10 Ways To Create High Converting Headlines

ab testing headlines

One of the simplest ways to boost your conversion rate is by tweaking your headline copy. If you don’t believe me, just look at KISSmetrics.com, I was able to boost my conversion rate by 40% by simply adjusting the headline copy.

That’s right…40%.

So, what was the original headline? It was: KISSmetrics helps you get actionable metrics for your business.

And the new one is: Google Analytics tells you what happened, KISSmetrics tells you who did it.

So, how can you boost your conversion rate through headlines? Well, there are a few simple strategies you can test:

Test #1: Solution selling

People are looking for your product or service because you are offering a solution to their problem. If you can clearly identify what their problem is and represent the solution as well as the benefit in the headline, you are likely to increase your conversion rate.

MarketingProfs did a headline test in which they tried solution selling. As a result, they were able to boost their conversion rate by 28%.

ab testing marketingprofs

Solution selling only works if you know phrases and key words that resonate most closely with your customers. The easiest way to figure out what words your customers like is to survey them. Here are a few questions you can ask them:

  • What’s the biggest problem we can help you solve?
  • What are you looking for in your ideal solution?

Test #2: Use the word “free”

Who doesn’t like free stuff? For that reason, you should consider using the word “free” in your headlines, assuming you are offering something for free such as a “free trial”.

Highrise did a test in which they added the phrase “free trial” to their headline and boosted their conversion rate by 30%.

ab testing highrise

If your product or service doesn’t offer a free trial, you can also use pricing phrases within your headline. For example, on Crazy Egg, we found that having the phrase “without the high costs” in our headline converts better than using the phrase “free trial”.

People don’t want to commit to anything they aren’t too familiar with. By reducing their commitment through free trials, reduced prices or even money back guarantees, you can increase your conversion rates. Consider using any one of these three tactics within your headline copy.

Test #3: Create a comparison

We used this tactic with KISSmetrics to boost our conversion rate by 40%. We related our product to Google Analytics, a product with which all of our potential customers are very familiar.

ab testing kissmetrics

By comparing ourselves to a product our potential customers use, we helped them figure out what we do within seconds. This is the main reason our conversion rate increased.

We also tested a few other headline variations, but the “Google Analytics tells you what happened, KISSmetrics tells you who did it” variation won by 40%.

When you are creating your headline copy, consider testing a version that compares your company against others in your market place.

Test #4: Does your headline match your advertising?

If you create a deceiving headline in hopes to boost your conversion rate, it can potentially hurt.

Your headline shouldn’t just match your body copy, but it should also match your advertising. If the majority of your traffic comes from paid advertising, test unique headlines that are related to specific adverts.

California Closets did a test with their headline, in which they decided to create a variation that was more related to their advertisements.

ab testing ad copy

Can you guess what the end result was? A 115% increase in conversions! That’s huge.

In an ideal world, each of your advertisements should be pointing to a landing page that has a specific headline tailored to your ad.

Test #5: Make your headline a testimonial

This may sound a bit unconventional, but turning your headline into a testimonial could boost your conversion rate.

LKR Social Media did an A/B test in which they turned their headline into a testimonial. This resulted in a 24.31% increase in their conversion rate.

Here is what the original headline looked liked:

ab testing LKR social media

And here is the testimonial version:

ab testing LKR social media testimonial

By changing the headline to “Yours is the only newsletter I actually read”, the company made people feel like they were missing out if they didn’t subscribe to the LKR newsletter.

If you are going to test this approach, make sure you don’t use a really long testimonial as your headline. A headline is supposed to gain someone’s attention and make him or her want to learn more… you can’t do this by having a headline that is a paragraph long.

Test #6: Tell them what they get

Sometimes the straightforward approach is the best one. CityCliq decided to take this approach versus the solution selling approach.

They tested multiple headlines such as:

  • Businesses grow faster online!
  • Create a webpage for your business.
  • Get found faster!
  • Online advertising that works!

ab testing citycliq

They found that the straightforward headline of “create a webpage for your business” works better than the solution of “get found faster”. The end result was an 89% increase in signups.

You don’t always have to come up with a creative headline to boost your conversion rate. All you have to do is to tell people what you do in a straightforward and simple fashion.

