In the fast-moving world of real estate advertising, capturing your audience’s attention is paramount. And what better way to do that than with a headline that stops scrollers in their tracks? 

My passion for advertising began seven years ago when Devon and I were hooked on the show Mad Men. I fell head over heels for the romance of advertising. The first book I read, considered the advertising equivalent of the Holy Grail, was My Life in Advertising & Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins. Hopkins believed that advertising had one purpose: to sell something, not just to build a brand for the sake of it. He argued that an ad is like a salesman, and you should judge every ad the same way you’d judge an underperforming salesperson.

From then on, I was hooked! I devoured the works of all the greats: David Ogilvy, John Caples, Robert Collier, and Gary Halbert. I have read 146 books on advertising and direct marketing alone. I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to this stuff.

Each of these advertising gurus preached the same mantra: Test, Test, Test. They were writing in an era before the internet, when ads were confined to print, radio, and TV. In their day, judging a successful split test could take weeks or even months. Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is a method in advertising where you compare two versions of an ad to see which one performs better. Each version is shown to an identical audience size, and the one that yields a better conversion rate, click-through rate, or another metric of choice is considered the winner.

This got me thinking, could the ads from the golden age of print still work today? I did what any sane person would do: I ordered a bunch of old Life Magazines on eBay from the 1940s-1970s. 

My idea was anyone that who advertised in a national publication in the heyday of print really needed to deliver. Their advertisements needed to produce sales. I spent weeks combing through hundreds of magazines and created swipe files of amazing headlines. Simply changing a few words meant I could easily use them for real estate. 

Then my eureka moment arrived. With Facebook, I could split-test everything less expensively and much faster, all to create the most persuasive ads possible.

The importance of headlines cannot be overstated. On average, five times more people will read your headline than the rest of your ad or content, making it the most crucial part of your marketing message. 

Tips to maximize the impact of your headlines

  1. Use headlines in your ads, email newsletters, and listing descriptions.
  2. Focus on benefits and self-interest to capture attention.
  3. Provoke curiosity to encourage readers to engage with your content.
  4. Try using headlines in quotes and changing the third person to first person. For example, instead of “Why You’ll Cry When You See This Home,” try “Why I Cried When I Saw This Home.” 
  5. On Instagram, you only have one headline below the photo or video. Make it count!
  6. Facebook allows you to use headlines in both the top text and below the photo or video. Maximize this opportunity. In my experience, head-to-head, Facebook ads outperform Instagram ads by 125%.
  7. Think of headlines in your ads like headlines in newspapers. No one reads an entire newspaper. The headline’s goal is to pick out the people you can interest.
  8. Always take a positive approach and avoid negativity in your headlines.

Remember, headlines are the gateway to your content. They determine whether someone will engage with your message or scroll right past it. By continually split testing and refining your headlines, you’ll discover the formulas that resonate best with your target audience, ultimately driving more engagement, leads, and success for your real estate business.

Real Estate Headlines Split Test

My recent split test pitted our top 100 headlines against each other, all competing in the same time frame and for the same budget ($150 each). 

We used video ads and ran them as an “Awareness” objective on Facebook to ensure a true organic click-through rate. Now, let’s explore the words that work wonders!

Coming in at number 10 is  “Imagine.” This headline draws in the dreamers, making it irresistible for those aspiring to a new lifestyle. 

At number 9, we have the “Who Else” headline, which taps into the power of exclusivity and being part of the in-crowd.

Number 8 is the “Picture Yourself” headline, personalizing the ad and placing the buyer right into their future life.

The “We Think” headline secures spot number 7, confirming the buyer’s good taste and aligning their opinion with their desires.

At number 6, “Babe, I’m Telling You We Need to Go See This Home” creates a sense of urgency and sparks conversation between partners. 

Halfway there, the “We Promise” headline takes number 5, making a bold statement that challenges the buyer to check it out.

The “Change” headline lands at number 4, focusing on transformation – a key motivator for buyers. 

In third place, the “Discover” headline invites the audience on a journey to find a hidden gem.

Taking the second spot, “This Home Will Say Flattering Things About You” plays on the desire to impress and boost the buyer’s self-image. 

And finally, our top performer, “See What You’ve Been Missing,” sparks FOMO, driving buyers to act now.

Incorporate these tested and proven headline formulas into your real estate ads—but don’t stop there. Continually split-test your advertisements to fine-tune your approach and ensure you’re using the most effective headlines for your specific market. 

Want more? Grab my book, Six Weeks to Real Estate Success, to dive deep into the psychology behind real estate ads, discover more headline formulas, and learn step-by-step how to create ads that convert. Don’t miss out on this essential resource for any real estate professional looking to elevate their advertising game and increase business.