Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve been captivated by ad copy. Maybe it was a catchy slogan or a clever tagline, but whatever it was, it made you stop and take notice. As a business owner, writing effective advertising copy is crucial for attracting and retaining customers. In today’s digital world, consumers are bombarded with ads everywhere they turn, so you need to make sure your copy stands out from the rest.
So, how do you write ad copy that resonates? In this blog, we will cover the basics of compelling ad copy and real-world tips that you can utilize while writing advertising copy. By the end of this blog, you’ll feel confidence in writing ad copy that not just informs but inspires, not just persuades but connects, and ultimately drives conversions.
What is Ad Copy?
Ad copy is the text used in advertisements to persuade, inform, and entice potential customers to take action. It can be found in various forms such as social media ads, online banner ads, print ads, and even radio or TV commercials.
The goal of ad copy is to grab the attention of your target audience and convince them to engage with your product or service – but it doesn’t stop there. Great ad copy is also about creating a connection with your audience and building brand awareness.
The Basics of Writing Advertising Copy
Just like any form of writing, creating effective ad copy requires a solid understanding of the basics. While there are no hard and fast rules for writing ad copy, there are some key elements to keep in mind:
Start with Competitor Research
One of the key steps to writing great ad copy is conducting thorough competitor research. This means analyzing what your competitors are doing and identifying opportunities for improvement or differentiation in your own ads. By understanding what others in your industry are doing, you can create unique and attention-grabbing copy that sets you apart.
Competitor research may include:
- Analyze Competitor Messaging: Start by examining the core messages of your competitors. What are the key themes, benefits, and features they highlight in their advertising? Look at the language they use. Is it formal or casual? Do they use emotional appeals or stick to facts and figures? Understanding their messaging approach gives you insights into what resonates with your target market. If you’d like to go into this more in depth, consider checking out our blog on PPC competitor analysis.
- Assess Their Visual and Content Styles: Pay attention to the visual elements your competitors use in their ads. What kind of imagery, color schemes, and graphic styles are they employing? Similarly, analyze their content style. Are they using storytelling, humor, or straight-to-the-point facts? This analysis will help you understand the aesthetic and content preferences of your audience.
- Evaluate Their Engagement Tactics: Observe how your competitors engage with their audience. What kind of calls to action do they use? How are they prompting responses or interactions? Look at their social media platforms to see what type of posts generate the most engagement. This can reveal what kind of content your audience finds most compelling.
- Monitor Their Customer Feedback: Customer reviews and feedback on your competitors’ products or services can be a goldmine of information. What are customers praising or complaining about? This feedback can provide direct insight into what your potential customers value or dislike, allowing you to tailor your copy to address these areas more effectively.
- Analyze Their SEO and Keywords Strategy: Understanding the keywords and SEO strategies your competitors are using can offer significant advantages. Tools like Semrush or Ahrefs can help you see which keywords they are targeting in their PPC campaigns or organic content. This knowledge can inform your own SEO strategy for both your website content and ad copy.
- Identify Gaps and Opportunities: The main goal of competitor research is to identify gaps in your competitors’ strategies where your brand can excel. Perhaps there’s an underserved audience segment, a benefit they aren’t highlighting, or a storytelling angle they haven’t explored. These gaps are opportunities for your brand to differentiate and shine.
- Keep an Eye on Trends: Finally, competitor research involves staying abreast of industry trends. Are your competitors adopting new technologies or platforms? How are they adapting to changing market conditions? This will help you anticipate shifts in the market and adapt your strategies accordingly.
Understand Your Audience
There’s nothing more important in digital marketing as a whole than knowing and understanding your target audience. We’ve found that by focusing on your target audience, you not only enhance the relevance of your message but also elevate the overall impact of your advertising efforts. Let’s take a look at how you can hone in on your target audience:
- Know Your Audience: The first step in understanding your audience is to delve deeply into who they are. This involves more than just demographics; it’s about getting to the heart of their desires, challenges, and motivations. What are their interests? What keeps them up at night? What do they value in a product or service? This information can be gathered through market research, social media engagement, surveys, and customer feedback. The goal is to create a detailed customer persona that guides your copywriting process.
- Identify Their Core Problems: Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, the next step is to identify the problems they are facing. These could range from practical issues, like needing time-saving solutions, to emotional needs, such as seeking a sense of belonging. Your advertising copy should speak directly to these problems, making it clear that you not only understand them but also empathize with them. This step involves actively listening to customer feedback, analyzing market trends for your target audience, engaging in community discussions, and monitoring social media sentiments.
