In this post, we’ll analyze how the information contained in your headline influences engagement. Based on Anyword’s platform data and a study performed by our team analyzing several different campaigns, we’ll show in-depth insights about how headline length, together with compelling informative content, help boost engagement and lower CPC.

In the ever-expanding digital landscape in which we live today, publishers only have a few seconds to grab the attention of a user. This means that we need tried-and-true tactics to get someone to stop scrolling. With such a short window of opportunity for conversion, it’s important to be clear and direct about your ad or offer.

And this all starts with the headline.

On a landing page, there’s more flexibility to write a headline that favors wit over context and explanation. That being said, a headline that works for the landing page may not be the best choice for the corresponding social ad. Since the top of the sales funnel starts in the feed, a straightforward and direct headline can be a better option over a more editorial-style ad headline. Context and clarity are key for your user to be able to understand what it is you are promoting or selling, but context and clarity can also mean adding more words to your copy.

Less Might Not Always Be More

While marketers and ad copywriters often hear that less is more when it comes to ad copy, that’s not always the case. According to our data, for most Facebook ads, the sweet spot for the ad headline is somewhere between five and eight words. However, what information that is conveyed in these words really matters, which is why headline length alone isn’t a simple better or worse factor. That being said, there’s a case to be made for longer headlines.

Longer Ad Headlines in Practice

But don’t just take our word for it — let’s take a look at a few examples. Our creative team analyzed different styles of headlines: shorter and/or stylized versus longer and more contextual. The analysis, looking at a data set of about 60 pieces of content, spanned across several different campaigns, covering a wide variety of topics and use cases. Here, we’ll dive into some of the general insights our team was able to gather. In a campaign optimized for lead generation, the headline with more context saw a slight boost in conversion rate.

While “The pandemic itch” is intriguing and creative, it lacks clarity and doesn’t give the reader any inWhile “The pandemic itch” is intriguing and creative, it lacks clarity and doesn’t give the reader any indication as to what the story is about. In addition to generating higher conversion rates, we saw lower CPCs with a headline that gives the audience more specific context about the content, compared to its more editorial counterpart. While the editorial style does feel more evocative, it doesn’t quite reflect the information content in the promoted content.

Specifically, in this example above, we were able to snag a 26% lower CPC with the more contextual headline compared to the more stylized “Vaccine dreams juice jobs report.”

Now Here Comes that Gray Area

It is possible to make your headline too long. Social platforms, specifically Facebook, only allow you to work with a certain amount of characters before your ad headlines get cut off. But Facebook character limits aside, it’s also possible to lose your user’s interest before they even finish reading your headline. This is what we want to avoid.

So how long is too long? See this example below.

ad headlines

Both headlines air on the more informative side of things, but the first one gets to the point quicker and doesn’t have unnecessary information. The second, in contrast, doesn’t have as strong of a pull or point for the reader (plus, it takes a lot more words to get there). And the difference in generated leads speaks for itself.

And sometimes it isn’t even necessarily about the length of your headline, but the context it provides. Informative headlines don’t always have to be long. It’s possible to provide your reader with all the information they need to know in just a few words. For example, when looking at the headlines below, we can see that the first one gives very succinct context that’s easy to understand in just a few seconds. Comparatively, the second headline almost requires some previous knowledge on what the “Great Resignation” could be referring to. And the difference? A 13% lower CPC.

ad headlines

The bottom line is that your user should be able to read and understand your headline in 10 seconds or less. Now, there is a tradeoff between keeping your headline readable and providing as much context as possible, but there are a few more best practices that can help you optimize headlines beyond their length.

What Else to Keep in Mind for Your Ad Headlines

While context and length are important, a lot more can go into the success of your headlines (and content overall.) Here are some additional headline best practices to keep in mind:

Include important keywords.

This works especially well when promoting Google Search ads, but it’s also good to include for other social platforms as well. Keep user search intent in mind and make it clear what it is you are advertising.

Use numbers to your advantage.

Listicles are one of the most effective headline formulas used on digital platforms. How effective? In another test run by our creative team, we found that 70% of listicle articles tested saw an increase in CTR — just by adding in a number to the headline or ad copy.

Use clear, direct language.

There’s a time and place for witty, clever copywriting — but in your headline might not be it. When going to craft an effective headline, it’s best to use verbiage that anyone (and we mean anyone) could understand.

Anyword: Your In-House Headline Expert

Long headlines. Short headlines. No context. Information overload. There are hundreds of different routes to take when writing headlines. And while we can say that longer, more informative headlines have been proven to boost performance significantly, there are cases where other styles can work as well. It takes a lot of guesswork.

And that’s where Anyword can help.

Anyword’s AI platform focuses on the power of data-driven copywriting, based on the analysis of about $250 million dollars’ worth of advertising spots. Anyword not only builds copy in your specific tone and style, but also provides you with a Predictive Performance Score to give you an idea of that copy’s conversion potential. This means you can spend less time testing what works and what doesn’t and more time reaping the benefits of effective copy (the first time around). For more details on how to create a quality ad, check out our explainer here.

Don’t let another day go to waste with copy that doesn’t convert. Start testing the waters with a free, 7-day trial with Anyword.

Get Started with Anyword!

Transform the way you do business with our AI writing tool. Sign up for free and explore our powerful tools.