How to Use the FAB Formula in Copywriting to Create Effective Headlines

How to Use the FAB Formula in Copywriting to Create Effective Headlines

by | Jun 15, 2013 | Website Content

By now you know that your headlines are paramount to the success of your copy.

Headlines are what readers notice first and foremost when they scan a page. Headlines are what make them stop and look closer. Headlines are what make people read one sentence, then the next and the next.

On the other hand, a boring headline will make them lose interest. They’ll look the other way without bothering to read more. Even worse – they’ll click the little “x” at the top right corner of their screen.

So, how do you keep them interested? How do you write headlines that grab their attention every single time?

How do you make your readers stop, look, and “listen?”

Turns out, there’s a formula to help you do just that.

fab formula in copywriting

FAB: The Copywriting Formula You Need to Grab Your Readers in 120 Characters

Here’s a universal truth: people don’t relate to plain-stated facts. They relate to stories.

Stories are what give those facts a human heart. Stories make facts relatable.

If you can tell a story, you can write a headline. However, there’s a catch: you must be able to tell your tale in a very short amount of space – for Google search results, that’s 120 characters or less.


How the FAB Formula in Copywriting Helps

Using a writing formula will give you a blueprint to follow for telling a quick, effective story. The quality of the story in your headline will make readers stop, sit up, and pay attention.

According to Copyhacker, a formula will help you organize the message you’re trying to tell into a form that’s as persuasive as possible.

Think of the formula as the skeleton of your story structure. To make it come alive, you fill in the “who,” “what,” and “why.” This saves a lot of time and brainpower – half of the work is done for you, and all you need to do is come up with strong verbs and nouns to plug into the equation.

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The FAB Formula, Broken Down Letter-by-Letter

So, what is FAB? It goes like this:

  • F = Features. What can your product or service do? What does it offer?
  • A = Advantages. Why is it helpful? What problem(s) does it solve?
  • B = Benefits. Why is this relevant to the reader? What does it mean for them?

In other words, you lead with the main feature of your product/service, which naturally takes you into why it’s better than the rest. Then you explain how this is great for the customer.

Buffer explains that this works precisely because you’re focusing on the benefits as the main point of your mini story. The entire sentence leads the reader to this final whammy, arguably the thing they care about most.

What, why, and how. Features, advantages, and benefits. Done and done.

Examples of the FAB Formula in Copywriting in Action

Everywhere you turn, businesses and blogs are utilizing the FAB way to create headlines. Buffer provides this great example of FAB in action in one simple Tweet:


  • Feature: Social media management
  • Advantage: Get help scheduling updates
  • Benefit: Get more clicks

Note key terms like “complete,” “help,” and “get.” This line is to-the-point, but that factor works in its favor.

We can easily come up with other examples from a variety of different companies effectively using FAB.

1. Apple Watch


Apple utilizes FAB to let customers know how the new watchOS has improved.

“A smarter coach and workout partner. Better in tune with your taste in music. And an even more proactive all-day assistant. With watchOS 4, Apple Watch is dialed in to you like never before.”

  • Features: It’s a coach, workout partner, keeps up with your music tastes, and is an all-day assistant.
  • Advantages: It’s smarter, better, and more proactive.
  • Benefits: It’s dialed into you like never before.

While this example mixes up the formula a little bit (for instance, the features and advantages are blended together), it still has the same strength of a more traditional FAB structure.

2. Farmers Insurance


Farmers Insurance uses FAB here to tout their mobile app.

“Farmers Mobile App: An easier, smarter way to access your insurance anytime, anywhere.”

  • Features: Access your insurance
  • Advantages: It’s easier and smarter
  • Benefits: Get access anytime, anywhere

3. HubSpot


Here, HubSpot highlights their software using the FAB formula.

“With HubSpot’s marketing, sales, and CRM software, you can grow like a company twice your size while connecting like a real human being.”

  • Features: Marketing, sales, and CRM software that help manage your “pipeline”
  • Advantages: Grow like a company twice your size
  • Benefits: Connect like a real human being

From all these examples, it’s clear that an effective formula can put the emphasis of your headline right where you need it. It grabs the reader’s attention, but most importantly, it holds it.

The FAB formula in copywriting does this well because it puts the emphasis on the benefits to the reader as opposed to the features. The features are mentioned, but they are only there to help build the mini-story to its peak.

When readers reach that peak, they want to know more. This is exactly what a headline should do.

Pay Attention to Your Headline Writing to Hook Readers

According to QuickSprout, eight out of 10 people read headlines, but only two of those same 10 people will stick around to read the rest of your post.

That’s only 20% of all your readers – not terribly good odds.

This is why you need to increase your chances that people will stop, look, stay, and keep reading. When you craft well-written, well-formulated headlines, you’re heading off on the right foot.

The formula, as we said before, is half the work. You have to take the ball and run with it the rest of the way. Along with a proven strategy for structure, like the FAB formula in copywriting, you also need some key elements that help create a powerful title.

This infographic sums it up nicely:


In short, don’t forget to use strong verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. Use words that spur the reader to action, or make them feel emotion.

The combination of a FAB formula in copywriting with good writing strategies will take your headlines to the top. It’s the first step to hooking your readers, and it’s how good content becomes great content.

Struggling with crafting headlines and creating content with impact? Express Writers can help – take a look at our Content Shop to get started.

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