This post was originally published May 20, 2015. I have updated it extensively and republished it on May 16, 2016.
Listen up, freelancers…
As a lot of you know, the primary service I offer my clients is social media management, which depending on the client, often consists of a whole bunch of moving parts…
- Daily posting
- Comment moderation
- Driving engagement
- Proactive outreach
And quite often, a paid advertising strategy.
No one single aspect of social media management is especially daunting on its own, but put altogether, it might seem like a lot if you have little social media training or experience.
So it’s that final aspect — a paid advertising strategy — that I really want to focus on in this post.
It might surprise you to learn that there is an abundance of work available for freelancers with ad management skills.
From writing ad copy, to creating ad images, to split testing ad variations, to tweaking target audiences, to lowering the cost per click of your campaigns, small and large businesses are eager to outsource this aspect of marketing to well qualified individuals.
(That potentially means you…!)
And this is most certainly true of creating and managing ads on Facebook in particular.
So if you’re new to building an online, service-based business, and you still haven’t totally found your groove yet in terms of what services you might like to offer, this is a niche you may wish to strongly consider.Consider offering Facebook ad campaign management to potential clients.Click To Tweet
And if you know very little about paid advertising on Facebook, don’t worry — there are literally thousands of free resources out there to help you develop your skills.
For the purposes of this post, I want to focus specifically on how to write killer Facebook ad headlines. After all, compelling headline copy will drastically impact the results of your campaign.
And best of all, you could even make effective use of Facebook ads to market your own services and products.
Let’s get started.
What’s All the Fuss About Facebook Ads?
If you have the marketing dollars to spend, Facebook ads are an incredibly effective way to reach your best target customers. But with barriers to entry set so low, just about anyone with a credit card an an internet connection can create a Facebook ad.
And as we are about to explore, some marketers craft some really compelling ad copy… and many do not.
Not sure what I mean when I refer to Facebook ad headlines?
Here’s an example:
The headline is that part you see above in the red box.
Your Facebook ad headline should be structured, in most cases, as a compelling call to action. After all, if the largest and boldest portion of your ad copy fails to create action — or to capture attention at the very least — the rest of your copy is not likely to matter.
Your objective in writing a compelling headline will be to generate a click on your Facebook ad.
Tweaking your ad to get more clicks can help to keep the overall cost of your ad campaign down, especially if you chose to optimize for impressions in the Ads Manager.
But considering that Facebook ad headlines must be 25 characters or less, that is no easy task.
Here’s a Look at What Works
Let’s begin by looking at four strategies to write killer Facebook ad headlines, including some real examples I captured.
After that, we will look at three ineffective strategies.
(1) Give direction
Studies repeatedly show that calls to action work best if you tell the user exactly what to do, or what they will be doing by clicking your ad.
In this first example, I get a very clear understanding of what to expect if I click that ad.
The image does a great job of illustrating a typical hand drawn marketing video, and the Facebook ad headline instructs me to review the 500+ items in their portfolio.
This second example is similar, but it is shorter and has an exclamation mark on the end… both good things.
Verifying my business also implies that my business may currently be unverified, which increases the likelihood I may click that ad.
(2) Ask a question
Asking a question is a great way to capture attention, regain control of a conversation, and to get a marketing message noticed.
From a psychological perspective, our minds almost always respond to a question, even if not consciously or out loud.
Am I tired of searching?
I think this question could be made more effective. After all, rarely do users search on Facebook for the kind of thing they would find on Fiverr.
Still, the question at least catches my attention.
This second example is better:
Do I want free movies?
In sales, this is sometimes referred to as asking a yes question. The reason is that the only logical response to this question is affirmative. Nobody is going to say, “No, thank you. I would rather pay to watch movies.”
(3) State a benefit
The mistake made by many marketers in their Facebook ad headlines is focusing on features rather than benefits.
- A feature is what a product or service does
- A benefit is why it matters to me
Facebook ad headlines that successfully state a benefit focus on what’s in it for me.
Free shipping, you say?
That’s a definite benefit to buying something. Plus free shipping has been shown to have a positive impact on eCommerce websites.
If the ad image represents something I would actually be interested in purchasing, a benefit or reason to buy today might compel me to click the ad.
In this second Facebook ad headline, I am presented with two benefits:
- Grow my site
- For free
If you want to take it a step further, you could say SumoMe also gave me direction to proceed, as referenced in my first point above.
Overall, this is an effective use of stating benefits over features.
(4) Keep it simple
Misleading and confusing Facebook ad headlines discourage clicks. Precious few Facebook users are going to spend the time deciphering your ad to figure out what it really means.
