By Owen Fay . Posted on August 5, 2022

A headline can be one of the most important parts of your ad, about 80% of the audience will only read your headline to decide if they want to learn more or convert through your ad. The headline needs to be engaging, persuasive, and match the users search intent to get them to become a customer.

The headline plays the most important role in your ads, a headline that gives the users what they are looking for and attracts the user to learn more can set your ads up for success. But, a bad headline will lead to wasted ad spend, little to no conversions, and poor performance in your ads.

By testing your headlines or validating your ideas before going live you can save time, money, and find the headlines that set your campaigns up for success. In this article we will cover headlines testing, why you need to optimize your headlines, and how you can get the best feedback before launch.

What is Headline Testing?

Headline testing is a process of developing multiple ad title variations that can then be compared by presenting them to different audience segments to understand which one is more powerful, effective, and will perform the best. Alternatively, if you need a headline validated, getting feedback just before you go live can give you the feedback you need to understand what headlines your audience will engage with.

Headline testing can be done to optimize the heading of a digital ad, article, or other content. Optimization can be based on metrics like click-through, respondents’ preferences, and opinions to create headlines that users will engage with.

The poor-performing variations can be eliminated so that users who see your ads are exposed to the best-performing headline choice, increasing their likelihood of engagement.

Why Headline Optimization is Important

A headline serves as a first impression when a user is viewing your advertisements. Powerful headlines will grab the attention of the user and lead them to click on the ad. You might have an amazing product, but if you aren’t capturing your user’s attention with the headline, you won’t get clicks.

Strong headlines will catch the user’s eye and encourage them to click on the ad. When searching for something, almost 80% of people only read the headlines. That means, eighty percent of your audience has been won over by just the headline. A powerful headline will draw in readers and turn them into leads, increasing the likelihood that your company will make a sale.

You just have a few seconds to persuade someone that your business can take care of their issue, respond to their inquiry, or satisfy their need. Therefore, be careful to create an ad group for each distinct keyword when you are developing (or modifying) your Google Ads campaign. You can use the keyword or search term in your headline to create ads that are more likely to get clicks.

What to Consider When Testing Headlines

1. Keywords

Headlines should include relevant and high-performing keywords that users are searching for.

Using the right keywords in headlines makes them more likely to come up in search results. This leads to your website getting more traffic and as a result more conversion opportunities.

Using search-friendly copy means you are using the same words your customers are using. Every effective marketer knows that to effectively communicate with users, you need to speak their language.

Creating headlines that are key-word focused means customers find the content more engaging. Tools like Google analytics have features that let you find the most popular search terms that your target audience is using when they find your content.

Focusing on these keywords as well as doing additional keyword research on keywords you want to rank for will help you optimize headlines, increase leads, and conversion opportunities.

2. Search Intent

A headline should not only match the content of your website but also relate to the rest of your ad. While you want to use keywords and attention-grabbing language, the content that follows your headline needs to match.

The headline must be a brief introduction to the content to follow and the landing page that the user is sent to once they click on an ad. Headlines serve as a first impression, they should make users want to learn more, if the copy or pages attached don’t match the headline’s offerings you will immediately lose out on leads and conversions.

Headlines are one of if not the most important element of your digital ads but you need to also consider the rest of the copy. Don’t use keywords just to get more eyes on your ads, use keywords and copy that fit the business and communicate value to the user.

3. Benefits

The main goal of your headline is to connect with the consumer, not to sell the product. A headline needs to serve as a hook that grabs the attention of the user. The headline will determine if a potential customer wants to learn more about the organization.

Stating the benefits, not features means the central message of the headline is about how your offerings solve consumer pain points and problems. It will explain the value the users get by reading more or clicking on the ad.

Make the consumer the focus of the headline, the product or service should solve their issues and make it easy for them to accomplish their goals. If you focus on the features of the resource you are advertising users won’t understand exactly what they get out of taking the desired action.

4. Length

A headline should be short and to the point, they need to effectively communicate the value proposition in as few words as possible. The headline needs to get to the point, as we said you only have a few seconds to engage users. If you write long headlines, users are more likely to skip your ad and find content that clearly solves their problem.

Users prefer clear and straightforward headlines over funny, cute, or overly descriptive ones. When you are creating headline copy for your digital ads consider a number of options, if you struggle with creating effective headlines you can utilize the power of AI-backed software with the Headline Optimizer by Poll the People.

With just a keyword our tool will generate value-specific headlines that will drive clicks and lead to more conversion opportunities. Once you have your powerful headlines you can also use the tool to test them with real users and gather valuable insights in under one hour.

5. CTAs

An effective CTA will go a long way in getting users to take the next step to convert through your ads. You need to clearly tell users what you want them to do and what they are getting out of clicking on your ad. These can include offers like 25% off to get users to engage with your headline and convert.

Never assume people will know what you want them to do once they have an interest in your business. Spell out exactly what they have to do to benefit from your offerings with simple, straightforward language.

Consider the end goal of your ad when writing a CTA. Do you want users to sign up? Purchase a product? Are you just driving traffic to your website? Collecting leads?

For example: if you want users to buy your product include “buy” in the CTA. If you want them to read an article include “learn more”. Make sure to use strong language and action verbs in your CTA to grab attention and tell users what the next step is.

Benefits of Headline Testing

1. Data-Backed Decision Making

You have all of the information you need to validate headline copy or find the best headline. It is hard to dispute the winning option when you have all of the feedback to support the decision. Testing reveals which headline is most popular, or if a headline will work for your audience, allowing you to finalize a headline and convince your team to roll with it.

