Writing high-performing ad copy: best practices.

Let’s face it, writing high-converting or high-CTR PPC ads can take time.

Why? Because PPC, as advertisers know, is all about testing everything all the time to obtain better performance!

I don’t know about you, but when I do a search on Google, I can tell which ads I would never click on, and I know how to recognise an ad that has taken time to write. Ads are very important, simply because they carry the message users will read, and they reflect the strategy and the thinking behind SEM. Advertisers need to convey the right message, at the right time, to the right people… in a limited number of characters! Not an easy job!

Today, I would like to refocus on the best practices to keep in mind while writing ad copy.

After doing the background work, as in knowing the client and their products or services, their target and their business goals, it is good to write down the benefits of the products. Why? Because users have to know what they’re going to get by clicking on your ad and browsing your website, which leads to my first point:

 

  • Unique selling proposition

Put yourself in the position of the users: what are the benefits they want from your product? There is a difference between what you think is going to make them convert, and what actually triggers that action. Also, keep in mind that selling points differ from one product to another,

For example, if you run an e-commerce website, selling home decor and appliances, chances are you won’t be using the same ad for fridges as you would for table lamps. While fridges may be focusing on the price and quality, table lamps are more about the material and colours.

 

  • Clarity is key!

According to a recent article by Search Engine Land, users are more responsive to ads that do not require a lot of mental effort. By trying to put too many ideas in one ad, you might end up overwhelming users with information. Since ads are just the starting point of the user journey, you might want to filter out any information that is not that relevant (in the ad copy that is). Specificity is fuel to good marketing. If your ads are too generic, you won’t attract the users you want, in fact, you won’t attract anyone! Avoiding the “Hype” is the way to go!

 

  • Include keywords in the ad copy

Users always search for the keywords they queried in the ad copy. For example, if someone searched for “argan oil shampoo”, you might want to strongly consider incorporating those words in your ad. Users scan the results page for those keywords. An ad that doesn’t mention those would be of no interest, which is probably the case for the Strawberrynet ad in the example below:

Google Results

 

  • Use numbers

We are all attracted to shops displaying a huge -70% sale banner on their window…. PPC ads are just the same! If you are running a sale or special promotion, say it! Also, studies show that the more specific you are in stating numbers in your ad copy, the higher the CTR. Same goes for the use of countdown timers in ads: this fairly new feature in Adwords can boost your CTR by increasing the loss aversion of users, or “FOMO“.

 

  • Branded vs. non-branded ad copy

I’ve always found this one a little bit tricky. When users search for generic terms, using branded ad copy may not be as appealing as using the search query in the headline. However, one of my clients had a better conversion rate for branded ad copy in non-branded ad groups…

Ad Copy Results

 

 

Although it would make sense to have a higher conversion rate for non-branded ad copy in non-branded ad groups, since users are looking for a product, not a brand, it sometimes can be interesting to test both. Simply run an experiment within Adwords, and observe the results after a month or two.

 

These few tips should help you improve the CTR of your ads. Do not forget that testing ad copy is a must as a PPC advertiser, whether it be the message, the wording or the final URL.

 

Feel free to share your best practices in the comment section below!

 

Share your opinion

One Response

  1. Hi Elodie,

    Thank you for this primer. If I may share an additional point:

    Many times, campaign ads are created in spreadsheet form first. The spreadsheet will have a column for the headline, a column for description line 1 (a.k.a D1), description line 2 (D2), display URL, etc, with columns appearing side by side.

    The challenge with a spreadsheet layout is the ad writer doesn’t get to see how the ad will look (i.e. headline on top of display URL, D1 and D2). Not seeing how the ad will look makes it difficult to assess which ads flow well and which need adjustment.

    Adding an ‘ad preview’ section to the spreadsheet that shows what your ads are going to look like when live = much easier.

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