In his book Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business, search engine optimization and online marketing expert consultant Ted Prodromou explains how you can use LinkedIn to quickly engage with ideal customers, partners, and employees, showcase your company and attract new opportunities. In this edited excerpt, the author reveals five factors that can help you write compelling online ads as well as three tips for creating great headlines.
We’ve all seen ads that grab our attention. But we’ve also seen ads that leave us speechless, wondering what the heck the advertiser was trying to accomplish. So how can you create text and banner ads on LinkedIn that attract your target audience? It starts with writing effective headlines.
The key to writing successful online ads is to put yourself in the shoes of the person who’s reading your ad. Imagine how they’re feeling. Feel their pain points. Understand why they’re frustrated. Once you get into their heads, you can write ads that will grab their attention instantly and make them feel comfortable with you and your products.
Great ads are more than just words. Great ads tell a story or create an unforgettable experience and make you have to read more, not just want to read more. The following five factors can make your ads more clickable.
We’re curious by nature and want to learn more about subjects that interest us. If you start your headline with phrases like “How I …” or “How do I …” the reader will be curious and want to read the entire headline. You can also use contradiction in your headline to confuse the reader so you’ll grab their attention. Here are some sample headlines that use curiosity to grab attention:
- “How I turned my business around in the worst economy ever …”
- “How do I get top search rankings in Google for my business without spending a fortune?”
- “Social Media is NOT your only way to get web traffic”
By providing a clear benefit in your headline, people will click on your ad to find out how they can benefit from what you are offering. You are implying that they will learn something new that may give them a competitive advantage. Some examples of benefit-driven headlines include:
- “Three Easy Ways to Increase Your Clickthrough Rate by at least 40 Percent”
- “How to Convert More Web Visitors into Raving Customers”
- “How to Work Less and Earn More”
People respond to certain words, especially when they trigger an emotion. The right words will make people click on your ads and take actions. If you watch infomercials, you’ll hear and see a steady stream of emotion-triggering words like amazing, incredible, superb, excellent, free, and on and on. You may hear them say something like “This amazing formula will help you feel superb, look incredible, and make you completely irresistible.” Who wouldn’t buy that product? Here are some examples of emotional headlines:
- “Eight Incredibly Simple Ways to Increase Sales by at Least 25 Percent”
- “Ten Free Social Media Tips That Will Generate More Incredible Comments on Your Blogs”
- “Easily Learn a New Language in Just 20 Minutes a Day!”
Most people like concrete or tangible ideas because they’re familiar and make sense to them. When you hear “1 + 1 = 2,” that’s tangible to you because you know it’s true. When you hear “How large is space?” you don’t feel comfortable because there’s no definitive answer. Including familiar experts is an easy way to make your headline tangible and credible. Some examples of tangible headlines include:
- “Warren Buffett Shows You How to Invest Your Money Wisely”
- “Donald Trump Shares His Deepest Real Estate Investing Secrets”
- “How to Start a Social Network by Mark Zuckerberg”
It’s important to set reasonable expectations in your ad and not overpromise. You can’t promise someone that you can get them top rankings in Google for all their target keywords or guarantee they’ll lose at least 20 pounds with your home exercise program unless you can really give them those results. It’s just not realistic to promise results you know everyone won’t achieve, and it’s illegal to make promises you can’t guarantee. You need to provide exactly what you’re promising in the headline. If you promise a white paper showing seven steps, then you have to provide all seven steps in the white paper—not just one step and then coax the reader into purchasing the next six. Here are some reasonable expectation-based ads:
- “Voted Best Restaurant in San Francisco Five Years in a Row by Sunset Magazine”
- “Seven Steps to Setting Up Your WordPress Blog”
- “Learn How to Recruit the Best Employees on LinkedIn”
So how do you create attention-grabbing headlines that convert like crazy? Here are a few techniques to help you get started.
1. Brainstorming headlines. Top copywriters teach you to sit down with a blank pad of paper and start writing headlines until you run out of ideas. Just put your pen on the paper and write every word that comes to mind. Don’t stop until you’ve written at least 30 headlines. Most of them will be horrible, but by doing a complete brain dump, you’ll come up with a few good ones to test.
2. The old magazine rack trick. Another great way to get ideas for headlines is to go to your nearest bookstore or grocery store and check out the magazines. Write down the headlines and article summaries that grab your attention, and use similar wording to create compelling headlines for your LinkedIn ads.
3. Create a swipe file. All copywriters create what’s known as a “swipe file” where they save articles, magazine headlines, newspaper headlines, and junk mail. Create a file folder where you save headlines and articles that caught your attention. When you’re ready to write new ads, pull out the swipe file for your niche and read through the clippings you’ve collected. After you read through all the clippings, do the brainstorming exercise I explained earlier. Your brain is full of ideas from reviewing your clippings, so you should be able to crank out 30 to 50 headlines in a few minutes.