May 4, 2010

Testing & Tweaking Headlines for Maximum Results

Posted by 2Checkout

Karon Thackston

Writing headlines can be a traumatic experience for some people. Even those with a good amount of expertise with writing copy can struggle with this all-important element. It only makes sense that – once the headline has been decided on – you would leave it alone at all costs. Unfortunately, that’s not the best strategy if you want to ensure conversions are at their highest.

Your headline is the most-read component of your copy. It has an enormous impact on sales. Just because you’ve found one that works pretty well doesn’t mean there aren’t several others that pull even better results. This is why it’s important to test and tweak every headline on your website.

If you sell an ebook, you might have a primary headline (at the top of the page) and a few sub-headlines that are scattered throughout the copy. If you operate an ecommerce website, you’ll likely have dozens from the main headline on your home page to each of the headlines on every one of your product pages. They all should be tested regularly. PPC ads? You bet! Those headlines should have their turn at improvement as well.

Which One’s Best?

Anne Holland’s clever website, Which Test Won?, offers proof that testing and tweaking can make a huge difference. There are a couple of tests on headlines you can view including one that improved conversion rate of a lead generation form by 143%.

The point is, you wouldn’t know which of these headlines was the best until you tweaked your current copy and then tested the results. You could be happy as a clam with a 3.5% conversion rate, thinking you were well above the 1%–2% average, when in all actuality you could be realizing gains that are 20%, 50% or even over 100% greater.

Take it Slow

How do you test headlines? Unless you are well versed with multivariant testing, you need to only change one headline per page at a time. If you make too many changes on the same page simultaneously, you’ll have no way of knowing which change caused the increase/decrease in sales.

I recommend Google’s Website Optimizer. It’s free; it’s easy to use, and it is reliable.

What Do I Change?

Take a look around your site and plunder through your website statistics/analytics for ideas. Perhaps you’re only using one take on a particular product. For instance, if your website sells professional dinnerware to restaurants, you may be focusing your headlines and copy strictly on price. However, for upscale restaurants, quality or appearance may be more important factors. You could test headlines that bring out these features/benefits.

You could also test headlines using different:

  • Keyphrases – Sometimes site visitors connect more with headlines that use the precise keyphrase they were searching for.
  • Numbers – Switch up using “50% Off” with “Half Off” or “Fifty Percent Off.” Formatting numbers in different ways can produce significant increases.
  • Target Segments – A laptop computer sales page might test mentioning business users, students or senior citizens in the headline.

It’s well worth your time to set up a testing schedule for the headlines on your website. You’ll be amazed at how much you will learn and what phenomenal improvements you can experience with very little effort.

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