If you want to learn how to write ad copy, you must develop a profound knowledge of the target audience, create attention-grabbing, UX-optimized headlines and images, and address the audience's main concerns. Connecting to the user throughout the copy's content is also a must, and in some contexts, using humor is of great importance.
It sounds straightforward, but of course, there is much more to it. That's why we have prepared a 5300-word long article on how to write ad copy for you. Whether you are a beginner, an intermediate, or an expert, we will share many tips and tricks to help you out.
After you finish this article, you will know how to write compelling ad copy for various platforms. You will learn how to gather information about your target audience so that you can use it for your campaigns. You will also learn how to write copy in psychologically optimized ways that will skyrocket clicks on your ads. You will also learn how to maximize the chances of your potential customers converting.
Lastly, you will discover how to implement these tips into the most crucial price per click (ppc) ad formats: Facebook ads, Google ads, Linkedin ads, video ads, and radio ads.
The first step of learning how to write ad copy might sound obvious, but you would be surprised by how many marketers don't get it right.
To maximize the impact that your ad campaigns will have, you need to do a proper segmentation. You also need to tailor your message to the audience of that segmentation, to how your customers (or potential customers) think, and to what they want.
Before investing a penny in Google or Facebook ads, you should stop to reflect on your customer. Who is your customer and why does he want that product or service? What are his aspirations and motivations? Will he buy from you and not from others?
Marketers have specific questions that need answers about their prospective customers. To answer them, they create a buyer persona (an avatar of your product or service).
These are some of the things you will need to find out about your customers to create a buyer persona:
We encourage you to create one, then go a step further, and create empathy maps of your customer segments.
Both the buyer persona and the empathy map help you to understand the end customer more in-depth and communicate who that customer is to your team with granular detail.
Once the buyer persona and the empathy maps are ready, you should share them with your marketing team, especially those in charge of writing ad copy and landing pages. They will have to appeal to your customers' emotions and needs to convert them into a paying customer, which means they need to have a profound understanding of your audience.
Now, you might be wondering, how can I identify my target audience? Where can I find all this information about my customers?
First of all, you should already be collecting as much data as possible (of course, always in a legal manner) about your current clients through the different touch points (such as through your website with Google Analytics and Facebook pixel, through your social media pages, through custom surveys, among others).
If you don't have clients, don't worry, we are about to share with you one of our pro tips: use Facebook audience insights.
Facebook Insights is a free tool that allows marketers to discover anonymized information about each segment of Facebook users, such as their interests, the pages they like, their location, gender, age range, and many others. By introducing specific seed interests or demographic information (such as an age range, a job occupation, or a determined region), the tool will output as much data as possible about the users that have that seed interest or demographic.
Suppose your need for information about your customers is even steeper than that, and you are willing to invest more significant amounts of money in satisfying them. In that case, you can always hire market research study services or carry them out yourself.
Ready to write? Let's get into some ad copy tips!
You already know your audience, and thus you know what they want to hear before clicking on your ad.
Focus on the headline first.
The most prominent part of the copy will be the headline; it is the text that will stand out the most in the ad. If you miss on the headline, nobody will see the rest of your copy.
Your headline should be attention-grabbing and pique your audience's curiosity but should open that deeply embedded pain they desperately need to curb or eliminate. Keep your headline short and direct so it gives them confidence your product or service will eliminate that pain.
Let's get more in-depth in the matter. Here are the best practices to follow when writing ad headlines:
For an IQ training product: "Train & improve your IQ with just two hours a week" or "Improve your IQ."
For an international payments platform: "Open an Account in minutes - Make & Receive Global Payments" or "Make & Receive Global Payments at the lowest rates."
Of course, the headline's length will depend on the advertising context based on the platform you’re using for that ad.
The more visual your ad is, the shorter your headline should be.
