Do you believe in the old saying?
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.
Today I want to give you some practical advice that you can use in your own offline and online marketing.
In a nutshell this is all about how you can indeed make your first impression count!
Whether your ad is on a flyer, in the classifieds or on Google Adwords, your first impression is without doubt your headline. This is the most important element of any ad. Regardless of whether your ad is printed on an A-Board in the street, displayed online in Google or handwritten on a postcard in a shop window, your headline will make or break the profitability of your ad.
Harsh but true!
The good news is that your headline only has one job to do.
It simply has to be compelling enough to grab someone’s attention and motivate them to read the rest of your ad copy. In the offline world five times the number of people read the headline as they do the rest of the ad. This is simply because too many businesses do not spend enough time crafting effective headlines.
Generally headlines should be long enough to include the main point of your ad. This may mean you have to use as many as 20 words. Unfortunately you don’t have this luxury when you use Google Adwords.
Google only give you 25 characters for the headline. Much like printed media, without a great headline it’s less likely your prospect will bother to read the 70 characters you are given to create your ad text.
When it comes to Adwords headline writing, brevity is the order of the day.
To help you write your Google Adwords headlines I have listed 15 ways with examples for you to successfully craft great headlines for your business. Whilst pertinent to Adwords, they are just as relevant to any other form of marketing you may do.
1. Recognise A Problem By Asking A Question
The great copywriter Robert Collier once said we must enter into the conversation your prospect is already having. Thus a highly effective headline is one that replicates the question being asked in your prospect’s mind. For example:
Looking For An Osteopath?
I particularly like this headline, because whilst other advertisers use their business name in the headline, this ad strikes right to the core of what someone searching on the word “osteopath” is thinking right at that moment. I also like it because it uses up all of the 25 characters allowed!
Equally how about this ad?
Need A Local Physio Now?
Making a headline time sensitive, always forces the prospect to ask themselves whether it’s time to take action.
Imagine if your ad was being displayed on Google’s Display Network where you have the choice to display your ad on a sports related website, for example one about football. In this scenario you could target footballers with sports injuries by running a headline like the one below:
Suffering from Knee Pain?
Finally remember you have a maximum of 24 characters for your words, because you need to allow one for the question mark!
2. Promise A Benefit
Focus on the benefits your prospects will receive from using your services. No one wants to hear that you are the best chiropractor in town, they will always be thinking what’s in it for themselves first. Hence you should promise a benefit before possibly mentioning a feature. Thus you could run the following headline before going onto mention a feature such as your prices or location.
Get Back Pain Relief Now!
3. Deliver News
Use your headline to convey news. Delivering news always works well. To help you write this kind of headline use these tried and tested words: Introducing, New, Finally and Revealed.
New Physio Clinic In Fife
4. Make An Offer
If you’re running a promotion you can use your headline to describe exactly what it is, as in this example below:
First Visit – Save £10!
5. Use Action Words
Use words that convey your prospect to take action. For example start your headline with words like Find, Look and Get.
Get Osteopathic Treatment
6. Quote A Satisfied Customer
Test using headlines that inform the prospect of what others are saying about you. Whilst it’s a given you will be using social proof in your ad copy, why not test it in your headlines, like these examples:
“Superb Value” – ABC News
“Best In Town!” – Radio 2
7. Tell a Story
Draw your prospect in by telling a story. Talk to your target market and create stories you know will compel them to take action.
How Ted Cured His Pain!
8. Create an emotional response
Whilst all headlines should create some kind of deep and emotional response, it’s worth testing ones that take it a notch higher in provoking a response.
No More Excuses! Call Now
Ouch, Fix Your Back Now!
9. Use “How To …”
Often the best headlines are the simplest. If you start your headlines with the words “How To” you are left with 18 characters to describe exactly what the prospect will gain from interacting with you.
How To Get Pain Relief!
10. Put your headline in speech marks
“The Father of Advertising” David Oglivy once said that putting your headline in speech marks increases recall by 28%. Thus you can run a headline like this one:
“Need An Acupuncturist?”
Or only use them around some of the words in the headline as shown in this example:
“Ouch” Knee Ache? Fix Now
11. Capitalise the words in your headline
You should always split test your own headlines, but from my own testing a headline like this one:
Need A Chiropractor Now?
will always consistently out perform this similar one:
Need a chiropractor now?
12. Use ASCII characters
Consider using ASCII characters like the hypen (-), plus sign (+), question mark (?), percent sign (%), registered trademark (®), exclamation mark (!), asterisk (*), double dashes (–) , elipses (…) and the pound sign ( £) to grab your prospect’s attention.
Save 5% On Your 1st Visit!
13. Use numbers
In a world of text ads you can make your Google Ad stand out by using numbers. The more detailed you make the pricing, the more believable it is in your prospect’s mind.
First Consult Only £37.50
14. Include your location / town
People like to hear about what’s happening in the area where they live. They are attracted to headlines that relate to their locality.
Low Rate For SW4 Patients
15. Include your keywords in the headline
Each time you include the keyword phrase you are bidding on in your headline, Google bolds these words. Thus for the keyword phrase “Back Pain Relief” your headline would look like this:
Get Back Pain Relief Now!
Use these tips to brainstorm your own headlines.
Write out 20 variations and then make a point of coming back the next day to review them. As you review your ads take a note of what one stops you in your tracks.
I’m always reminded of these famous words by the famous American advertising creative director William Bernbach:
“You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen.”
Remember the next time you see a great headline, add it to your swipe file. I’m sure with a few tweaks you will be able to incorporate it into your own offline and online marketing.
It takes time to craft an effective headline, but the effort is definitely worth it.