Ah, the headline. It’s one of your biggest opportunities to convert casual website visitors into paying customers. And your biggest risk for losing leads.
Hence all the formulas for crafting the perfect headline. Google “how to write a good landing page headline” and you’ll get hundreds of pro tips. Appeal to emotions. Use low-competition keywords. Add numbers. Make a compelling promise. Be offbeat.
Such guidelines can be valuable…if you have a lot of money (and countless hours) to invest in copywriting, SEO, and other areas of headline-writing expertise. Or you can use another approach to take the mystery out of optimizing headlines so they’ll convert like crazy—one that won’t kill your budget or require expensive tools.
What is this technique?
Test and refine the headlines you’ve already got.
This type of conversion rate optimization can be very profitable. It starts with a quick analysis of your existing landing page headlines. How are they performing? Do they entice visitors to click deeper into your site? Fill out your form? Purchase a product? A quick look at the page’s current conversion rates will let you know how well your headlines are doing their job.
Then change ‘em up and test ‘em out. Every landing page has a number of headlines to test:
- The web page’s title tag
- The main headline
- Secondary headlines (often referred to as “subheads”)
Even your form headers and image captions—the most-read copy on most webpages—serve as critical headlines.
Where to Start
Every headline has a job to do. A good primary headline will convince visitors to move on to the subhead. Then read a sentence. Then take in a few bullet points. And so on until they make it all the way to your call to action and click your “submit” button or make a purchase.
Keeping a few basics in mind will help make that happen:
- Don’t try to appeal to everyone. You can’t. Identify your target market for the page and make slight headline variations designed to speak to that one audience.
- Forget keywords. At least at first. The goal is to come up with headlines that convert—not keyword-stuffed headings that confuse and won’t get clicks.
- Prioritize clarity over creativity. Most people will skim your headlines in a matter of seconds. Use simple words they can comprehend in an instant.
- Offer benefits. Your readers want to know what you offer them. Replace “we” and “our” with “you” and “your” wherever possible.
What to Test
Start with one element at a time so you can see exactly what’s working. And don’t be afraid to sweat the small stuff. For example, you might start by trying out different:
- Benefits (i.e. “free shipping” versus “20% off”)
- Adjectives (i.e. try “best” instead of “most”)
- Verbs (i.e. “get” instead of “download”)
- Numbers (i.e. “top 10” rather than “9 reasons”)
How to Test
For headline optimization to work, you’ll need a way to see exactly what moves the needle. There are two primary ways to do this depending on your budget and how much time you have:
- Use a free tool like a website title testing plugin or Google Analytics’ Content Experiments feature
- Use a paid service such as Unbounce or Visual Website Optimizer
How to Know if It’s Working
Revisit your benchmarks with each headline tweak. Is your conversion rate improving? You’ve got a winning formula! Is it stagnant or decreasing? Time to try something else.
It’s that simple. And it’ll help you wind up with headlines that are right on the money.
The perfect landing page relies on great headlines. What are some of your favorite budget-friendly tweaks and tests to get them right? Share them in the comments!