Mattress startup Purple made waves last week when it went public with the secret sauce of its digital strategy.

Some in the industry were mesmerized to learn that Purple’s digital ad performance went up, and its costs went down, when it focused on creating quality ad creative. Just like traditional advertising, it developed multiple iterations of an ad, tested and tweaked, a tried and true process that the TV space has used for years but that digital has de-emphasized in favor of targeting.

Certainly, all of digital can benefit from optimization and testing, even native advertising.  As David Ogilvy wrote in his 1963 book, Confessions of an Ad Man, “A change in headline can make a difference of ten to one in sales. I never write fewer than 16 headlines for a single advertisement.”  To this day, David Ogilvy’s advice is wise and true. Data shows that the better the headline, the better a native ad performs.  The best performing headline that we’ve seen performed at 650% more than the average.

In native advertising, certainly the headline is the best chance for a quick win to drive more sales.  Here are five surefire tips to master your headline creative in your next native ad:

 

> Write for the time-poor reader. According to data from Microsoft, people lose concentration after eight seconds. This is why the best headlines are 70 characters or fewer and get straight to the point.

 

> Use high performance words. There are 49 words that best perform in headlines. Some of them are:Numbers and years: 5, 7, 9, 10, 20XX: The No. 1….

– Questions. What, Why, When, Which, Will, etc.

– Adjectives: Top, Exclusive, Essential and Critical

– Benefit:  Ways, Rules, Tips, Facts, Lessons, Reasons and Secrets

– Opportunity: Free, New, Easy, Now, Quick, Last and Chance

 

> Qualify the audience–We did this in our headline above and you should also qualify your reader in your native advertisement. Words like advertisers, marketers, moms, investors and students are all great examples of words that qualify the reader.

 

> A/B test: like in the situation of Purple, there is no reason why you cannot and should not test your native ad content. In one situation, we tested two headlines where one headline generated a 48% higher click-through rate than the other by making small tweaks to the overall headline.  Note: make sure your A/B tests are statistically significant with less the a 5% chance of random error.

 

> Get into your customer’s head. The key to any marketing is knowing what is important to your customers. A/B testing will only tell you how one ad performs against another. Spending time with your sales team, and understanding what’s important to your customers, should be key to informing any content strategy. The more meaningful your communication, the more likely a reader is to take notice.

 

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