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5 Data-Backed Tips for Writing Great Facebook Ad Headlines

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The number of businesses that use Facebook for ads and Business Pages is truly astounding. A whopping 93% of marketers that use social media for advertising run Facebook ads, making it by far the most popular platform for paid social.

platform-popularity-facebook-ad-headlines

With all that competition, it’s imperative that business owners and their marketing departments maximize their use of Facebook. One of the most effective techniques aimed at making this happen is to learn how to master the science of writing outstanding ad headlines.

Did you know that most people only really read headlines? It’s true! Whether we’re talking about an ad, a landing page, or a news article, many of us only read headlines. While these stats may be demoralizing to some marketers, it means that you have to make your ad headlines on Facebook count.

When your brand is competing with such a great number of others on Facebook, you have to distinguish yourself and fast. The headline is where you have the best chance of doing so.

Today we’re sharing a collection of five tried and tested tips for writing effective Facebook ad headlines to help you increase conversions and engagement.

1. Aim for the Perfect 5-Word Ad Headline

When it comes to your Facebook ad headlines, the research consistently shows that concision is the way to more engagement as measured by all-important factors like:

  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Likes

You don’t have unlimited space for your headline—depending on the ad type, you only have between 25 and 45 characters to play with. So you need to figure out how to make the most of your message in a small amount of space.

According to a study by AdEspresso, five words has been the perfect number for a Facebook ad headline for four years running.

ad-word-count-facebook-ad-headlines

A five-word headline is often catchy and definitely gets right to the point. See this example from Facebook itself, which AdEspresso says is “the perfect sponsored post”:

no-clickbait-facebook-ad-headlines

Putting it into action

Take a look at your existing ad headlines (especially the under-performing ones) and see if you can test a version of each headline that’s just five words. For example, “Get a Great Doctor to You” (a real Facebook ad headline from the startup Heal) could become “Find Your Perfect Doctor Now.”

2. Start Your Facebook Ad Headlines with Numbers

Instead of using catchy headlines for the sake of sounding cute, go where the evidence leads you. In this case, the research confirms quite powerfully that starting your headlines with numbers gives the best results.

Conductor, an SEO technology company, looked at which types of headlines resonated the most with their study subjects. They had their participants look at headline types that included:

  • Questions
  • How-tos
  • Standard (no particular angle)
  • Addressing the reader with “you”
  • Numbers-based

The results showed that headlines that started with numbers resonated most with people, to the tune of 36% of all participants. Compare this to the second-place finisher (reader-addressing), which only found favor with 21% of people.

That begs the question, what number should you start your ad headlines with? Are all numbers created equally? No, they’re not, as it turns out.

word-count-engagement-facebook-ad-headlines

Via Buzzsumo

Another piece of research, this one from infographic-maker Venngage, shows that a perfect 10 is the best number to use in headlines. Their study looked at 121,333 articles to determine how many social shares those articles with different-numbered headlines received. Articles with 10 in the headline received 1046 shares while those with five came in second at 972.

The study gets more interesting when it breaks down these results across social networks, including Facebook. Even there, this favoritism for 10 holds true: Headlines with the number 10 in them got 622 shares on Facebook, again followed by the number five at 396 shares.

Putting it into action

While this study looked at Facebook social sharing in blog titles, we can apply this to ad headlines, too, to get some direction about what types of ad headlines will perform the best. Try using numbers in the headlines for your Facebook lead ads, e.g. “10 Ways to Improve Client Retention,” or in your carousel ads, e.g. “5 Dresses that Go from Summer to Fall.”

3. Use Emotional Words in Your Facebook Ad Headlines

Try as we may, most of us still can’t get a grip on our emotions. This also applies to readers of your headlines. While some of us may think we’re rational human beings, the truth is that we’re really emotional—which you can use to your advantage in headline crafting.