- Show How Your Product or Service Provides a Solution: After identifying your audience’s problems, your advertising copy should seamlessly transition into how your product or service provides the solution. This is where your messaging shifts from empathy to empowerment. Your copy should articulate the benefits of your offering in a way that resonates with the audience’s needs. It’s about showing them that your product or service can alleviate their pain points and enhance their life in a meaningful way.
- Align Benefits with Audience Desires: When discussing your product’s benefits, it’s crucial to align them with what your audience genuinely desires. This alignment ensures that your message doesn’t just talk at your audience but talks to them. If your audience values convenience, highlight how your product saves time. If they seek reliability, emphasize your product’s dependability. It’s about making your audience see your product or service as the key to solving their specific problems.
- Use Their Language: To truly connect with your audience, your copy should reflect their language and tone. This means using words and phrases they are familiar with and avoiding jargon that might alienate them. It’s about creating a sense of familiarity and trust through your words.
- Validate Their Problem: In your copy, acknowledge the challenges your audience faces. This validation builds a rapport and shows that you’re not just selling a product or service; you’re offering a solution to make their life better. It’s about establishing a relationship based on understanding and support.
Familiarize Yourself With the Advertising Platform
Whether it’s a Facebook ad or Google Ads, familiarizing yourself with the advertising platform you’re using is crucial for successful copywriting. Each platform has its own nuances and features, so taking the time to understand them can make a big difference in how your copy performs. Let’s look deeper on things that you should consider when writing online ads:
- Know the Character Limits: Different platforms have varying character limits for ad copy. For instance, Twitter’s limit stands at 280 characters, while Facebook allows more leeway. Respecting these limits is essential to convey your message concisely without being cut off.
- Understand the Advertising Guidelines: Each platform has its specific set of advertising guidelines. These can include rules about the content of your ad, such as restrictions on language, images, and the portrayal of certain products or services. Ignoring these guidelines can lead to your ad being rejected or penalized.
- Align With the Platform’s Format: Understanding whether a platform is more conducive to image-based, video-based, or text-oriented ads is key. For example, Instagram ads thrive on compelling visuals and short text, while LinkedIn ads may benefit from a more professional tone and detailed text.
- Optimize for the Platform: Tailor your ad copy and creative elements for each platform. What works on Facebook may not resonate on LinkedIn or Instagram. This customization involves not just the text but also the imagery, video style, and overall tone of the ad.
Stay Updated with Changes: Advertising platforms often update their guidelines and features. Stay informed about these changes to leverage new tools and formats effectively, ensuring your ads remain relevant and impactful.
In the realm of digital advertising, the headline-description-CTA format is a powerful structure that guides the reader seamlessly from initial engagement to taking action. Here’s what most ads should include:
- Headline: This is your first and crucial opportunity to capture attention. Your headline should be compelling, clear, and concise, setting the tone and expectation for what follows. It’s the hook that draws your audience in.
- Description: Following the headline, the description elaborates on the promise or value proposition introduced. This is where you provide more details about the product or service, highlighting benefits and addressing potential pain points of the audience. The description should build on the interest generated by the headline.
- CTA (Call to Action): The final and vital component is the CTA, which should be direct and action-oriented, guiding the reader on what to do next – whether it’s to sign up, learn more, or make a purchase. A clear CTA can significantly increase the chances of converting interest into action.
Understanding FTC Guidelines
Navigating the advertising world also demands a thorough understanding of legal guidelines, particularly those set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States. Compliance with FTC guidelines is not just a legal obligation but a commitment to ethical marketing practices. Here are some things you should consider:
- Truthfulness and Non-Deception: Ads must be truthful and not misleading. This includes making sure that any claims can be substantiated, especially those concerning health, safety, or performance.
- Disclosure Requirements: If there are any endorsements or testimonials in your ad, they must be accompanied by disclosures if there’s any relationship between the endorser and the product/service provider that might affect how people perceive the endorsement.
- Privacy and Data Protection: Advertisers must respect consumer privacy and adhere to data protection laws. This includes how you collect, use, and store consumer data.
- Special Considerations for Certain Markets: Certain products or services, such as those targeting children or offering health-related benefits, have additional regulations and guidelines to consider.
Adhering to these guidelines not only keeps your advertising legally compliant but also builds trust with your audience.
20 Tips for Writing Advertising Copy
Making sure your advertising copy is effective and impactful is crucial for the success of your campaign. Here are 20 tips to help you write compelling copy that resonates with your target audience:
1. Start with a Compelling Headline
Your headline is the gateway to your advertisement, setting the stage for the reader’s journey. It should be intriguing, yet clear, offering a snapshot of what to expect. A well-crafted headline can make the difference between an ad that’s overlooked and one that captivates attention. Think of your headline as the striking cover of a book, inviting the audience to open and read more.