My fourth and final suggestion for writing killer Facebook ad headline copy is to keep it short and sweet.
In other words, I should be able to immediately figure out what your ad is about on a single glance.
For those who don’t know, SCENE is a rewards program tied to the Canadian theater chain, Cineplex.
(This is why ad targeting is so important… if your country doesn’t have SCENE or Cineplex, this ad would be useless!)
This ad tells me, in no uncertain terms, that SCENE members get discounts — presumably on concessions, based on the chosen image.
Now, let’s look at a different example:
Fiverr is featuring sellers that offer affiliate websites for $5. If I were into affiliate marketing, which to some extent I am, this Facebook ad headline might be very effective.
Again, I can tell on a single glance exactly what this ad is about. Even the image describes Fiverr quickly and easily.
I also think it is worth noting that both of these examples feature three-word headlines. I doubt that is a coincidence.
Here’s What Doesn’t Work
Simple, benefit-driven headlines work.
Questions can be effective, as well as directive calls to action.
So let’s take a look at what plainly doesn’t work…
(1) Don’t mislead users
Here is the problem with misleading ads — they’re a waste of your money!
Even if your misleading Facebook ad headline gets clicked, now what?
The user will be taken to your landing page or sales page and presented with an offer that seems inconsistent with the ad they saw. In all probability, they will exit from your offer, and you will have paid Facebook for the click.
Here is a perfect example:
On first glance, you might be wondering what the problem is… this is a compelling question, isn’t it? As baby-focused as new parents on Facebook tend to be, wouldn’t this be effective?
Maybe… until you read the rest of the copy.
This is an ad for a credit reporting agency.
Although the marketer(s) behind this ad wanted to play into the instincts of new parents, give this some additional thought… would you have known this ad had anything to do with your credit score if you had stopped reading after the headline?
And therein lies the problem.
If I just had a son or a daughter, and I clicked that ad accordingly, I would not be expecting to see the TransUnion website on the other side.
Not only was the money spent on my click a total waste, but I am now of the opinion that this company misled me.
(2) Avoid confusion
You are only given 25 characters to compose to your Facebook ad headline… think about that carefully! The only thing those characters should be used for is telling me exactly why I should click.
It baffles me when I see marketers create headlines that tell me what a service or product is not.
Tell me what it is!
Here is a perfect example:
The fabric of my life?
What does that even mean?
Upon further investigation, I discovered that this ad is intended to target users with an interest in fabrics and textile artistry. But even if that described me, how would such an ambiguous title capture my attention?
Literally anything could have been less confusing, such as:
Do You Love Fabrics?
Are You a Textile Artist?
See Awesome Textile Art
See what I mean?
I made up those three headlines on the fly, and literally every single one of them is more compelling than the example shown.
(3) What’s in a name?
Perhaps the most absurd Facebook ad headlines I see are the ones that feature nothing but the name of the company.
Here are two examples:
Alright, I can sort of appreciate where the Canadian Opera Company was coming from… I mean, opera isn’t something you find on every corner you pass. If I were interested in opera, the title might be compelling to some extent.
But considering they already branded their image, couldn’t they have used that headline for something more compelling? Such as,
Opera Tickets from $49
That stated benefit is more compelling than the name of the opera company.
The second example is even worse:
My biggest issue with this ad is that GetResponse is a fairly large company that offers business email and marketing solutions.
And despite all that talent on their team, no one thought to come up with a more compelling call to action than this?
Chances are, if I am interested in setting up an autoresponder or automating my business email services, I have probably heard of GetResponse. If I had any inclination to explore their services, it certainly would not be as a result of their company name.
- Why not share with me a benefit to using your service?
- Or ask me what solution I am currently using?
Better yet, why not leverage their widely known competitors to get my attention?
GetResponse > MailChimp
-15% for AWeber Clients
Anyway, I would be interested to see what the actual clickthrough rate on this ad was. Perhaps I am totally mistaken, and this was one of their best performing marketing initiatives of all time.
But in all truth?
I doubt it.
If you want to create killer Facebook ad headlines, focus on the basics:
- Give direction
- Ask a question
- State a benefit
- Keep it simple
These methods repeatedly capture the most attention and generate the highest numbers of clicks.Follow these four methods to generate the highest number of clicks of your Facebook ads:Click To Tweet
And just by knowing and following these four, simple tips, you’re well on your way to writing killer Facebook ad headlines.
Just before I wrap this post up, let me ask…
What’s the most absurd ad headline you’ve ever seen on Facebook?
Post some of your observations in the comments below, and I will be sure to check them out.