individual ad. Today most experienced marketers realize how much the conversion of an ad depends on the headline.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lowering the value of an image/video, it does have a powerful effect on the performance of an ad. Sometimes a great creative will make an ad good even if the headline is only ordinary. A good headline, however, can make an ad profitable even if the creative is poor. As you know, in digital marketing, there is never one solution, and the real advertising magic happens when you combine both a great headline and an appealing image/video.

John Caples’ five rules for writing headlines

1. Evoke desire

“First and foremost, try to get self-interest into every headline you write." Make your headline suggest to the readers that there is something they want.” Put simply, your headline should say what people will get out of clicking on the ad. The best headlines are the ones that aim at a specific audience and offer that target market something its readers want badly.

Inkbox ad headline is a great example of telling people that they can get what they’ve been looking for right now.

Inkbox ad example

2. The 4 Us

*“If you have news, such as a new product, or a new use for an old product, be sure to get that news into your headline in a big way.” *You should always ask yourself the following questions:

  • 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?

In the example below, Hootsuite is relying on the sense of urgency and time sensitivity to advertise their new offer and push customers for a direct response.

Hootsuite ad example

3. Push for action

“Avoid headlines that merely provoke curiosity. Curiosity combined with news or self-interest is an excellent aid to the pulling power of your headline, but curiosity by itself is seldom enough.” Simply put if you manage to ask the right question in your ad headline, and combine curiosity with self-interest, clicks will follow.

Use actionable language, namely verbs, put the focus on your audience using a second person, and be specific to what you want your customers to do. See how NatureBox did it. They are being personal, showing that they know what consumers want and offering a solution.

NatureBox ad example

4. Be positive

“Avoid, when possible, headlines that paint the gloomy or negative side of the picture. Take the cheerful, positive angle.” 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. See how Pipedrive used this tactic in their ad headline.

Pipedrive ad example

5. Prove it

“Try to suggest in your headline that there is a quick and easy way for the readers to get something they want. Always remember to make sure it’s believable.” There’s plenty of copywriting research that all point to one conclusion: headlines that start with numbers are clear winners every time. You can use numbers in different ways, in a list headline, as a percentage, etc. Here, you can see Sleeknote showing us concrete results that you will be getting from using their service.

Sleeknote ad example

Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice

The marketing professional who writes a dozen headlines has a better chance of writing a good one than the marketer who only writes one headline. If you have time to write as many as 20 headlines, you increase your chances of writing a successful one. Try to take the point of view of the bored customer overwhelmed with advertisement and the choices and decide which headline would most likely get you to stop, if you were scrolling through your social media feed, for example.

Don't have time to experiment with your headlines? Check out our proven formula for developing compelling angles for your campaigns that can help you drive your sales.

In today’s online advertising world, the AI for most traffic sources has become highly powerful. Launching an ad campaign on Facebook is now a very simple process and with new tools such as CBO (Campaign Budget Optimization), one of the best ways to separate yourself from the competition is by writing captivating and compelling headlines. Remember, Content Is King and if you’re able to master it, then you’re setting yourself and your business up for continued success.

If you’re interested in having Fred help you develop a formula to build ads, sign up to our network and we will be in touch shortly.

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