Test #7: Sequence your headlines

It’s very rare that your conversion funnel only consists of one page. Typically you’ll have a few pages… For example, Crazy Egg has a homepage, pricing page, signup page, and a thank-you page.

In other words, the Crazy Egg funnel consists of four steps, which means there are at least four headlines on that site… one headline per page. By making sure your headlines flow with each other, you are more likely to increase your conversion rates.

The Obama Administration tested sequential headlines during their campaign in which the headline in the second step of their funnel was highly relevant to the headline in step one.

ab testing obama

The end result was a 21% increase in conversions. What you should learn from this is that the headlines on each step of your funnel should flow together.

Test #8: Don’t forget sub-headings

Jumpbox did a test with their ads to see if having an ad with a headline converted better or worse than an ad with a headline and sub-heading.

Here is the original version of the ad:

ab testing jumpbox

And here is the variation:

ab testing jumpbox sub-heading

Can you guess which version converted better? The version with the sub-heading boosted click-through rates by 88%.

When you are A/B testing, don’t forget to test having a sub-heading versus not having one. In addition to that, test multiple variations of a sub-heading because some may work better than others.

Test #9: Curiosity sells

On my Quick Sprout Traffic System, I used to use a free trial based headline that converted well. The headline was: “Learn how to double your traffic in 30 days for free”, and I couldn’t come up with a variation that would beat it.

My buddy suggested I try this headline instead: “When Amazon, Viacom and NBC need more traffic to their website this is who they call”. Can you guess what the result was?

ab testing quicksprout

31.7% increase in conversions. I was shocked considering my original headline made a promise and stated it was “free”. But it didn’t convert as well as the headline that evoked curiosity.

Just because something is working well for you doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement.

Test #10: Time-based headlines

People don’t want to go through a lengthy signup process. And they don’t want to use a product or service that’s complicated and time-consuming.

Within your headlines, you can convey that your signup process is short and that your product it easy to use.

With Crazy Egg, we tested a time based sub-heading that told you our product is easy to use and the signup process is short.

ab testing crazyegg

The sub-heading “View your heatmap & get started in less than 60 seconds” boosted our signup conversion rate by 16.2% compared to the sub-heading “You’re just 1 step away from viewing your heatmap”.

Conclusion

Some of the headline ideas I showed you above may boost your conversion rate, while others may not. Don’t just assume that what works for one site will work for you even if that site is in the same space.

You need to continually A/B- test your headlines, and you need to do it in a logical way. The last thing you want to do is to pull headline ideas out of your butt and test them. If you do, you’ll just end up with a lot of losing tests. Instead, you need to survey your visitors, get an understanding of what they want to see and then show it to them.

Before I even run a headline A/B  test, I create a fake landing page with the new headline variation and a call-to-action. The call-to-action doesn’t go anywhere because I am simply tracking how many people click on it. I then buy Google AdWords traffic to that junk landing page to see if people resonate with the new headline by clicking on the call-to-action. If they do, I then start an A/B test.

What other ways can you create high converting headlines?

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Comments

  1. Awesome post, Neil. I’ve been doing a lot of experiments with headlines for my clients. It’s made more of a difference than I thought!

    Very cool to see the Obama administration doing A/B testing. That’s how you know our nerdy industry has gone mainstream!

  2. Wow Neil- first time I’m on your site and the comments section isn’t flooded yet!

  3. Hi Neil,

    I’m a frequent reader here. Great post once again.

    Regarding LKR Social Media original and testimonial version…both showing up same image…

    Thanks
    Jude C

  4. These are great. I don’t do much for online but I use a lot of these strategies for my direct mail and other print campaigns. Humor also works well is certain industries.

    -Amir

  5. Keep the good work Neil, great post :)

  6. Finding myself very lucking after subscribing you through mail.

    Would definately follow you affiliate tips on my blogs.

  7. Yo Neil,

    What about numbers? The title and HEADLINE of this blog post both begin with a numbers.

    Thoughts?

    ———-
    Marvin
    seogroup.com

  8. Neil, great advice about surveying customers first. It’s helpful to give them multiple choice options as well as a field to describe their dream solution. Many catchy sentences can come from the clients. We tested our conversion funnel with Kissmetrics. I was shocked to learn that an infographic style description instead of a video increased our click through rate by 30%.

