Crafting Headlines that Convert - get attention appropriately

Aaron's picture

Crafting headlines that get attention is fairly easy, but

crafting headlines that receives appropriate attention is quite different and relies on several ingredients:

  • art
  • research 
  • know-how
  • connection
  • and more. . .

But, certainly the surest way to get appropriate attention with headlines relies on 1 process:

Tracking, testing and improving.

You can do a lifetime of research and have decades of experience in crafting headlines, and then complete all of the market research on competition, studying industry controls (copy that has garnered more sales than the competition), survey and understand the depths of the customer - product - benefit connections, but if you do not test, track and improve - you will never know how much advertising and efforts are being left in neverland.

How to get attention appropriately:

Research and foundation:

Do the usual "due-diligence" by surveying all of the competitive advertising that costs real money by your competition.


Copy (ads) that costs real money is a significant investment and if your competition continues to run ads that drain the profitability, they would not be in business for long, or they would change the ads (and stay in business), and better

they would test and improve their ads and increase profitability.

Formulate an "insight list"

Build a "top 20" list of headlines that appear to convey different benefits, or convey similar benefits differently.

If you cannot find 20, brainstorm the benefits (not features) of your product or service

If you find more than 20, build a list of the most relevant.

Pilot test before taking the plunge

There are a million ways to pilot test your insight list.  

Finding the most appropriate media to test your ads (while giving you complete control of tracking) is vital.  

Additionally, it is important to test in media streams where your prospects will be actively responding (an entire other variable to  test alone).

Running a simple Google AdSense campaign (or other trackable PPA or PPC service), using Google Website Optimizer or other split testing tools can help you figure out which ads are pulling the most response.

but here is a major catch. . .

More response is not necessarily appropriate response (depends on the goal)

Getting people to click on an ad is fairly easy, but getting the right people to click on an ad is another science (not a game, a real science)

It would be fairly easy to create a headline or Ad graphic that

  • arouses a ton of curiosity
  • pulls a lot of clicks or response
  • is easily related to your product and their desires
  • but performs poorly for sales conversions 

Many ads get attention and action, but do not get the attention and action associated with a willing or future buyer.

So what makes the difference?

Multi-point tracking: Tracking the entire conversion process from ad to sale or ad to oblivion is essential 
(we call this pipeline tracking and involves testing and tracking things that we can change or control at every point in the sales and marketing funnel.)

Single-point tracking:  Tracking an ad to a single action is simple and can be highly misleading, unless that single point action is testing a single call to action which is the end goal.

However, most first time sales do not happen at first contact (there are exceptions in certain markets and conditions, but we're talking about every day sales and marketing funnel processes).

Once you have your sales funnel and tracking processes in place, test away!

  • If your traffic is fairly low, do simple A/B split tests with a single variable starting with (free) Google Website Optimizer.
  • If your traffic is fairly high, multivariate tests are the way to go (and there are tons of softwares and services for this). 

You can start with Google Website Optimizer for either case, but if your budget allows, there are other options that might fit your needs more appropriately. created a great little website that if fairly complete and compares many of the latest in MVT software.

You can compare them here:

So what can - should I test in my headline?

The number of things you can and should test are fairly endless, but you can start with some of the following generalities:

  • Test the Font face, size and color
  • Test the headline placement (on the page)
  • Test the use of words like "you" and "your" in the headline
  • Test different hooks in the headline (a hook draws the reader's interest deeper into the copy)
  • Test different benefits
  • Test the approach or wording of the benefit
  • Test the mood or attitude of the benefit (avoiding a negative or approaching a positive)
  • Test the "hype-factor" of your headline (do your buyers prefer pizzazz or a little toning down?)

-What other factors could you test in the headline?  

-What other factors HAVE you tested in headlines?

For more information on headlines, there are many great books out there, including a great read by Victor Schwab " How to Write a Good  Advertisement - a Short Course in Copywriting"

You can also download our free squeeze page report that has more about headlines and other parts of the process to help you increase your opt-ins and response rates.

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