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How to Write a Killer Headline for an Online Ad

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Headlines are the most important part of any ad. They’re the first thing people read, so you need to get them right to get people’s attention. 

According to the father of advertising, David Ogilvy, the headline is 80% of the sale. That’s huge! That means the rest of the ad copy pales in comparison. 

To help you write killer ad headlines, we’ve put together 13 tips. You won’t always be able to apply all of them for each ad headline, but you should try to follow as many as you can. Here they are: 

  • Know your audience 

Before you set pen to paper, you need to know your target audience. Are you aiming to sell to a specific demographic? Make this clear from the outset. 

Say you sell home photography services to real estate investors in Chicago. Having this top of mind is key when drafting your ad headline. 

  • Solve a problem

Next, your ad headline needs to show how you can solve a problem. Identify a pain point held by your target audience and position your product (or service) as the solution.

For example, if your target audience is real estate investors in Chicago and they struggle to find tenants, your ad headline could highlight how your high-quality listing photography increases occupancy rates.

Remember, people don’t buy things, they buy solutions. 

  • Focus on benefits

This point is related to the last. It’s tempting to detail the features you offer (e.g. the type of camera and editing software you use or your hard work ethic), but the truth is nobody really cares about you or your product’s features. They want to know what’s in it for them.

So be sure to focus on benefits like “saving time” or “attracting more tenants.” 

  • Get straight to the point

People don’t read on the internet—they skim. That means you need to get straight to the point with your ad headline. Say exactly what it is you’re offering and, if possible, to whom and at what price. 

The faster you can get to the point, the more readers will absorb the ad.

  • Follow ad platform regulations

Ad platforms like Google Ads have strict ad requirements. For example, the ad headline may only contain up to 30 characters. Be sure to follow these rules to a T. Otherwise, your ad headline will be for naught. 

In worst-case scenarios, you could get your ad account suspended and need to reverse it to reinstate your account privileges. 

  • Convey urgency

Humans are highly motivated by the fear of missing out (FOMO). Leverage this in your ad headlines by conveying urgency. 

You can do this by making a limited-time offer or emphasizing that the sooner someone buys, the sooner their problem will be solved.

Sometimes this is all you need to get prospects to pull the trigger.

  • Appeal to emotion

On top of appealing to urgency, you can appeal to other emotions like greed, curiosity, lust, anger, and fear. All of these will help you elicit an emotional response from readers and get them to engage with your ad.

  • Include numbers

Numbers make your ad headline more concrete. People can visualize your offer better when it’s quantifiable. For example, you might include the fact that you offer “24/7 service.” 

People tend to trust numbers more than they do abstract claims (e.g. that you’re “the number one” business in your industry). Give numbers to be more specific and concrete.

  • Address the reader directly

Addressing the reader directly helps engage them. Write in second person with words like “you” and “your” and ask questions. For example, you could simply write “Hungry?” and then introduce your restaurant business.

  •  Use simple language

Your ad headline should avoid complex language and jargon. You need to get your message across fast and these things stand in the way. If your headline uses simple words, it will be easier to read. 

  •  Don’t make false promises

Making promises in the ad headline that you can’t deliver on will only make your prospects mad and cause you to lose credibility. Avoid clickbait at all costs.

  •  Be clear about your offer

Don’t make people guess what it is you’re selling. Be crystal clear so that readers immediately understand your offer. If your headline is confusing, they’ll ignore it.

  •  Check grammar, punctuation, and spelling

Lastly, check your ad headline for proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If it has any mistakes, it will look unprofessional and you’ll lose credibility fast.

Endnote

That’s it! If you can implement even just some of the above tips, your ad headline will attract many more leads. A/B test a few different versions of the ad headline and see which performs best. Then follow the data.

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