  9. Great post neil as always.. very insightful and its always great to have examples. However.. i cud nt find the difference in two images of LKR social media example.. M I missing anything.!
    We have been testing a lot with our headlines and a straight forward headlines have worked best for us.
    Thanks again for sharing..

  10. Neil

    I think you forgot to mention one thing.. long tail keywords as your headlines.. That sells best.. for both google and readers

  11. This post is really good Neil, I read a lot of “headline writing” posts before, but yours is really clear and practical, especially with all the examples you give.

    Imma gonna wright me some killah headlines! ;)

    Thx!

  12. OW
    thanks alot for this tips
    I will surly Use some of it
    i always Read your posts :D
    thanks again

  13. Great post. Another resource for headines is Jon Morrows 52 Headline Hacks, http://headlinehacks.com/

  14. Great post Neil, instant takeaways like always!

  15. Two words free and recommendation(testimonial) are increase the curiosity to know the product.Free is more greater than recommendation.If recommendation is added with that it can make lot of changes.

  16. Hi Neil

    Great post as always. Lots of great ideas here with a few more to be grabbed from the old direct marketing world of John Caples and Joe Sugarman.

    I’d say your result for 9 is more about your use of social proof rather than curiosity but whatever the weather a win is a win :)

    All the best

  17. Another great post Neil! A/B testing is one of the challenging aspects of conversion. You really need to determine what is the best user experience one can have on your website.

    Cheers!

  18. Hey Neil,

    Awesome article.

    I am going to be launching my first product for Mr. Geek, a HTML5 CSS3 theme/template.

    How would you suggest the headlines to be for first timers, such as my case?

    I am interested to hear your reply.

    Ali

  19. Another killer article, Neil.

    A tip I learned from master copywriter Michael Masterson is to ask yourself…

    “What do they already know about my product/service?”

    Put your visitors (or specific source of traffic) on a graduate scale from Aware to Unaware.

    The more familiar the visitor source of traffic is of your product, the more a direct headline should be – and the better it will pull.

    ie. “Amazon Hired Niel Patel Because He Is a Traffic Pimp! Be Smart – Hire Him Before Your Competition Does”

    If your traffic source is only aware of the problem, not you or your product…

    “Low Traffic Got You Down? Want The Exact Traffic Strategies Amazon Used To Ratchet Up Their Traffic 6-Trillion Percent For The Price of a Cold Cup of Doughnut Shop Coffee?”

    The less the source of traffic knows about you/product/service the more indirect your headline should be…

    ie. “The 7 Traffic Tactics Amazon Used To Increase Their Organic Website Traffic a Quad Billion Percent Over Just 1 Coffee Break”

    I found this a helpful guideline for the hardest part of the copy writing process – getting started.

    Just another angle to add to your a/b tests.

    Bax Out

  20. Very interesting presentation. We all know how important A-B testing is, but often just go with our educated assumptions, since we are experienced marketers. But the marketplace is always right, and we ignore them at our peril. I am going to make testing more of a priority going forward.

  21. Really helpful points Neil. I’ve been researching and looking for some a/b test for my sites and the clients website I do. This article has some interesting points like putting testimonial on landing pages which I will try immediately.
    In my personal experience I had some difficulty even getting to take on trial after mentioning free, so these points would help and I hope everyone who has issues with converting should give it a try and share you experience. thanks for a great share.

  22. Re: Test #9 – don’t mention it Neil ;)

  23. Sir,
    I always read your articles and try to shape my blog according to the tips you give :-)

    I’ve read almost all article at quciksprout :-D

    Keep Posting and help us grow ;-)

  24. I’m a big fan of your blog so I was super excited to see my landing page here! We have tested a bunch of headlines and that one just keeps winning even though it breaks so many rules – it doesn’t offer any real benefit or promise to the user.

    • Hi Laura. I think your headline does give an implicit benefit. We all get lots of emails that we delete immediately. So, a quote from someone saying yours is the only one she reads is a pretty strong recommendation.

      Interesting that you don’t attribute it. I’ve seen similar quotes in your emails attributed to someone in particular.

      And it still works, even though it’s unattributed.

      BTW, signed up for your newsletter.

    • That’s awesome. It really is a great one!

