tryingtowrite

Simple B2B Headline Writing System

The folks at MarketingExperiments are at it again- this time developing a formula for writing headlines.

Masterful headline writing is a highly prized skill in the copywriting world. Can it really be reduced to a formula?

While MarketingExperiments doesn’t reveal their formulas in detail (except in their paid training), I think we can figure it out from what they do disclose:

http://www.marketingexperiments.com/blog/research-topics/copywriting-research-topics/methodology-to-effective-headlines.html

In essence, the idea is to take the noun phrases and assign them low/medium/high scores for appeal, credibility, exclusivity, and clarity.

Not sure what a noun phrase is? Definition: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/noun+phrase

If we equate low with 1 point, medium with 2 points, and high with 3 points, we get the following:

  • Appeal: 0-3 points
  • Credibility: 0-3 points
  • Exclusivity: 0-3 points
  • Clarity: 0-3 points

If the sentence contains multiple noun phrases, take the averages.

The Formula

Putting this in to a formula we get:

Headline Effectiveness % = (Appeal + Credibility + Exclusivity + Clarity)/12)*100

or

HE = ((AP + CR + EX + CL)/12)*100

Applying this to this post’s headline, “Simple B2B Headline Writing System” – I only see one noun phrase (the whole headline).

  • Appeal: 3 – Anyone that’s struggled with writing headlines will want to check this out.
  • Credibility: 1 – There’s not much in terms of credibility building going on in this headline. It will have to lean on other factors for credibility.
  • Exclusivity: 3 – While a Google search for “b2b headlline writing system” yielded over 1 million results, none of the search results in the first 3 pages offered a system- just tips.
  • Clarity: 3 – No confusing jargon or terms used. Value proposition is clearly stated.

HE% = ((3 + 1 + 3 + 3)/12))*100 = 83%

The headline earns a B rating… not bad, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

One Of The All-Time Most Successful Headlines

How does this formula rate one of the most successful headlines ever created: “Do You Make These Mistakes In English?”

Noun phrases: ..You..Mistakes..English – I’m not sure if “You” qualifies as a noun phrase, but I’ll include it anyway.

You:

  • Appeal – 3
  • Credibility – 0
  • Exclusivity – 0
  • Clarity – 3

Mistakes:

  • Appeal – 3
  • Credibility – 0
  • Exclusivity – 0
  • Clarity – 3

English:

  • Appeal – 3
  • Credibility – 0
  • Exclusivity – 0
  • Clarity – 3

HE% = ((3 + 1 + 1 + 3)/12))*100 = 67%

A C- score.

What this tells me is that Appeal and Clarity should be weighted more heavily than Credibility and Exclusivity. If something’s exciting and clear, why not act on it now? We can always give the benefit of the doubt for Credibility and Exclusivity- these can be evaluated later.

A revised weighting might look like:

  • Appeal: 0-6 points
  • Credibility: 0-3 points
  • Exclusivity: 0-3 points
  • Clarity: 0-6 points

If we give the above headline full points for Appeal and Clarity we get:

HE% = ((6 + 1 + 1 +6)/18))*100 = 77%

A C+ score. Still not high enough for such a successful headline.

However, I think the process for determining the proper weights is clear: adjust the weightings until you can get most of the top performing 50 or so headlines to average at a score of at least 85%… not something I have time for right now. I’ll wait to see what MarketingExperiments has to say in their follow-up article.

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