Great headlines can relate to pop culture, ask a question or opinion, address a very specific problem, tell a joke, or just be plain witty. Some examples we like include this Aston Martin ad that plays on humor:
Source: Aston Martin
We also love this compelling headline:
Source: Native Deodorant
As you can see, the possibilities for crafting an attention-grabbing headline are endless. However, it’s important to remember to stay true to your brand and target audience. Your headline should reflect the tone and message of your ad while still being unique and eye-catching.
2. Use Power Words
Power words are emotionally charged and action-oriented, designed to trigger a response. Words like ‘revolutionary’, ‘exclusive’, ‘discover’, and ‘unlock’ can create a sense of excitement and urgency. They make your copy more persuasive and impactful, driving the reader towards the action you desire. These words tap into the emotional psyche of the audience, making your message more compelling.
3. Keep it Short and to the Point
In the digital age, attention spans are short, so your ad copy needs to be concise. Get to the point quickly but effectively, ensuring your message is understood at a glance. This doesn’t mean sacrificing creativity or depth; rather, it’s about being clear and direct. Brevity ensures that your key message is delivered without losing the reader’s interest.
4. Speak Directly to Your Audience
Personalize your ad copy by addressing the reader directly using ‘you’ and ‘your’. This approach creates a personal connection and makes the message more relatable. Speaking directly to your audience transforms your copy from general information to a personal conversation. It makes the reader feel seen and understood, increasing the relevance of your message.
5. Avoid Using Clickbait
While tempting, clickbait can erode trust and damage your brand’s credibility. Ensure that your headlines and content are honest and reflective of the actual value or proposition you are offering.
And while clickbait is different from click bots, it is important to monitor them both. You can gain a deeper understanding of this challenge and how to safeguard your campaigns in our article click bots and how to stop them.
6. Use Social Proof
Incorporate elements like testimonials, endorsements, and user statistics to build credibility. Social proof leverages the power of community and trust, showing that others have had positive experiences with your brand. It acts as evidence of your product’s value and effectiveness, encouraging new customers to trust and try your offerings. Real stories and data can significantly enhance the persuasiveness of your ad copy.
7. Be Empathetic
Show that you understand and care about your audience’s challenges and aspirations. Empathetic copywriting builds a deeper connection with your audience, making your brand more relatable and trustworthy. You can do this by telling a personal story or calling out specific pain points that your target audience may be experiencing. By showing empathy, you can create a sense of understanding and validation for your potential customers.
It’s about showing that you’re not just selling a product but offering a solution that improves their lives. Empathy in advertising demonstrates that you value your customers beyond just their purchasing power.
8. Use Keywords
Integrate relevant keywords naturally into your ad copy. This improves not just SEO, but also ensures that your copy resonates with the language and terms your audience uses. To further enhance your understanding of keywords in the digital advertising realm, especially in PPC campaigns, explore our insightful guide on mastering PPC advertising.
9. Use FOMO to Your Advantage
The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a powerful psychological trigger, and leveraging it can drive quick action. Create a sense of urgency or exclusivity in your copy to prompt immediate responses, such as limited-time offers or exclusive deals. This technique makes your audience feel they might miss out on something great, increasing the likelihood of engagement. Craft your message to suggest that acting now is essential for gaining these exclusive benefits. This can be done by offering discount codes for set time frames, including timers, and offering limited edition and seasonal products/offers.
10. Start with a Question
Opening with a question immediately engages the reader’s mind and draws them into your narrative. A well-posed question can pique curiosity or resonate with common pain points, making the reader more invested in finding the solution. Questions can be rhetorical or direct but should always be relevant to the audience’s interests or needs. This approach transforms your ad from a statement into an interactive dialogue.
11. Word Mirror
Reflecting your audience’s language and style in your ad copy creates a sense of familiarity and authenticity. This technique involves using phrases, terms, and a tone that your audience commonly uses, making your message more relatable. It’s about echoing their voice in your copy, which can significantly increase the connection they feel with your brand. Word mirroring can be especially effective in industries with unique jargon or subcultures.
12. Use Numbers and Statistics
Incorporating data or statistics into your ad copy adds credibility and specificity. Numbers provide concrete evidence of your claims, making your message more persuasive and trustworthy. They can be used to highlight the effectiveness of a product, the scale of a problem, or the popularity of a solution. Quantifiable data simplifies complex information, making it easier for the audience to grasp and remember.
13. Include Benefits and Features
Clearly articulate both the benefits and features of your product or service. While features describe what your product is or does, benefits explain how it improves the user’s life. Your ad copy should balance both, ensuring the audience understands what you offer and why it matters to them. This dual approach addresses both logical and emotional aspects of decision-making.
