Let me preface this article by stating that nowadays headlines are everywhere.

What is a headline? That part of your text, article, promotional offer, email […] meant to get your customer’s attention.

As an example, take a second to reflect on how many ads you see while surfing the Internet. Google AdWords has conquered the marketplace: it provides results far more quickly than SEO and provides a perfect boost for start-ups and new businesses.

There are too many advertisements competing for your attention, and the same is true for your potential customers. As such, we need to leverage our headline.

Not every AdWords ad is well written. Indeed, there are numerous tips and pieces of advice that would make a great deal of AdWords ads better.

First of all, let’s review AdWords’ rules.
AdWords imposes a maximum of:

  • 25 characters for the Headline;
  • 70 characters of Ad Text;
  • 35 characters for the Display URL.

I won’t go into detail on best practices for AdWords at this time (I’m preparing a freaking awesome FREE eBook though, so stay tuned).
In this article, I’ll explain how old copywriting techniques may turn out to be useful when it comes to writing AdWords ads.

If you can come up with a good headline, you are almost sure to have a good ad, but even the greatest writer can’t save an ad with a poor headline

  • John Caples, How to Make Your Advertising Make Money

Once, a certain David Ogilvy wrote that putting a new headline on an existing ad increased the selling power of the ad tenfold.

It seems that the “first Impression” does matter.
But remember that you are writing as a salesman, not as a creative.

This point is so crucial in Digital Marketing.

A lot of “salesmen” tend to forget that they’re writing to sell, not to entertain or impress.

I see salesmen that literally avoid certain words because other copywriters use them with such frequency. Man, they use those words because they work. Period.

What are those words?
FREE is one of the most powerful words in terms of grabbing customers’ attention. It gets attention regardless of the situation. Everybody loves free.

The problem is that you shouldn’t overuse it: write the word “free” in your headline only when you’re actually offering some value for free.

Don’t try to cheat your customers – they won’t forgive your betrayal (how harsh does this sound? Like it).

I know the words that are floating across your mind: “I’ve been thinking that free is a powerful world when it comes to headlines. But I’m trying to sell my products, I won’t give them anything for free!”

Valid point.

That’s why I’ve gathered a few more functional words that will give a boost to your AdWords ad’s headline.

These words are:

  • Sale;
  • Quick;
  • Easy;
  • Bargain;
  • Last Chance;
  • Guarantee;
  • Instantly;
  • Huge;
  • Results;
  • Proven.

You read these words in the AdWords ads that pop up in your browser’s tab every day. How many times do you click on them? Does it happen often or rarely?

When you see an AdWords ad, you unconsciously make a quick decision. This decision, which usually takes a couple of seconds, is responsible for you clicking on the AdWords ad or continuing to scour the web.

So, we have to hack this decision process.

Given the proliferation of AdWords ads and promotional banners, how can we convince our prospect that our AdWords ad is worthy of attention?

A few years ago, Michael Masterson developed the four U’s formula. I find it particularly useful when it comes to writing headlines for AdWords ads. The four U’s formula states that strong headlines should be:

  1. URGENT: Sooner is better than later.

Your AdWords ad’s headline has to give your prospect a reason to act now instead of afterwards. The trick to create a sense of urgency in your headline is incorporating a time element.

Let’s take an example:

Start Earning Money While Travelling

Start Earning Money While Travelling From Today

They seem quite similar, but the former is way weaker than the latter. Don’t forget to include a time element.

Another way to create a sense of urgency with your AdWords ad is by adopting a Time-Limited Special Offer (such as a discount or premium if you order by a certain date).

  1. UNIQUE: A powerful AdWords ad headline has to either say something new, or say it in a new and fresh way.
    No prospect will click over to an already seen AdWords Ad, so be creative (in this circumstance, you can). Adopt a unique writing style.

Direct examples:

Best Face Cream Ever, Buy It Now
Wanna Get Hollywood Stars’ Face Cream Now?”

Do you see the difference? Banal vs original, this is the point.

  1. ULTRA-SPECIFIC: The more specific your AdWords ad’s headline is, the more mesmerizing it will be. Attention: it will be more mesmerizing for the right audience.

That’s why being ultra-specific in so important – it’s your means to reach the right audience.

Quick example:

If you have to ask how many miles to the gallon it gets, you can’t afford to buy one.

This is a very popular headline taken from one of the most influential copywriting books I’ve ever read: The Copywriter’s Handbook (Affiliation).

That headline would be nice to promote sports cars.

It is ultra-specific because it cuts off a huge slice of audience, and does it in a unique way.

  1. USEFUL: A strong AdWords ad headline appeals to the reader’s self-interest by offering a benefit. This benefit could be a promotional offer, a discount, a free webinar, an eBook, etc.

Keep in mind that the Four U’s Formula has been created to help copywriters with also writing newspaper headlines.

Let’s say that if you’re writing to sell your items, this point is still valid as long as you offer discounts or promotional offers as benefits.


That’s it.
From now on, don’t forget to check out your AdWords ads’ headlines before publishing them.
This checklist will help you to get the best out of your ads:

–   Does it create a sense of urgency?

  • Have I already read something similar to my AdWords ad headline?
  • Is it specific, or may it seem interesting for everyone?
  • Does it provide any benefit?

These case studies will provide you with a full list of great examples. Don’t miss this opportunity.

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