2. Understanding Your Audience

You can divide your audience into demographic groups to understand how they react to each option. You can look into how different groups (age, gender, location, etc.) think about each of the possible headlines by filtering the test responses.

3. High-Quality Feedback

Poll the People gives you the best feedback from your audience to make a decision fast. The platform has automatic response rejection to give you only the best responses while giving you the exact number of responses you need. In other words, if you get 5 “bad” responses out of 100 Poll the People will automatically reject them and give you 5 more to hit your mark.

4. Save Time & Money

Your headline has such a significant impact on your advertising initiatives, the ability to find the best headlines for your ads at a low cost and under an hour is exactly what you’ll get. Poll the People lets you do a headline test in under 60 minutes with a panel of thousands that will give you great feedback on the question and test instructions you give them.

How to Conduct a Headline Test

Headline testing template

The process of running a headline test is to use your original or first headline as a control and create at least one or two variations to be compared against the original. Many large organizations test as many as 25 ad headlines before they decide on the headline they want to run with.

Most of these businesses utilize an A/B testing tool to split the traffic that reaches each ad and display the headline variations to different audiences. This type of testing happens in a live environment, with metrics like traffic, click-through, and conversions to determine which headline is the most effective.

The A/B testing platform will gather data from the test and determine a winner once a significant number of people have viewed or interacted with the headlines.

While this works for medium to large organizations, many smaller companies don’t have a significant amount of traffic, time, or budget to run a live A/B test.

A great alternative for smaller companies is a remote, remote user test. This testing method allows any organization to find the headlines that work best in a matter of hours. You will be able to compare headlines and present them to a panel of your target audience. The panel will give their feedback and choose the ad headline they prefer.

1. Choose What You Want to Test

The first stage in headline testing is to create a list of potential choices or identify the headlines you think is best for your ads. There are two options to testing headlines with Poll the People, the first is to run an A/B style test. Here you compare the two headline variations to find the one that the target audience thinks is the best fit for your business. This is the most traditional method, giving you feedback on which headline will be more engaging.

The second option is to get your headline validated with high-quality feedback from your audience. The open-ended testing template allows you to gather feedback on a single headline option to validate it before going live with free-form responses from the panel.

2. Ask the Right Test Question

Headline test quesiton

Depending on your test objectives, the questions you ask in the headline test can be as generic or as detailed as you want. You might ask about engagement and uniqueness in particular if you want to know if a certain headline will capture people’s attention or not.

A few things you should consider in your test:

  • Is the headline unique enough to stand out in search results, or will it get lost in all the other content?
  • Does the headline match search intent or is it a generic regurgitation of your brand or product?
  • Is your target audience attracted to the headline?
  • Does the headline entice customers to become a customer through CTAs or offers?

3. Gain a Statistically Significant Number of Responses

Brand name test audience

Statistical significance lets you know if the results are accurate and supported or if it is simply by chance.

When testing a headline, you need to ask enough users what name they prefer or for their feedback on your options to understand if it will work for the target audience. Typically, about 100 users can give you statistical significance, and Poll the People gives you access to hundreds of dedicated users that answer your questions in about an hour.

The only way to know if a potential headline is truly liked is to have your target audience give you feedback on it.

4. Analyze Results and Select a Headline

headline test results

The final stage is to evaluate your headlines by analyzing the feedback received. This might just be the most important part of headline testing, it’s where you make your final decision based on all of the feedback you got.

If your survey contained open-ended questions, make sure to look at the answers to those as well. Poll the People gives you an easy-to-understand results dashboard to help understand the winning headline and use the feedback to create the perfect ad.

How to Develop Headline Variations

Many studies have shown that specific words and phrases in an ad headline can lead to higher click-through rates, increased traffic, and conversions.

Headlines that include keywords, focus on benefits and include a CTA (call-to-action) have been shown to convert more users. The best headlines follow these tips:

  • Focus on Benefits, Not Features
  • Include Relevant Keywords
  • Avoid Lengthy Headlines
  • Match Headlines to Ad Copy and Content
  • Offer a Solution
  • Include a CTA

Headline variations can be created in a number of ways, the first is to understand the keywords you want to rank for and consider the search intent of your target audience. Once you have done your research, create headlines that explain your value proposition in as few words as possible.

Consider using multiple orders for your headlines, different approaches to explaining the value to users, multiple CTAs, and approaches to driving interest.

Headline Optimization with Poll the People

If you have a hard time coming up with headline variations or don’t want to leave the decision-making process up to one or a few individuals, the Headline Optimizer by Poll the People can help.

The Google Headline Optimizer by Poll the People allows you to write user-friendly headlines that drive clicks. Optimize your headlines by tying them directly to your keywords and targets.

The tool lets SEM marketers optimize their headlines by getting valuable feedback from a human panel of testers.

Testing the headlines in front of real users helps optimize the headline, improve CTR, and reduce costs. This can all be done – even before going live.

We have taken the concept of user testing and reduced it from 10 days to 1 hour. This unleashes new use cases like the headline optimization – where ad headlines can be optimized using human feedback.

Start Headline Testing Today

Headline testing can seem complicated, but with the help of the Google Headline Optimizer and A/B testing from Poll the People ad headline testing is simple. Poll the People is a lightning-fast user testing platform that gives you actionable data in under an hour.

Poll the People offers free sign-ups and plans for any organization, every marketer, researcher, or team can create better ad headlines with the help of AI software and user testing. Ad headline testing is a key practice that can increase traffic, leads, and conversion opportunities. Start testing your headlines today with Poll the People

Owen Fay

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