  25. Hi Neil, Great article with many great examples of how to improve an already “good headline” into a great one. We’ve used apologies in headlines, such as “Sorry… we ordered too much stock and now have to get rid of it” type of campaigns with reasonable effect also…

    I must say when I read “When Amazon, Viacom and NBC need more traffic to their website this is who they call”…. that’s why I first clicked!

  26. Hi Neil,..this is great information. I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to excel at call to action and this falls right in line with what I am learning. Thanks for sharing such useful information that anyone can use to improve their conversion rates.

  27. I think I’m the newest member on your mailing list and this information is spot on! I have been doing some amount of research on how to go about headline posts but this one really sums it up so well! Thank you so much for sharing :)

  28. So true, headline is a big factor that affects all. It’s important to make it catchy since it’s what readers are likely to see initially. It should catch their attention and make them interested, thanks for the additional tips! I’ll keep those in mind to improve my writings.

  29. Do you think #9 is Curiosity or is it implied testimonials?

    Listing name-brand companies who turn to you in a pinch is pretty strong supporting evidence.

  30. Good One Neil.I liked it.

  31. Hey Neil,

    Great post as usual – and it’s really cool that you managed to pull so many examples from so many different sites!

    I’ve done quite a bit of reading on headline A/B testing, and it seems most of these examples are more for single product/service oriented websites.

    How do you suggest one should apply headline testing to e-commerce websites that have 100s of products?

    Thanks!

  32. Great Post Man. I really your Fan.

  33. I heard words such as free are going to rank lower in Search Engines as well..!!

  34. I love your tips Neil! A must try!

  35. Hi Neil,
    Great post ! lot of information you gave after read your post i knw about KISS metrics its really useful for us neil. thanks for sharing keep up your good work doing

  36. Excellent post – one of the difficult parts of article writing is always the headline. I find it very annoying, but it’s important to come up with a punchy few words to make your article stand out. I did a few “free” articles recently and they did reasonably well. I think a lot of internet users will be wary of the concept of “free” on the WWW – it often leads to some dodgy deals. And viruses!

  37. Great list of examples, Neil.

    The headline “When Amazon, Viacom and NBC need more traffic to their website this is who they call” is purely awesome.

    It just isn’t just a curiosity headline, but a recognition headline as well. You are leveraging well known brands to grab peoples attention and trust.

  38. Thanks Neil for the most effective and important post about headline. All tests are very useful for every business.

  39. Neil your advertisement videos on youtube are very long.I skip it all the time.You should try for a 30 second video or less

  40. Mentioning “Free” in a headline always work because people are always looking for something free.

  41. I also want to say thanks for you because this is really good news for achievers. High converting headlines is a good process to change your opportunity.

  42. Great points here in this post. One idea that stood out for me was the sub-heading thing. But I have always heard that long copy sells better. Also explainer videos do a good job of communicating about the product or service.

    I recently signed up for a free trail of Kissmetrics and I found out that the page doesn’t have an explainer video nor a long copy. Any reasons for that?

    • Explainer videos don’t always work, nor does long copy. We tried both on KISSmetrics and it didn’t work for it… It all just depends on the business.

      You have to a/b test everything for each business, even if they are in the same space.

  43. Even controversial headlines work, like Ferrari Develops Diesel Engine is the headline and first line is – Dont worry, not for their cars, but for their sister concern Maserati ;-p

  44. Like I keep telling my students, “Don’t just blog; blog strategically. Don’t just have a Facebook page; use Facebook strategically!”

  45. #6 is an easy one to lose sight of, so thanks for highlighting it here!
    In pursuit of a unique and intriguing headline, we can sometimes veer into ambiguous, metaphoric territory that leaves our audience wondering what it is exactly that we offer. Sometimes, the simplest is the sweetest.

    Cheers
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  46. Once again Awesome post Neil :) Keep it up!

  47. you always have the best advice neil thanks!

  48. Great post Neil.

    However, I would like to suggest that for Test #9, it probably wasn’t solely due to curiosity that the test won.

    It was probably due to proof as well.

    What do I mean?

    Well, Amazon, Viacom and NBC are big names and suggesting that someone has helped them with traffic gives a lot of credibility to that person.

