Recently, I monitored an interesting discussion in one of the forums about the length of headlines on sales pages. Some of the posters were in favor of longer headlines because they communicated more information and had a better chance of catching the interest of the prospect. Other posters claimed that some headlines were so long that they were confusing. Some even claimed that they would take away your breath if you attempted to read them aloud. One poster thought that very long headlines often appeared to be a run-on sentence even if it technically wasnt.
I decided it was time to do a study. I wanted to compare headlines on profitable sales pages to headlines on unprofitable ones. I wanted to find out if there really was a difference in the length of their headlines.
To perform that study, I first had to prepare a list of profitable sites and another list of unprofitable sites. I actually already had both due to another study I had recently performed. However, many of the unprofitable sites had disappeared from the Internet. I wasnt surprised. Why stick around if you cant make a profit; right?
I had to settle for comparing the headlines of profitable sales pages to the average sales page. I used my list of profitable sites and counted the words and characters in each headline. I skipped any site without a headline. I then looked at sites with ads running on the major search engine for the same product or service. I randomly picked one and also counted the words and characters in its headline for the control or average group.
The results were surprising. The average sales page has a headline of only 10 words comprising 55 characters. The profitable sales pages had and average of 14 words and 82 characters in their headlines.
We can conclude that profitable sales pages use longer headlines than the average sales page. That isnt so surprising.
The other finding was much more surprising. With only a handful of exceptions in thousands of data points, a length longer than 150 characters was very rare. Can we conclude that extremely long headlines arent profitable? No; there are other possibilities. However, we can conclude that it is exceptionally rare for profitable sales pages to use headlines longer than 150 characters. In fact, 90% of the data points fell within 131 characters.
That is my new recommendation. I intend to only use headlines that are at least 80 characters long and no longer than 131 characters and I advise the same to my clients.
This places me right in the middle of the correlation group for profitable headlines. Your headline is an important factor to consider when you are optimizing sales. I hope you consider following suit. If so, let me know if this study has improved your results. I look forward to hearing from you.