Along the lines of the previous point and examples, note that the headline's benefit or pain will depend on the target audience and their motivations. For instance, in the first example, we assume our audience is people who have a general interest in IQ and cognition and that they want to increase their intelligence just because they like the topic.
But what if the target audience were university STEM students looking forward to improving their grades? Wouldn't it be more effective to address that particular motivation in the headline?
Behold how many variations your headline can have depending on the main motivations of your targeted audience:
STEM students who want to improve their grades: "Train your IQ and boost your STEM grades" or "Train your IQ, improve your grades," "Become a STEM genius with our IQ training program," "Boost your grades in STEM, with our IQ training program."
High school or university students with study difficulties: "Become smarter & boost your academic performance," "Boost your academic performance with our IQ training," "Study faster with our IQ training program."
Parents concerned about the poor school performance of their children: "Help your children do better in school with our IQ training program," "Boost your children's IQ and help them get better grades."
The possibilities are endless.
The faster your potential customers can read and understand it, the better. You should keep your headlines as short and straightforward as possible.
As previously mentioned, the optimal length will depend on the advertising context. For instance, keeping them under six words is advisable for Facebook ads (and other visual formats). That's what most marketers do, according to a study by Adespreso. On the other hand, Google gives advertisers a total of 3 headlines of 30 characters each and separated by a vertical pipe symbol, which means the entire 3-part headline can be longer than five words.
In general, be straight and to the point.
The clearer and more specific and direct you can be in your copy, the better. Numbers are a compelling way to become more clear and distinct.
In general, when a value proposition’s benefits are specified with numbers, users tend to find the copy more appealing.
For instance, instead of "Learn the benefits of doing yoga," people would prefer something along the lines of "Learn the seven benefits of doing yoga."
Instead of "Improve your IQ," "Improve your IQ in 1 month" would perform better. Indeed, "Raise your IQ 10 points in 1 month" would be even better.
The more specific you can get with the help of numbers, the more clicks and attention you will attract.
Of course, using this technique is not always going to be possible. For instance, some value propositions can't be specified by a number. Writing long headlines is not possible on all advertising platforms either, so resorting to this practice is optional. If the value proposition is not in the headline, it can be included in the rest of the copy in a visible position.
Clickbait works wonders in specific contexts. By clickbait, we are not referring to falsely and ridiculously inflating your headlines in deceptive ways, but to make them attention-grabbing in a legitimate and ethical manner - just like most YouTubers do.
Using a "clickbait" type of headline will be helpful when promoting blog posts or other pieces of content. But don't overdo it. Some platforms, like Google ads, have policies against excessively exaggerated clickbait.
A clickbait headline could be something like "The seven marketing secrets not even Neil Patel knows."
Make sure your target landing page delivers on the headline, otherwise, your target audience may be confused or upset.
If you want to see more examples of this technique in practice, we encourage you to go to Youtube and pay careful attention to the titles of the top trending videos.
You already know your audience and what they care about. You have already crafted a headline that speaks straight to that audience and their interests.
Now it's time to write the rest of the copy, like the description. You will have more room to write in some advertising formats than in others. Feel free to use as much as is necessary, but no more.
This part of your ad should be very visual and easy to read. It should also abide by the same rules mentioned in the headlines: you should keep describing the benefits your user will receive and be precise about them.
In the headline, we had to decide the most crucial benefit for each audience segment. Now that we have their attention, we can include more benefits. Make sure these benefits are things that are important for your customers.
By the way, do you see how adding numbers to make the benefits more specific also makes them appear more powerful?
In some instances, adding figures is redundant, like in the first example ("100% safe to use"). That "100%" is disposable; however, it makes the benefit look more powerful.
Of course, make sure the numbers you add are accurate.
You must tell users what they have to do to proceed with the offer, and you must do so in a very visual way.
A "Call To Action" or CTA is well known staple in the marketing community.
The CTA could be defined as the visual element and the message that pushes the user to perform a specific action. This is usually the part of the UI (user interface) that will take the user where you want them to go to begin the conversion process. Or in other words, the CTA is usually a button.