    Imagine substituting Amazon, Viacom and NBC with, say the coffee shop down your street. I’m guessing the results wouldn’t be ideal.

    I’ve found that pure curiosity headlines usually don’t work too well.

    Curiosity has to be combined with a benefit for the headline to work.

    And if proof can be added in as well, then the results are usually even better.

  49. Hi, really like all the different tests and there explanations. Great post!

  50. Knowing how to present your content is certainly as important as knowing what to say to your audience. Your article is an excellent example of incorporating layout and content flawlessly. Both marketing and advertising professionals can learn a thing or two here. Keep it up, Neil!

  51. Hi Neil… Its worth reading. Learn some good things from this article.

    Whether a blogger create great content, presentation of it matters. The way you have shown via images. I liked it very much. Cause Visualization teaches more than the text ;)

    Also now a Days I can see you on many blogs .. Enjoying your interviews on those blogs :)

    Thanks

  52. Nice Tips…”free” is one of the common word which is used by almost everyone,their are lots of others too…You just have to think about these things and you can perform very well….

  53. as usually : ] fanatic article

  54. Great post Neil.
    And I found that use the words “download”, or “latest update/recent news” (or years we are at), does increase clicks through.

  55. Neil,
    Great post about importance of headlines. How does one go about when addressing a two sided market. Do i get the headline to address both side of the market (becomes dilutive)?

    thanks,
    /jay

  56. As per my experience survey of your targeted customer is the best way to know their requirements. what do you say Neil?

  57. Neil you impressed me a lot, great post. I would like to use recommended changes for my websites.

    Big Thank.
    Jason

  58. This is a great post, I’ll definitely be using these ideas as well as having my swipe file next to me, every time I wrote a blog post

  59. Great job! I don’t have any words to wish you Neil..)

  60. Thanks Neil, for this great post.The most interesting feature you’ve flagged is the time based headlines.
    I’m still coming to grips with the headlines aspect as a newbie blogger.
    What i can never escape noticing is that you answer every body’s comments.No wonder you are adored across the blogverse so much.
    Thanks again.

  61. Wow, this info is helpful, not to mention, this whole article is great! Thank you.

  62. Those are some really great tips! I am impressed with all the real life a/b test samples you displayed. I keep a list of headline templates for my own writing reference and I think I really should start testing each of them.

  63. Wow. Your post is very interesting. I learn so much and I enjoy reading it.

  64. I always belief that writing a headline is a art. It’s very much important for advertisement or blogging, because its like a cover page of a book. Most of the people feel interested about the book if they see the cover & name are interesting. Thanks for the tips. :)

  65. Neil Interesting Post. I agree the headlines are most important factor for users attraction. Even in SEO page title has been given due importance by Google. I really like the article and shares in my Google+

  66. very Very Informative ARticle…

  67. I have been using a couple of these tactics and they really do make a huge differance! Headlines can make or break your post, very good information. Thanks!

  68. Really enjoyed this post, and agree with all you say here.

    If you don’t grab the attention with the headline, it’s unlikely your post will be read …. I learnt to my cost !

    A great read – thanks.

  69. I like number 1, 4 and 9 tips, thanks Neil

  70. Excellent post. I think we can use different words in title of the website to make it more attractive. we can use words like “Free” , “Cheap” to attract customers in our products. :)
    thanks for a great post.

  71. Hi Neil,

    You have an awesome blog and I read it almost everyday!
    In fact, I have been reading all your prev. posts since the entire day today– from work!

    I have had a writers block since a few days now. I go back today– all soaked and so much excited!

    A little missing ‘y’ that I spotted:
    ‘Highrise did a test in which the’Y’ added the phrase “free trial” in their headline and they boosted their conversion rate by 30%.

    Best,
    Gunika

  72. Hey Neil, “Use the word free” is really effective. I have also read your post related to the comparison between free trial and money back guarantee. The word free is really going to effect the business drastically.
    Thanks

  73. Neil tactics do change regularly, Im always surfing for new methods of web promotion and find that nothingever stays the same, hard work at times but if you keep at it thing do pay off in the end, nice post, keep it up mate

    Jason

  74. Great Article. it’s Really Helpful and Enjoyable Post for Every Blogger. Thank you very much for Sharing with us.

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