Over the last three weeks, I’ve bought about five items online for my personal use, which beat last year’s record of four items within the same time period. If you like to shop online, chances are that you’ve beaten my record or at least bought the same amount of products.
I’m a content writer by training, so I have hundreds of digital-marketing related projects under my belt. However, I’m also a consumer, so I often get enticed by offers that businesses send me via emails or those I see on ads. The businesses I typically buy from, like other companies, have found an effective way to engage me with beautiful marketing messaging and/or experiences via ads.
As a writer myself, I can tell you for sure that writing ad copy is nothing but easy. Many people have misconceptions about that, too – I mean how difficult writing a few lines of text can be, right? In reality, though, even a single line of copy that goes in an ad is a result of thorough research, consideration, planning, and brainstorming.
Yes, that copy might easily make or break a digital marketing campaign, so writing is something that should not be treated lightly. In fact, writing an ad copy should be a careful process to maximize the chances of helping you to achieve your B2C marketing goals.
In this guide, let’s show you how to write attention-grabbing and compelling ad copy that makes people want to click and buy.
Do Your Homework by Researching Your Audience
As mentioned in the introduction, a lot of work goes into producing ad copies, so doing research is one of the essential parts of the preparation. Doing pre-campaign research is a mandatory requirement that seeks to improve the quality of the copy by showing what’s out there and what your customers would like to read.
For example, audience research is often the first item on the to-do list of many marketers because, well, you can’t sell something to someone you know absolutely nothing about. A truly compelling copy that speaks to the intended audience is the one that has something that triggers some interest from them.
That’s why customer research is the first step in writing an effective ad copy. Here are the most important steps to take:
- Determine your target audience and its segments. Create audience personas or use other customer research techniques that you prefer to discover who your typical customers are and what their interests and needs might be. Then, divide your target audience into different segments that might respond to your copy differently to know how to create more targeted campaigns
- Decide why your target customers would want to buy your products. This can help with writing the copy; for example, you can mention benefits there to grab the attention of readers
- Check on the competition. By doing so, you’ll know how your competitors conduct ad campaigns and discover possible ways to make your own different (and better!)
The easiest way to conduct the research is to dig into your existing customer data, conduct a survey, or use Google Analytics.
Keep in mind that research does two important things that contribute to the overall success of your campaign. First, it inspires authenticity and second, it keeps your text customer-focused.
Make Your Draft as Simple as Possible
A lot of copywriters and content producers have a habit of making their content long even when it’s unnecessary (the average length of a blog post, for example, went from 808 words in 2014 to 1151 words in 2018). In many cases, this is done for good reasons such as explaining a complex phenomenon to customers, but in the case of ad copy, this can easily make it useless.
Please note that it is important to “split test your copywriting” into your content creation process and sales copy, because it is often the unexpected phrases and terminology that tend to convert best.
Most ads are very short and customers spend no more than five seconds reading them. That’s why simplicity should be your main goal here, as grabbing attention with an unnecessarily long text with some industry jargon is not a good way to grab the attention of consumers (not even those familiar with the jargon).
Unfortunately, there’s no universal formula of a perfect ad copy, so you should edit your first draft ruthlessly to make it as simple and concise as you possibly can. Here are some tips:
- Go for a single word instead of a phrase; try using a phrase instead of a sentence and a sentence instead of a paragraph
- Minimize the use of adjectives; they’re really overused in digital marketing. As Neil Patel says, “Pick the right adjective and your sales copy is memorable and persuasive. Choose the wrong one and you lose your reader’s attention.”
For example, here’s an adjective-free ad copy that demonstrates a better approach to writing: focus on action.
- Avoid adverbs. They’re not effective at fostering action and add unnecessary complexity to your copy. As a copywriter Scott McKelvey wrote, “Flowery adjectives and adverbs are the enemies of content clarity and credibility.”
And it’s totally true, as an adverb-free like the one below reads easy and conveys the message beautifully.
The Headline is Paramountly Important
Every day, people encounter a lot of content, most of which is whether irrelevant or simply boring for them (that’s why 74 percent of marketers say that targeted personalization is so effective at increasing customer engagement). To break through the noise and grab the attention of people who come across your copy, you need your headline to be as compelling as possible.
Similarly to email subject lines that have a profound impact on open and click-through rates, strong ad headlines are critical. Here are some ways to make that happen.
- Focus on the benefits for customers. This is a common technique that works for B2C digital marketing and can be applied here, too. For example, by including “Quality Sleep” in the ad copy, the writer appeals to customers looking for mattresses with maximum comfort.
- Use proof to demonstrate that you’re a reliable business. In the ad below, the writer included the number of customers to drive sales and make readers more confident that the company is worth checking out.
Indeed, this is a good technique, as it’s a known fact that 84 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Storytelling is quickly becoming one of the most popular digital marketing techniques. With the days one hardsell and in-your-face advertising gone forever, businesses need another, more meaningful way to connect with their audiences through content.
Here’s why storytelling is so good:
- Stories help businesses be more relatable, real, and authentic
- Stories prioritize brand mission and vision, which is often to help their communities
- Stories can help you build brand communities and foster loyalty
- Stories are meaningful, therefore, they’re easier to memorize
- Stories can trigger an emotional response and create a positive feeling.
But how to come up with a story that can place a business in a position to get all or most of these benefits?
Tell the story of your customer or align it with yours.
Since Timberland’s target audience is people with an active lifestyle who care about their environment, most of the recent brand’s marketing campaigns have been focusing on environmental awareness. The latest one, “Nature Needs Heroes,” tells the stories of real customers who are at the forefront of protecting the environment in their communities.
Timberland has been doing the same thing successfully, too, so their ads tell the stories of their projects that contribute to the brand’s mission to create a positive impact by working on sustainability.
In other words, find an interest or an issue that your target customers feel strongly about and base your storytelling on that. Use their experiences to write ad copies that can really speak to them.
Just ask copywriters who write ads for insurance companies, this is a pretty good technique.
Write a Compelling CTA
Regardless of the technique you’ve chosen to write your ad copy, it should have the call to action, which is a message that describes the action you’d like the customer to take. The most important thing here is to stay away from salesy CTAs like “Buy Now” and go for something creative and action-oriented.
For example, the ad below contains two phrases that can be considered good examples: “Go Organic – it’s a lifestyle” and “Eat & drink organic, you deserve it!”
Keep in mind that your CTA should reflect what will happen once a potential customer clicks on your ad. Otherwise, you’re just misleading and tricking people into visiting your website, which they won’t appreciate.
Writing a successful ad copy is a lot of work, but if you follow the best practices described above, the reward will be worth the effort. You can increase the conversion rate, build brand awareness, and do many other great things if you adopt a comprehensive professional approach, all without sitting around and waiting for a creative epiphany.