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SPARK 2016: Headline Testing May Be The Single Most Impactful Thing You Can Do


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See Ory Rinat's presentation from Spark 2016, TrackMaven's annual digital marketing summit focused on the intersection of marketing art and science. Learn more at

Headlines have to live on their own – unlike in the print world where they were attached to your article and content. They travel across the web, asking readers for their click. Our research has shown that just changing a headline can swing engagement with a piece of content by 30%. So we test our headlines. A lot. Learn how we quickly and cheaply run A/B tests on our headlines, and see some of the key takeaways we apply as a result.

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SPARK 2016: Headline Testing May Be The Single Most Impactful Thing You Can Do

  1. 1. 1 Headline Testing: The Single Most Impactful Thing You Can Do (Maybe)
  2. 2. “ Headlines have to work on their own, unlike in print. What’s the proposition you want to say to the reader to earn his/her click?” —Gabriel Snyder, Editor-in-Chief, The New Republic
  3. 3. Overview Headlines Testing Basics
  4. 4. Headline Testing Basics Evaluating 2+ headline options Comparing performance when it comes to a key metric
  5. 5. Headline Testing Basics An experiment, not an analysis Controlling for all other factors
  6. 6. Headline Testing Basics Seeking for significant results – not small variations Selecting a testing environment that represents broader engagement
  7. 7. Our Methodology One Approach to Testing
  8. 8. Our Approach to Testing Using Facebook paid advertising Confirmed that Facebook is indicative of our broader audience
  9. 9. Our Approach to Testing Setting up a distinct ad campaign, ad set, and ad for each headline option Launching each headline option at the same time, to the same audience, with the same budget
  10. 10. Our Approach to Testing Allowing test to run for at least 3 hours and at least 10,000 impressions Lowest CPC headline or one with greatest clicks is winning option
  11. 11. The Data: Headline Tests In Action
  12. 12. Which Headline Worked? A B
  13. 13. Hypothesis: Clarity Wins Over Poetry A B 48 Shares 787 Clicks 115 Shares 1184 Clicks Winner: 50% more clicks
  14. 14. Which Headline Worked? A B
  15. 15. Hypothesis: Decisiveness Drives Clicks A B 80 shares 656 Clicks 16 Shares 460 Clicks Winner: 42% more clicks
  16. 16. Which Headline Worked? A B
  17. 17. Hypothesis: Key Stats Win Out A B 43 Shares 1041 Clicks 38 Shares 727 Clicks Winner: 43% more clicks
  18. 18. Which Headline Worked? A B
  19. 19. Hypothesis: Extra Words Don’t Help A B 64 Shares 1117 Clicks 27 Shares 862 Clicks Winner: 29% more clicks
  20. 20. Which Headline Worked? A B
  21. 21. Hypothesis: Logical Syntax is Key A B 26 Shares 697 Clicks 27 Shares 946 Clicks Winner: 35% more clicks
  22. 22. Which Headline Worked? A B
  23. 23. Hypothesis: Simplicity Should be a Default A B 2 Shares 419 Clicks 16 Shares 1512 Clicks Winner: 260% more clicks