2017-03-29T17:27:08-04:00January 8th, 2013/Copywriting/By /

Copywriting: The 7 Secrets of Writing Super Profitable Headlines

I’ve written and tested thousands of headlines these past years. Overtime I noticed patterns that made some ads more profitable than others, and I noticed that these patterns were consistent across different niches. For example, the concepts of what worked for a weight loss ad could work for an ad selling insurance.

Keep in mind the headlines I’m talking about are ads for paid searches such as Facebook, Mediabuys, Adwords, etc. Often times they have character limits of 25 so we need to make maximum impact in a small space. I’m just focusing on headlines for this article so we can understand them deeper. Don’t neglect to improve the other components such as images, ad description, and call to actions.

What Makes a Good Headline?

I don’t write headlines trying to be witty or creative. My goal isn’t the same as someone working on a slogan for Coca-Cola. I’m spending my own money on these ads and I’m looking to profit with them. The goal is to get a higher CTR (click through rate) and a higher CR% (conversion rate).

How to Test Your Headlines

Before I get into writing headlines, you need to track your ads individually using a tracking software. For the web I use CPVLabs. It’s probably the #1 mistake new marketers make. They just judge the effectiveness of an ad by it’s CTR%. You could have an ad with an amazing CTR, but you’re wasting $ if it doesn’t convert. Tracking lets you know if Ad A spent $100, but generated $39, you should cut it even though the CTR is great.

CPVLabs has a token “&keyword=EDIT”. From there I’ll just name the ad something like GroupA_ad1. It lets me identify the ad without giving away too much information in the tracking link.

Also make sure the ads are set to rotate evenly. Some traffic sources have options where they optimize for you, and often times they will pick the winner before you have enough data (Statistical significance, use Splittester.com)

Second thing I want to mention is you need to continuously keep the component of the ads the same. If you’re testing headlines, then keep the images, ad description, & everything else the same. Think of your ads like a science experiment (Independent / dependent variables).

Headline Writing Strategies

#1 Call the User Out

Lets imagine Charles Ngo is surfing the internet.

I’ve been online for 15 years so it’s really hard for an online ad to capture my attention. What if the user mentioned something specific about me? Like “HEY SEXY ASIAN GUY”. I’m going to pay attention because it’s targeted towards me.

Think about the targeting options the traffic sources offer. Can you segment the audience by groups and make ads especially for them?


  • Facebook – This is a campaign I made a lot of money with 5 years ago on Facebook. I made different groups by age and I made ads especially for them. I think it was some kind of survey offer. “19 and need extra cash?” “Job Offer for 17 Yrs Old” Facebook doesn’t allow you to call them out by their age anymore, but there’s still a lot of ways to get creative. Call out their university, their city, their interests, etc.
  • Mobile – Mobile opens up a slew of targeting options. One of the easiest ways to have high CTR ads is to segment ads by their carrier and call them out.Ex.  “Claim (6) Ringtones For Your Phone” vs. “Claim (6) ringtones for T-Mobile Users”. I guarantee you the one that says T-Mobile users will perform better.
  • PPV – We target people by their sites that they visit. How about a popup with a headline “Special Offer for Visitors of Purses.com

The average internet user is subjected to hundreds of ads a day. Call them out to make them feel special and get their attention.

#2: Power Words

If you’re limited to (25) characters in your headline, then you wanna make maximum impact. Power words are words I like to include because they cause strong emotions. Some examples include:

  • Warning
  • Shortcuts
  • Exposed
  • Shocking
  • Proven
  • Killer
  • Secrets
  • Free
  • etc.

If your ad says “Scam Warning”, people are going to look at it to make sure it doesn’t affect them. Secrets? Everyone wants to know a secret. The article you’re reading now has “Secrets” in the headline and you clicked it.

sixpackshortcutsgarbageHe used two power words in his headline. Mike Chang

#3: Compare Your Product

This is an old school technique that we’ve all seen before. Samsung compares their phones to iPhones. Grocery stores compare their sodas to Coke. If you’re a new band, then it’s easy for people to understand you if you compare yourself to an existing band. (Please quit now if your band compares itself to Nickleback)

Promote a Gaming Offer

  • “Like FarmVille? This is better”
  • “This Game Pwns Call of Duty”

Selling an Acne Cream?

  • “5x More Effective than Proactiv”
  • “Better, and Safer than Accutane”

university-acnePushing adult dating?

  • “Meet girls faster than Craigslist”

#4 Be Specific

Being specific makes it seem more genuine. Just make sure you have a lawyer look things over so they’re compliant.

  • Save Money on Your Auto Insurance vs. Save $100/month on Your Auto Insurance
  • Be Thinner vs. Lose 20 lbs in 2 weeks
  • Make Money Working at Home vs. Make $79.88 / hr at home

#5 Ask a Question

Asking a question makes the viewer think about the question, and they’re one click away from the solution (your product)

  • Tired of Being Fat?
  • Want to Work 4 Hours a Week?
  • Want to Save 15% or more on Your Auto Insurance?

#6 Modeling

Modeling means learning and analyzing what works for others. If an ad is everywhere, I’ll test out the headlines vs. my own to see how it does. I’ll also break down their headline and try to figure out what is it that makes it good.

Don’t limit yourself to copying your competition because you’re only playing catchup. If 10 people are running the exact same ad, the audience gets “banner blindness” and everyone loses. It pays to be innovative and take risks.

When I wanted to study writing headlines, I went to the local Barnes & Nobles every week. I looked at the magazine covers for inspiration. I figure these guys have professional copywriters working on their stuff.


#7 Speak Like the User

Know your audience and relate to them by speaking like they do.

  • When I did gaming offers years back targeting young guys, I remember testing out headlines like “Wanna pwn noobs?”
  • If your audience is young & black, you probably want to use more slang.
  • Gay guys have their own lingo
  • Even though the British speak English, some of the words they use are different.

Learning How to Write Better Headlines

Track – Use CPVLabs
Study / Analyze – How do I know what works? I’ve read 20+ books on copywriting alone. I sit back and analyze what works for me and what works for others. I don’t just study what other affiliate marketers use. What headlines are Geico using? What headlines is TruthAboutAbs using? They are buying ads on the internet from the same places I am. They are my competition too.
Test – The only way to improve practice. If your competition is testing 5 ads, test 25. 

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