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How to Write Great Copy for Search Ads

Paid Advertising


“Take her to the moon for me, ok?” For those who’ve had the pleasure of watching Inside Out, this is one of the most memorable lines from the movie. I can assure you that the vast majority of movie-goers felt the raw emotions of Bing Bong (spoiler alert) when he was about to leave the consciousness of Riley. As a matter of fact, you’d have to be some sort of robot to not feel at least a little sympathetic.

The quote has been posted all over social media because the audience was able to relate. Emotions can form a solid common ground for a lot of people, and this works for marketing, too.

In the marketing industry, ad copy is the text that audiences see in an ad banner or any clickable advertisement. But more importantly, the copy is the first thing a user sees that convinces them to click on a search ad. Undoubtedly, first impressions are critical because they can mean the difference between establishing a relationship with a prospect and losing that visitor’s interest for good.  

There are a lot of things that go into writing effective ad copy. As a business, you need to consider who the audience is, how this audience thinks, and what this audience needs. It’s only once you’ve uncovered the details that you’ll know exactly how to motivate them to click.

According to Ogilvy, the consumer must be treated like a wife—a treatment that’s about dignity and respect. It might sound a bit clichéd, but the power that comes with targeting consumer emotions is just incredible! Harnessing this power allows brands to connect with their audiences on a deeper level, beyond the traditional business-to-customer relationship.

In addition to that, ad copy helps users determine if a product or service is relevant to them. So, it’s a good idea to tell them what they want to hear. Rather than telling them how awesome your product is and focusing on the features, you should aim to show them how your product can make their life better. What pain points are you addressing? How does your product help save time/money/etc.?

Now that you know the importance of writing great ad copy, below are some tips to follow when conceptualizing and creating your campaign:


  1. Work within the context and intent of the consumer.


Think and feel like the consumer. People’s buying behavior arise when there’s a need. If the consumer is clearly displaying a need by considering which product or service to avail, then the marketer should present the answer or solution to their dilemma. In ActiveCampaign’s marketing automation ad, they include contextually-related features for users looking for marketing automation support, making the ad significantly more relevant. There are other sophisticated ActiveCampaign alternatives that include advanced automation features.

The marketer should make sure that the context of the ad matches what they’re trying to convey. Keep in mind that certain keywords trigger different thoughts and perspectives for consumers as well. For example, adding the term “for sale” or “services” denotes that these items/services are readily available for use/purchase.

The brand’s key claims should reflect the contextual information in the copy. This will influence the consumer’s perspective of the brand such as its evaluation and their attitude towards it. As a rule of thumb, use your ad copy to set the user’s expectations for what happens next.


  1. Use ad copy that states the benefit of the offer.


There must be a benefit that matches what the consumer wants or needs. The decision for a consumer to click on an ad tends to be influenced by their notions and understanding of what they can gain from it. So, to create the most compelling ad copy possible, make sure you’re letting users know what’s in it for them.

In this example, eBrandz focuses on the benefits to communicate the value of their offering to potential prospects. Go one step further by conveying how your product will improve users’ lives rather than focusing on the features and dimensions.

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  1. Elicit an emotional response.


Try to trigger emotions to get them to click on the ad. Focus on emotion-triggering ad copy to further build the context that you use to attract prospects. Konica Minolta uses the emotional trigger of “bringing your ideas to life” to make their 3D printers more attractive.

Emotions such as anger, disgust, affirmation, and fear tend to have the biggest impact on brand perception and purchase decision. Using these will help you increase clickthrough rates and lower your overall cost-per-lead (CPL).

You can also prime your audience so that a particular response is elicited when they see your ad. In doing so, you can further increase conversion rates and make user behavior more predictable.


  1. Mention what makes your brand unique


One major point that your ad copy needs to address is the need for differentiation. In a search marketing context, the only way to achieve this is to explicitly mention how your brand stands out from the rest of the search results. Every other brand is competing for audience attention, so it’s a good idea to help prospects understand why yours is the best option.

With GCSAgents’ ad, they used their #1 ranking on BenchmarkPortal to position themselves as an industry leader, creating a sense of authority and accomplishment for anyone viewing their ad.

This is all about positioning your brand against the competition. If you’ve got the widest range of oven hoods in the country, you should definitely let people know about it in your ad copy. If you’ve got the happiest customers in the industry, be sure to make it known. Users conducting searches are always looking for a reason to choose one option over another, make it easy for them.


  1. Understanding the consumer’s point of view

The consumer has their own behavioral tendencies. They may have affinities towards specific topics or certain motivators when it comes to specific offers. The best way to learn about your consumer is to gather the right data about them.


In the example above, ProsperWorks considers the fact that many consumers aren’t happy with their existing CRMs. This gives users the impression that they’re not just another CRM company. They actually care about how their customers feel.

Google Analytics can help with the collection of data. In line with this, the data can be used to better cater the ad copy, as well as to what they feel a connection to.

Metrics to consider here would be what pages get the most traffic, what links users are clicking on, what articles they’re reading, what videos they’re watching, and the like. When you come across a particular page or piece of media that’s getting attention, you’ll know it means something significant to your audience.


Wrapping Up

At the end of the day, your copy needs to be written for your customer’s persona. It might be ironic that after looking at figures and numbers to determine the ad’s performance, the conception and creation of it rely in the intangibles.

Creating effective ad copy is about understanding the consumer inside and out. Their emotions, opinions, and intent are all important factors to consider when writing compelling ad copy. The more you know about your ideal customer, the better you’ll be at crafting a message that appeals to them on a deeper level.

Remember that consumers change their behavior, so ad copy that works today might not work tomorrow. What’s key is that you keep up the research and evolve along with the needs of your audience. Keep optimizing your SEM campaigns! Be flexible with your implementation and always remember that if it matters to your audience, it should matter to you.


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