The button should be big, easy to find (the most prominent element in the ad), attention-grabbing, and you should use colors that make it stand out. Blues are friendly, reds are warnings, yellows are cautionary, etc. The important thing is that the color of the button contrasts with any other design elements you have on the page; nothing else should be the same color as that button.
If you are going to place a CTA in an image, it should preferably be slightly below the middle of the image to the right. For human visual processing reasons, these images usually attract our attention the most, and we perceive them more easily.
That CTA or button should also contain a message in an imperative form (e.g., "Buy now," "Sign up today").
Incorporating a sense of urgency will make your conversions skyrocket.
If your potential customers feel that "it's now or never," they will probably act. Scarcity is one of the best tools to give them that “now or never” feeling deep inside. Where possible, use that.
Depending on the nature of your industry, there are several ways to accomplish this.
For instance, if you are in e-commerce, it could be possible to create this sense of urgency by stating a "limited number of units."
If you are running a discount campaign, you can state that it is a "time-limited offer."
The higher the perception of scarcity you can create, the better. If your users don't act now, they will lose the opportunity to have something they want.
Make sure you include words in your copy that appeal precisely to the fact that they would be missing an incredible chance to get what they want.
This phenomenon is called loss aversion in psychology. It is a human bias, and it refers to the tendency of people to be more motivated to avoid a loss than to acquire a gain.
By appealing to that psychological phenomenon and human bias, you will increase your potential customers' chance of taking action.
Things like "don't lose this chance!" or "Only 100 in stock, don't lose yours!" will do the trick.
We would also like to show you a way to make this technique even more powerful: showing that others are already taking advantage of the deal while your readers might not if they don’t hurry.
This is FOMO (fear of missing out). Humans like to avoid losses and miss out on things, but it's even worse if we miss out on something while others don't and get the benefits. This effect is magnified if the pain point is related to a loved one instead of themselves. Pet owners will often give prescribed medications to their pets with extreme precision while ignoring their own medications and health issues.
To create FOMO, you can show or state how many clients have already purchased or claimed your discount. Include phrases that appeal to that fear, such as phrases that send the message that "others are buying and if you are not fast they will get it and you won't". Often people are more fearful that someone else will get it before they do, not that they won’t get it at all. These people are often called “early adopters”.
As we said before, including numbers to increase the specificity of your claims is very powerful. These numbers can also come in the form of statistics, as we previously saw (such as 30% cheaper).
Humans tend to give more credibility and weight to facts that are accompanied and backed by statistics, so providing that information will improve the response of your ads in many cases.
The goal of using statistics is to make the benefits of your product more specific, to increase trust, and increase social proof (such as "99% of our customers are satisfied"). You improve your perceived authoritativeness by backing up your claims with actual data.
"80% of our patients saw significant improvements within just one month."
"90% of them fully recovered in the next six months."
"The psychological method we follow has been proven to have a 86% of effectivity."
The passive voice looks and feels more impersonal and cold. It would hurt your ad copy and make connecting with your potential customers more challenging.
Imagine being told on Valentine’s Day "You are loved." It sounds cold and impersonal. It’s too soulless.
Using the passive voice is a valuable communication strategy when someone wants to hide or diminish the subject's weight in action. (e.g., "your electricity will be shut off," as opposed to "We, the electric company, will shut off your power." Or "Mistakes were made" as opposed to "I made a mistake").
However, when you want to connect with someone, you should do the opposite; you should intensify and increase the subject's weight in that action. You should say "we love our customers" instead of "our customers are loved".
It is also advisable to refer to your customers using the second person (you) in a close and warm tone.
Last, but not least, are your images and designs. In some contexts, the images you will use are everything (such as in Instagram ads). In others, there are no images at all (such as Google search ads).
We recommend you hire a graphic designer with knowledge of UX to create all the images of your ads since they must look as perfect and UX-optimized as possible.
