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How to write compelling ad headlines for creative testing

17 fill-in-the-blank formulas to help you write a big batch of headlines for your next multivariate creative test.
Jess Cook

I have always loved coming up with a great headline. There's just something thrilling about exploring every angle and emotion attached to a brand and putting it into as few words as possible. Even better is when my headlines work — enticing people to take action and feel something for a brand.

Still, there are always times when you wondered if you picked the right one. Could another headline have performed even better?

Today, finding that winning headline is easier than ever. Automated multivariate testing lets you pit tens or hundreds of versions of your ad creative against one another, and is the best way to determine which ads — and individual creative elements, like headlines — have the highest conversion rates.

Multivariate testing lets you test at scale and requires creating a larger number of ads than you would for a typical A/B test. It's smart to have a variety of creative assets and a modular ad design prepped before you begin.

To help you come up with a bunch of headline variants for your next multivariate test, I put together 17 fill-in-the-blanks formulas you can use for just about any product or service. The goal is to help you come up with as many headlines as you can, fast, as quick iteration is key to creative testing at scale.

To show how versatile these prompts are, I’ve provided three headline examples for each formula, inspired by completely different products:

  • Gatorade Gx sweat patches
  • Warby Parker eyewear
  • Marpipe multivariate creative testing (that’s us!)

Let’s dig in.

Solution-focused headline prompts

Ad headlines written with these prompts present your audience with an ideal state of being that your product or service can help them achieve. When using these formulas, think about what intangibles your product or service offers potential customers.

[Outcome] with [process].

Beat your own personal best with stick-on sweat analysis.

Find your perfect pair with virtual try-on.

Build smarter ads with automated testing at scale.

 

[Verb] [ideal state] without [pain point]

Get a personalized fuel plan without a personal trainer.

Try on hundreds of frames without an appointment.

Test 10x more ads without killing your creatives.

 

[Feature] for [ideal state].

Science-backed fueling plans for better performance.

At-home try-on for a modern shopping experience.

Granular creative data for building top-performing ads.

 

How you [verb] matters.

How you hydrate matters.

How you find your perfect pair matters.

How you test your ad creative matters.

 

You can’t [ideal state] without [unique feature].

You can’t hydrate right without knowing how you sweat.

You can’t find glasses from your couch without virtual-try on.

You can’t build your best ad without deep creative data.

 

The [comparative adjective] way to [process/activity].

The most advanced way to customize your hydration.

The modern way to shop for eyeglasses.

The smarter way to find winning ads.

 

Don’t just [traditional state]. [Ideal state].

Don’t just hydrate. Get a science-backed fueling plan.

Don’t just shop for glasses. Buy eyewear that makes you happy.

Don’t just follow best practices. Find your own.

 

[Verb] your way to [ideal state].

Sweat your way to a personal hydration plan.

Selfie your way to the perfect frames.

Test your way to top ad performance.

 

[Ideal state] start(s) here.

Personalized hydration starts here.

Finding your perfect frames starts here.

Conversion-driving ad creative starts here.

 

Audience-focused headline prompts

These headline formulas help you reference the audience you’re attempting to target, in hopes that they’ll think, “Hey, that’s me they’re talking about!” Speaking to potential customers as if you are one of them helps align your brand with their lifestyle and values, and shows that you truly understand them.

Join [niche community]

Join everyday athletes learning to hydrate like pros.

Join the millions who found their perfect pair from home.

Join the most innovative advertisers in the game.

 

By [audience] for [audience].

By the sweat obsessed for the sweat obsessed.

By frame lovers for frame lovers.

By ad nerds for ad nerds.

 

[Adjective] [product] made for [audience descriptor].

Single-use sweat patch made for performance-minded athletes.

Modern frames made for smart eyewear shoppers.

Automated creative testing made for data-driven marketers.

 

Product- and service-focused headline prompts

These ad copy prompts highlight the main attributes and benefits of your product or service. Focus on what makes your offering unique to differentiate yourself from the competition.

[Claim] [product type]

The first-ever sweat-analyzing patch

Our #1 selling frame

The only multivariate testing platform for ad creative

 

[Adjective + noun]. [Resulting adjective + noun].

Little patch. Big gains.

Great-looking frames. More money in your pocket.

Automated creative testing. Deep creative insights.

 

[Verb] [Value] [Urgency]

Get our most advanced fueling tool today.

Find your perfect pair now.

Get deep creative insights before the competition.

 

[Noun] meets [noun]. 

Sweat meets science.

Great frames meet great prices.

Ad creative meets modern creative testing.

 

[Adjective] [noun]. [Adjective] [noun]. [Adjective] [noun].

Smart patch. Personal hydration plans. Big results.

Modern frames. Virtual try-on. Lower prices.

Better creative data. Smarter ads. More conversions.

 

Get your free template and start writing.

So you can quickly generate new headlines for testing whenever you need them, I dropped all of these prompts into a template for you. All you have to do is make a copy, fill in the blanks, and see which headlines emerge from your test victorious.

Copy doc template for ad headline formulas
Get your free copy

Of course, there’s no way to be certain that any of these headlines will be big winners. But the greater the number of variations tested, the more likely you are to find a winner. You can call on these ad copy formulas to write ten to fifteen headlines in just a few minutes — more than enough for a full-scale multivariate test.

As an added bonus, these formulas will help you learn how to "frame" your message multiple ways using action verbs, ideal states, and emotional language. They can be used again and again to test different messages around certain pain points, product benefits, and more.

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How to Run a Multivariate Test

The Beginner's Guide

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How to Run a Multivariate Test
The Beginner's Guide

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