headlines

The Complete Guide for Testing Your Headlines In 2020

Websites have tons of elements you can test. Some elements will have very little impact on your ability to persuade and convert your site visitors. Others will have a dramatic effect. Of course, you’d like to know which elements rank among the most influential when it comes to your bottom line.

When we created our example test for Google’s nifty (and free) online testing tool, we chose a headline. When it comes to the persuasive copy you create for your website you understand which elements have the biggest effect on your conversion rates and how to test them using a simple A/B (or split) test: we now have a guide for retailers and one for lead generation.

Also READ: How to Increase Blog Traffic

Why are headlines so important? They are among the very first elements of your persuasive process with which visitors actively engage. Readers of your pages use headlines and sub-headlines (headers and sub-headers) to understand the content on a page and decide if they want to read more of your copy. Headlines aid in the visual task of scanning and skimming helps your visitors to organize the information you present. Worded appropriately, they encourage your visitors to get deeper into your persuasive copy.

How do you go about creating highly persuasive headlines? What sorts of things about headlines can you test? These are the same questions the Google folks asked us. So, for our documentation, I created a list of ways you can test your headlines. Below is an excerpt of the top ten, with examples.

1. Test fractions or percentages to prove your claim

Nine out of ten children in Sub-Saharan Africa have HIV

90% of the children in Sub-Saharan Africa have HIV

9/10 of the children in Sub-Saharan Africa have HIV

2. Test asking questions in the headline (make sure you directly answer the question after the headline)

Make a difference in the life of a child

Do you want to make a difference in the life of a child?

Can you see the difference in the life of a child?

Will you make a difference in the life of a child?

3. Test using emotional-laden words

Bring comfort and solace to the life of a poverty-stricken child

4. Test different types of formatting: bolding, fonts, colors, capitalization, sizes

Make a Difference in the Life of a Child

Make a difference in the life of a child

Make a difference in the life of a child

MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF A CHILD

MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF A CHILD

5. Test the number of words used in the headline

Make a difference in the life of a child

Make a difference in a child’s life

6. Test using exclamation points

Make a difference in the life of a child

Make a difference in the life of a child!

7. Test using text to convey the benefits versus the features of your products or services

Your donations help us make a difference

Your donations bring medicine to the needy and support research

Your donations go directly to the front lines in the global war against AIDS

8. Test self-focused (we/I) versus customer-focused text (you)

We help make a difference in the life of a child

You can help make a difference in the life of a child

9. Test using quotations in the headline (consider the length of the headline)

President Bush has committed to making a difference

President Bush has committed “to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations”

10. Test the reading level of the headline

Few receive pediatric antiretroviral treatment (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level = 12)

Few get appropriate medical help (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level = 9.9)

Few get the medicine they need (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level = 2.4)

Writing good headlines is an art. It takes time, practice, patience. It also takes knowing what works best for your audience (which is not always what you think will work best for them). When you test your headlines, you’ll be able to add knowledge of your audience to your copywriting equation. And that’s when your Headline¬†will be at their persuasive best!