In general, try to abide by the following rules:
Since very long ago, it has been proven that simplicity and clarity are the best principles to abide by when creating designs. The simpler a structure is, the better the user experience and the higher the conversions.
Try not to saturate your designs. Include the least amount of elements possible.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a correctly staged picture worth?
Not only should your images be high resolution, but they should also evoke the correct emotional responses and have a design that prompts the reader to pay attention to your offer.
We’re naturally drawn to the human face. Modern eye tracking on computer systems now gives us insight into the power of images used in advertising. Notice in the image above when the woman’s eye is turned toward the text and product, not only is her eye paid more attention to but the ad copy and product are, as well.
With the baby in the image set below, when the baby’s entire face can be seen, the face gets the majority of the reader’s attention, while the ad copy gets little. But, when the baby looks toward the text, the face gets less attention than both the ad copy and the diapers next to him.
What images you use will determine your success or failure. Sometimes an image can be used as a distraction to force someone to stop and read your copy. It could be a piece of beautiful scenery or something out of the ordinary that grabs someone’s attention.
If the CTA is going to be a part of the image, it should be of a color that makes it stand out in contrast to the rest of the image. Red is usually the preferred one, but it doesn’t always fit with all colors, so this decision is up to your graphic designer.
Remember your CTA should preferably be placed slightly below the middle of the image on the right side.
A/B tests show two different variants of an ad or page to users at random to determine which performs better statistically.
You must A/B test all the possible variations of your ads. You must also monitor your different ads and designs and closely follow which perform best, serve worst, and discard the latter.
A/B testing is at the core of any digital marketing campaign. It is probably one of the most prolonged and most time-consuming parts of the process, but don't worry, most advertising platforms will take care of it in very automated ways.
As you’re learning how to write a Facebook ad, you have to take special care with the images and the ads' visual component since they will be responsible for 75-90% of an ad's performance.
Facebook ads can be displayed in many different locations and formats, all of which have a vital visual component. By preparing a sample of titles, descriptions, and images, the platform will automatically create ads adapted to all of these formats. The destination URL will also be visible for specific ad placements, and it’s possible to add a short description right below it.
Facebook will also allow us to perform very granular segmentation. It’s ideal for reaching specific target audiences and getting people interested in your product or service.
To write Facebook ads that convert, we encourage you to follow these simple tips:
Facebook ads are a great way to reach specific target audiences and get people interested in your product or service.
What are the components of a Facebook ad?
The first step is your first six words in your primary text. If you’re targeting local, your ad should start out with something similar to this: Attention [CITY NAME]”. This is done so that those who see it understand that the ad is local to them. This, like the image, stops them from scrolling. This same technique could also be used for social groups, clubs, organizations, and businesses. Your primary text can only be 125 characters.
Next, understand that the image is what’s going to stop them from scrolling right past your ad. Make sure your image is good and staged properly for the desired result.
The headline directly below the image is exactly what we’ve covered under headlines previously in this article. Follow best practices and you’ll see success. Facebook allows 25 characters for this.
The description below is a very short line that should give the reader more information about your offer or directions on how to obtain it. This is limited to 30 characters.
You have a limited number of actions available to use for your CTA button. Make sure the button matches the intent of your ad.
Stop! Before you do anything with Google Ads, you need to understand keyword intent. Keywords, even though they may seem simple, are very complex. But the way Google’s ad algorithm works is based on keywords. Unlike Facebook and other ad platforms, you have no tracking other than keyword intent.
Let’s go through a couple of examples.
Let’s pretend that you own a yoga studio. It really wouldn’t be wise to target the keyword “yoga” in general. This is what’s known as a “generic keyword”. There is a lot of search volume, but your conversion rate on this keyword is going to be horrible if you’re trying to attract new clients. Targeting the phrase “yoga classes” or “yoga classes near me” will yield much better results because the intent of the keyword is more specific and clear. There are various types of yoga, as well, so you can get even more specific with the keywords. The more specific keywords you target, the higher your conversion rate will be as long as you’ve followed best practices in writing your ad copy.
