3 Ways to Write Clickable Ad Headlines

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Pay per click advertising campaigns have so many moving parts that it’s easy to take for granted what might be the most important factor: ad copy that is relevant and compelling.

However, not all ad copy carries the same weight. Some parts count more than others—specifically, the headline. In fact, approximately 80 percent of people only read the headline of a PPC ad, completely ignoring the body of your ad copy.

Pile this onto other challenges including declining click through rates and the rise of ad blockers, and that means advertisers must work harder to grab readers’ attention and stand out from the pack. Plus, since most text ad formats only allow around 25 characters per ad headline, advertisers need to make every word count.

So here are 3 ways to write eye-catching ad headlines that get either more clicks or, more importantly, the right clicks

1) Get Emotional
As Don Draper once said, “Advertising is based on one thing: happiness.”

It’s no secret that when heart strings are pulled, people are more easily persuaded. An emotion-based headline that’s focused on the user can encourage those instinctual clicks that lead to conversions—and even repeat business. Interestingly, in a test conducted by PPCHero, an emotion-driven headline actually had a click-through rate (CTR) about 50 percent lower than the control headline—but it also saw the same increase in conversion rate. These types of headlines accelerate the “weeding out” process of non-interested users, allowing you to make an impassioned case to users who have been qualified on a deep, emotional level.

Some emotions to keep in mind when writing your ad headline might be: vanity, fear, exclusivity, fulfillment, and comfort. As far back as 1923, Scientific Advertising author Claude C. Hopkins had it right when he proposed several psychological theories for advertising, many of which are just as true today as they were then. Namely, the importance of addressing specific human desires in your ad headline: “They will decide at a glance—by your headline or your pictures. Address the people you seek, and them only.”

2) Ask Questions
One of the best ways to get your audience to stop and consider your offer is by asking a question. When someone reads a question, they tend to mentally answer it themselves, even if it’s inherently rhetorical.

Questions can also help create suspense—particularly if it’s a leading question that can pique the reader’s curiosity. Recent academic research on what factors drive higher CTRs revealed that question headlines like “Need a new iPhone 4?” were more effective than simple, declarative headlines, like “iPhone 4 for sale.” Even more effective, according to the study, were question-based headlines that specifically reference the reader, like “Is this your new iPhone 4?”

3) Match Headlines to Keywords
Since so few consumers read past the headline of ads before moving on, it can be hard to be inclusive of all your target audiences when you’re limited to 25 characters. Fortunately for brands with varying product/service names or geographic locations, we can use Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) to add more relevance into headline copy and increase your CTR.

DKI lets you customize your ad headline to match the user’s intent. For instance, when you write a search ad about selling shoes, you’d use {keyword:Default Term} which would include the keywords you bid on, as well as the default keyword that displays if the keyword is too long for that space. An example headline might be Get Branded {keyword:Promo Items}, which could work with search keywords such as water bottles or pens. Then your headlines will read as either Get Branded Water Bottles or Get Branded Pens.

The Advertise.com Contextual Platform also supports Dynamic Keyword Insertion, except instead of just search engines, you’re including these ads all over the web. You’d write Buy Cheap <<TERMS>> to use keywords you’re bidding on (such as leather shoes or red boots). This would produce ad headlines that dynamically read as Buy Cheap Leather Shoes or Buy Cheap Red Boots.

Test, Measure, and Optimize
The one essential step of any successful pay per click advertising campaign is to diligently optimize. By implementing the headline strategies above, you’ll likely end up with lots of different ad variations. Test and evaluate each one, revising each variation to include elements of those that perform the best.

As Hopkins wrote in 1923, but could’ve easily written today, “You are presenting an ad to millions. Among them is a percentage, small or large, whom you hope to interest. Go after that percentage and try to strike the chord that responds.”

Since 2001, Advertise.com has offered competitive online advertiser and publisher solutions to companies around the globe. Our mission is to help advertisers achieve their best ROI with high-quality, cost-effective ad units, as well as provide our publishers with monetization tools that yield the highest revenues. Contact us to learn more or get started with your advertising campaigns.