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Construct Better Headlines with Facebook Ad Tests

Published: March 27, 2013

Author: Franco Puetz

There are a number of generic articles that tell you basic, broad-stroke techniques of how to write a stellar headline. I’m a fan of using data to back up my assumptions.  A key ingredient missing from these generic guides is whether or not this headline will resonate with your target audience.
Facebook ads are a great, simple, low-cost way to test and construct powerful headlines that work.
In this instance, we’ll talk about Facebook ads that link to company blog articles. I use the data generated by the ads to construct the display headline that will be used in the future promotion of my article.
Step 1: 
This may sound backwards, but I like to publish the article first. Using Facebook ads to test your headlines will send a lot of relevant traffic to your article in the process. (If you would rather not use this method, you can still test the ad headlines and send users to your homepage instead.)
Step 2: 
You will want to set up two very similar posts on your Facebook page where the only variable is the headline text itself. Post the link to your blog article on your page – make sure you do not hit Post at this step.
Facebook will auto-populate your social meta tags. If you would like a deeper explanation on these Open Graph tags, you can reference an article Neil Patel wrote on the topic here.  Here is an example:
headline test page post
If you click on the text that auto-populates on the tag generated by Facebook, you will quickly find that these are customizable (the meta description below the headline can also be edited in the same manner):
customized title page post ad
After you plug in the headline you wish to use, click the clock image in the lower left hand corner.  I usually like to backdate my posts by a year or so and hide them from the newsfeed so my followers are not annoyed by me posting essentially the same article twice.
backdate page post
Finally, go ahead and remove the original URL you posted (in this instance, http://www.francopuetz.com/selling-your-ads/), as the tag that gets auto-populated by Facebook will still be saved.  Now you can go ahead and click Post.
Repeat this process for each headline you wish to test.
Step 3:
Now we can jump into the creation of our ad campaigns – this is done easily with Facebook’s Power Editor. Use Power Editor to make two separate campaigns.  We will be creating just one ad per campaign to ensure they get an equal amount of exposure. Set your campaigns up with a small lifetime budget, and a designated start and end time.
Build an ad For a Facebook Page using a Page post, and include the desired targeting parameters for your ad, which would ideally be the same target audience you would like to read your content.  When it asks you which page post you will be promoting, use the Enter Post ID option.
Here is how you find your page post ID:
page post ad
Locate the post you created earlier on your page.  Click the date that shows up under page name.  When your post opens up in a new window, find the number affixed to the end of the URL – this is your page post ID:
page post ad id
Once your ads are crafted to your liking, upload the changes and check back after their designated run time.
Step 4:
Recording your findings is the most important part of the process.  The main metric that I measure when running these tests is the Click-Through Rate (CTR) generated by your ads – the higher the CTR, the more clickable your headline is.  When you finally promote your content to your target audience, be sure to use the headline that generated the highest CTR (assuming you’ve already made sure that it’s highly relevant to the article itself).
When testing anything, it is important to understand that the larger the sample size, the more reliable the data. I feel confident after 1,000 impressions, but that level of confidence may be higher or lower depending on your target audience.
If you do enough of these tests, you will start to see trends in your data that will allow you to construct statistically superior headlines. Your headline is extremely important in determining whether or not your article will be read – make sure you give it the attention it deserves. Happy testing!
– Franco Puetz

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(650) 539-4124

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