As an example, “hot yoga” is a specific type of yoga, so the conversion rate will increase when the ad is placed in front of people who like “hot yoga” specifically”.
Now, let’s get to the ads.
To write Google ads, you will have to come up with several headlines (up to 30 characters each) that Google will then combine (showing 3 per ad) to form the ad's title.
The same is true with the descriptions; you will have to develop several (up to 90 characters each). Google will then decide which to show, when, and how to combine them. This type of ad is called responsive search ads, and it is the only type of search ad that Google allows marketers to use as of 2022.
Google ads are only composed of text, and they consist of 5 parts:
To learn how to write Google ads like a pro, we encourage you to follow the following advice:
Linkedin is a perfect platform for B2B and to reach the essential decision-makers.
Linkedin has several ad formats, some of which are very similar to Facebook's. The best practices to follow are the same as with Facebook. To write Linkedin ads, make sure you write a headline that stands out, compelling copy, and use an engaging and friendly image - basically the same that you would do with Facebook. We recommend you use the previously outlined advice for that platform and apply it to Linkedin as well.
One thing to note when writing ads for LinkedIn: scarcity and authority will work best on this platform. You won’t be able to grab someone’s attention with emotional pulls as easily here as you will with the general population on other ad platforms. Establishing authority is paramount to success on LinkedIn.
The character limits are a little bit different from Facebook. As Linkedin itself recommends, your headline should be 70 characters long and your introductory text 150.
Video is known to be more effective than other types of ads. However, it is also more challenging to master, and you should be careful with it. There are more ways to go wrong here than with conventional image and text ads.
In general, to create and write video ad scripts, we recommend you follow the tips and structure below.
You will have around 5 seconds to convince your potential customers not to skip your ad in most video ad formats. This is the case, for instance, with Youtube. The goal of this part is not only to attract users' attention but also to convince them to keep watching the video.
You must get to the point and address your potential customers' needs in those 5 seconds. Say something that connects with their problems. Make sure that what you say and how you say it also attracts their attention, such as by using a loud and energetic tone of voice (so that they go out of auto-pilot and listen to you).
After grabbing the user's attention, you can go with the actual intro, if any. The most effective way is to start off with your promise on what the video will be about, then begin following through with it for the first couple of minutes. Then, add your intro. The intro should be very short; the shorter, the better. If you go over 30 seconds, it’s too long.
Briefly describe the problem and your solution, state who you are, and show social proof (such as including phrases like "what our clients love the most of our product is…").
This is the same as with text ads; after you have addressed the problem and explained it in the intro, mention what the user will get with your product. Will he improve his knowledge of digital marketing? Talk about what he will learn (such as "you will learn how to write video ad scripts, how to set up a video ad campaign…").
Tell what the user should do next. "...Click below and sign up for our free webinar. See you soon!", "..So what are you waiting for? Sign up for our free trial before the offer expires, click below, fill in the info and start to get more clients for your business.."
Context: a psychology clinic looking for patients (customers). Someone with an anxiety disorder is watching a Youtube video about overcoming anxiety, and suddenly the video ad of the clinic shows up.
Pre-intro: we try to convince the user to keep watching our video ad by saying something that connects with the core of his problems and interests and creating curiosity. "There is a way to overcome anxiety you haven't heard of yet," "Suffering anxiety is a hard cross to bear. Fortunately, psychology knows how to cure it, and it can cure it relatively fast. If you want to stop feeling trapped in your over-thinking, worries, and in those uncomfortable, anxious physical sensations, you must know there is a way out…."