Writing in OkDork, CoSchedule’s Founder Garrett Moon conducted an experiment where he analyzed some of the most highly shared headlines at CoSchedule by using something called the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer or simply the EMVHA for short.

In his experiment, he compared the emotional values of headlines for three data sets:

  • Articles with more than 1000 shares
  • Articles with 500 shares
  • Articles with 100 shares

The results were telling because they made an indelible link between the emotional value of a headline and the number of shares its article received.

facebook-ad-headlines-crying-woman

The articles with more than 1000 shares had an average emotional-value score of almost 40. This was much greater than those articles with 500 shares (an emotional-value score of almost 30) and those with 100 shares (a score of close to 20).

This shows that using emotional words in your headlines increases the engagement level, so if you want more conversions and sales, it’s a good idea to use such words in your ad headlines.

That begs the question, what sorts of emotional words?

Putting it into action

The web gives us all sorts of resources on emotional words to use in your ad copy, such as:

Play around with some of these emotionally charged words in your ad headlines, and keep track of which ones perform the best.

4. Go Negative…to Get Positive Results

This one’s a little surprising: Research indicates that using negative words in your headlines produces better results than using positive words! This flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but is likely due to audiences getting sick and tired of the oversaturation of positive-sounding words and feeling distrust about their authenticity.

Outbrain conducted a study where they determined that the presence of negative words like “worst” and “never” in their headlines received a better response from their audience. Outbrain believed that negative-sounding headlines connect with an audience’s desire to really cut to the chase in an intellectually honest fashion much more efficiently than positive-sounding words that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

use-negativity-facebook-ad-headlines

When you consider the sheer enormity of content on the web—and how, as a result, most of us only read the headlines in an attempt to save time—this logic makes sense. After all, when you’re faced with so much content, you want to get right down to what’s important.

Putting it into action

So, tying this back to your ad headlines on Facebook, try to move away from the cheerful headlines once in a while. Experiment with negative-sounding words to capitalize on people’s desire to get at the ugly truth. And as always, test instead of assuming you know what will work your audience.

For example, when WordStream advertisers their free Google Ads Grader, they sometimes try out ad headlines with negative phrases like “Stop Wasting Money” and “Fix Your Mistakes in AdWords.” Not exactly feel-good phrases, but they totally work.

5. Try out Super-Engaging 3-Word Phrases

On a platform where people’s attention spans are generally short, it’s a wise decision to also use shorter phrases in your headlines. Specific, familiar three-word phrases can work exceptionally well on Facebook. According to the same Buzzsumo study mentioned above, the three best-performing phrases, based on engagement, are:

  • Will make you (almost 9000 engagements)
  • This is why (4099 engagements)
  • Can we guess (3199 engagements)

Looking at the data further, we see that “Will make you” is far and away the clear winner, racking up enormous engagement that’s more than double the second-best phrase, “This is why.”

best-phrases-facebook-ad-headlines

The reason that audiences connect with a phrase like “Will make you” so strongly is twofold. First, it implies that the content will have a direct effect on the reader…perhaps even an emotional one. Second, it is a linking phrase that can be seamlessly inserted in many, different types of headlines.

Putting it into action

Now, this study focused on article headlines, but you can absolutely try this tactic in your ad headlines too, and it might even make your Facebook ads seem more native. For example, if you’re writing a lead gen ad for a marketing guide, you could try a headline like “This Free Guide Will Make You a Better Marketer.”

Facebook Ad Headlines: Part Science, Part Art

To get more engagement from your Facebook ads—and, therefore, more clicks, leads and sales—you have to look at writing headlines as a science instead of just an art form. When you analyze and implement what’s been shown to work on Facebook, you greatly increase your chances of getting higher conversions for your brand.

Although you can never predict with certainty what your audience is going to do, you can dramatically raise your chances of connecting with them by testing what you put in front of them on Facebook.

With all this data out there, you have a treasure trove of data to empower you to write more effective ad headlines than ever!

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