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April 4, 2017

An ad is only as strong as its headline. After the main visual element, the Headline is the most prominent part of an ad and is the largest space for text. A recent study from CopyBlogger found that “8 out of 10 people will read a headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”

If you aren’t convinced yet, simply look to the words of David Ogilvy on headlines: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

At Bamboo, we think headlines are so important critical that we have conducted research to reveal the strongest components of a successful ad headline. Here’s what we found.

Performance Insights

These best practices are from past performance from our actual Facebook advertising campaigns with dozens of clients.

Some of the styles that contributed to stronger performance:

  • Every best performing headline was 3-6 words long
  • 83% of top headlines did not use a period at the end
  • 50% of top headlines began with an action word
  • 25% of top headlines used superlative adjectives (e.g: “Buy the most comfortable shoes ever made”)

Some of the styles that didn’t prove to be as important:

  • Only 16% of top headlines mention the name of the app or service
  • Only 16% of top headlines used specific price points


Facebook Headlines Best Practices


1. Include Partner Names

If the name of one of your partners is stronger than your own brand name, be open to leveraging that for the sake of familiarity. Only 16% of the top headlines we analyzed had the actual service or app name in the headline. Instead, many headlines opt to have stronger partner brands showcased.

In the example below, we see Zappos leveraging the Hunter shoe brand to increase their credibility as a footwear retailer.


2. Use Attention-Grabbing Copy

New, New, New
Including specific, stand-out words can increase the strength of a headline. For example, headlines which signal that something is “new” are often winners. Try utilizing keywords such as “new, introducing, amazing, now and suddenly” to increase ad lift. In the headline below, we see the utilization of “new”. Not only is the word used in the headline, but it is the first word and draws the user in immediately.


In addition, if something is free – especially if that thing is high value or often requires payment – calling out “Free” in a headline should perform above average. Free softens the idea of a product or service being sold. This can help decrease the barrier to trying something new, on top of being attention-grabbing. As you can see below, Lyft capitalizes on a free offer. While they do not explicitly state the free offer in the headline, the promotional code and image point to a free trial.
Award Winning
If a service has been featured or given a brand-name award, this may be strong enough to lead with. For example, including “Featured App by Apple” or “#1 Rated by Forrester” establishes trust and validation.Learn more tips on design optimization from our friends at AdHawk.

3. Reinforce With a Quote or Specific Numbers

Ogilvy noted that quotes in headlines had 28% better recall.

A succinct and descriptive quote can yield positive results. If you have a finance app showing a quote of “I love this app,” it may not be specific enough. By being more specific – say, “The app that finally made me understand finance”, you’re much more likely to resonate with the right audience.

Specific Numbers
Numbers are a way to prove concrete success. A tangible metric will always prevail over vague descriptions. “The service small business owners love!” is weaker than “The service 3 million+ small business owners love”. The number proves the validity of the business, and therefore, the validity of the ad.


4. Begin With an Actionable Word

Actionable Words
Beginning with a verb provokes action. Since you only have a few words to make a statement, be sure to use the most powerful verbs. Make sure the first word you use in the headline has a clear purpose, a clear CTA. 
The example provided blow not only begins with an action word (“Take”), it also entices users with a promotional offer. 


5. Position Against a Known Alternative

The copy below connects a new, unfamiliar service – on-demand storage – with something more well-known but not well regarded – big storage centers.This technique works because it helps give your service a position in consumer’s minds, something that is challenging with new offerings.

Interested in taking your Facebook creative strategy to the next level? Learn more about Bamboo’s Facebook advertising expertise and services >

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