Actual intro: we would briefly describe the cause of anxiety in ways by which we also intend to connect with the user ("I know you have already read a lot about anxiety, and you already know it is caused by…"). We will briefly explain who we are. ("We are X, and we have been curing patients with anxiety for more than 20 years"). How we would solve it ("Our method is based on which has a proven efficacy of 99%", or "90% of our patients fully recover in less than six months") and why the user should trust us ("More than 2000 people have overcome their anxiety with our help").
Outline the benefits: The benefits the user dreams about, his real motivation, and what he desires the most is to live without anxiety. The benefits we should list should be related to how his life would look like without anxiety problems ("With our program, you will stop worrying and start living, 1- you will be able to focus without any distracting thoughts, you will be able to study, read or just watch TV in peace 2- you will be able to socialize and enjoy social situations and relationships again ….")
Finish with a call to action: "Click below and fill out the form. We will get in touch with you as soon as possible, and we will help you overcome anxiety together. Don't waste a single second; click below and start to recover your life before anxiety."
The video's narrative should be aligned with the message that we want to transmit. The colors blue and white should predominate (since they will help build trust and calmness), and the tone of voice should be very calm and comforting.
Note: the copies and examples are based on real symptoms and experiences people with certain anxiety disorders have. We have chosen this example to portray the importance of emotions and connect with our potential customers, whom we want to help with our solution.
The steps and principles concerning how to write a 30 second radio ad are the same ones as with video ads. The big difference is that video ads, in general, can be much longer.
To write a 30-second radio ad, apply the principles we mentioned before, but also keep in mind the following points:
With digital video ads, the goal is that the target audience takes action right after they watch the ad. Still, with radio ads, since potential customers will listen to them in contexts in which they cannot take the action we want, the goal is to make them remember our brand and our call to action so they will perform that action later.
Grab the listeners' attention in the first few seconds. Use the same formula as video ads: send a catchy message that connects with your audience.
End with a call to action. However, you should also repeat your call to action several times throughout the content with radio ads. (e.g., "Call now to X phone number and receive a free consulting session").
Repetition is the key to success with radio ads once you have a good copy and a professional voiceover.
We have already given a lot of practical examples of ad copy throughout the article, but let's close with a brief one.
“Your competitors are clicking on your ads and making you lose a lot of money! It's as easy as just clicking; why wouldn’t they?
But that won't happen with ClickCease. With ClickCease, your competitors won’t see your ads. Stop wasting your budget, and start gaining actual leads. Click below and get started. We have a free trial!”
This ad copy is attention-grabbing and addresses one of the audience's concerns/topics of interest. It also uses humor. In less than 5 seconds, both the problem and the solution have been explained. It introduces the benefits and finishes with a Call To Action. It would be even better if the copy presented figures or statistics of how many clicks are fraud and how much ClickCease users could save by using the service.
“Google ads are a potent tool, and many advertisers have chosen to use them to attract leads and clients.
However, even though Google has its fraud detection mechanisms, there are cases in which they might fail. There are cases in which they do not correctly detect fraud, such as when your competitors decide to click on your ads.”
This ad copy does not grab the attention of the reader, "Your competitors are clicking on your ads and making you lose a lot of money!" is a better way to attract attention.
The introduction/first line is entirely irrelevant. Your audience would just probably skip the ad.
Second, it is not clear. It does not explain the main benefits "Stop wasting your budget, and start gaining real leads."
It’s also incomplete because it doesn’t have a Call To Action. If Google already has fraud detection mechanisms, it also confuses the reader. Why should they use ClickCease?
Creating ad copy is a difficult skill to master. It is not as easy as it seems, and it requires checking off many points. It also requires colossal amounts of creativity.
Some people are naturally born with a fantastic talent for creative writing that is better than others. However, even if you are not a gifted ad copywriter, you can still create good copy that converts by using simple formulas. By following all the advice we have given, you will be able to create very functional ad copy.
Make sure you follow all the ad copywriting tips we have given, and pay great attention to every little detail.
And, of course, practice makes perfect.
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