14. Speak to the Audience’s Ego
Craft your message to appeal to the ego, aspirations, and self-image of your target audience. Make them feel that choosing your product or service will enhance their lifestyle, status, or self-esteem. This approach is about tapping into their desire to better themselves or their situation. It’s about positioning your product as not just a choice but an improvement to their identity.
15. The Six-Word Story
A “six-word story” is a tool that you can use to write compelling advertising copy.
Challenge yourself to convey your message in just six words. This exercise in brevity forces you to distill your message to its essence, making it more impactful and memorable. The six-word story should encapsulate your value proposition in a compelling, concise manner. It’s a creative way to capture the heart of your message and leave a lasting impression.
16. Appeal to the Five Senses
Using descriptive language that appeals to the senses makes your ad more vivid and immersive. Sensory words create a mental picture, helping the audience to see, hear, feel, taste, or smell the experience your product offers. This technique makes your ad more engaging and memorable, enhancing the emotional connection with your audience. It turns your copy from being just read to being experienced.
17. Use Compelling Visuals (When Possible)
Visuals can significantly enhance the impact of your ad copy. They should complement the text, reinforcing the message and making it more engaging. Whether it’s an image, infographic, or video, the visual element should be high-quality and relevant to the copy. A harmonious blend of visuals and text makes your ad more appealing and effective.
If you can, use original photography and graphics! Using stock photography can come off as impersonal and consumers can spot it from a mile away these days.
Incorporating emojis can add personality and emotional tone to your ad copy, especially on social media. They should be used judiciously to enhance the message without overpowering the text. Emojis can make your copy more relatable and visually appealing, but they should align with your brand voice and the platform’s tone. It’s about adding a touch of modern expressiveness to your message.
19. Include a CTA
A clear and compelling Call to Action (CTA) is crucial for guiding the audience on what to do next. The CTA should be direct, actionable, and aligned with the objective of your ad. Whether it’s encouraging a purchase, a sign-up, or more information, the CTA is your nudge to the audience to take the desired action. It transforms interest into action.
20. A/B Testing
Regularly test different versions of your ad copy to see what resonates best with your audience. A/B testing is a crucial tool for continually refining and improving your advertising strategy. For a comprehensive understanding of cost-effective ad strategies, especially in PPC, you might find our article on advertising on Google highly beneficial.
Writing Social Media Ad Copy
With 4.88 billion people globally engaged on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, the potential reach is enormous, but so is the competition. Your ad is vying for attention amidst a sea of other content – from other ads and viral memes to personal life updates.
Here are key strategies for writing effective social media ad copy:
- Be Entertaining and Stand Out: Since most social media users are looking for entertainment, your ad copy should be engaging and memorable. It should stand out in a feed filled with captivating content. Take inspiration from Ruggable and Morris & Co’s collaboration, which used the succinct yet striking line, “Intricately Decorative. Simply Washable.” to highlight their unique value proposition.
- Brevity is Key: Social media users scroll quickly, so your message needs to be concise. The Ruggable and Morris & Co. ad efficiently communicates the core benefit of their product in just four words, paired effectively with an engaging visual.
- Clear Call to Action: Ensure your ad has a clear CTA, like “Shop Now”, guiding users on what to do next. A compelling CTA can be the difference between a user engaging with your ad or scrolling past it.
In social media advertising, the blend of brevity, wit, and clear messaging is vital. Your copy should not only inform but also delight, enticing users to pause, engage, and ultimately, convert.
Writing Display Ad Copy
Display ads, an integral component of digital marketing, are visual advertisements found on websites, apps, and social media platforms. Combining elements like text, imagery, video, and sometimes audio, they are designed to capture user attention in a visually crowded space.
Here’s an example:
This ad exemplifies the effectiveness of clear, concise messaging paired with relevant visuals. Display ads, including banner ads, vary in size and format, demanding adaptability in copy depending on their placement and the device they’re viewed on.
Despite the available space, the goal is to communicate a singular, compelling message swiftly. In creating display ad copy, focus on delivering your product’s core information in an easily digestible format. Direct viewers to a landing page for more details, ensuring the ad remains visually appealing and effectively communicative.
Writing Paid Search Ad Copy
Whether you know it or not, you’ve definitely seen paid search ad copy. People usually recognize it as the ad section that pops up after a Google search, like this:
These succinct, keyword-driven ads, key in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, demand strategic crafting for maximum impact. The essential elements of search ad copy include the display URL, which is the visible website link guiding users to their destination, and the headline, integrating the target keyword and capturing the essence of your message within a 30-character limit.
The description allows up to 90 characters to detail benefits and expectations, providing more context to the headline. Incorporating keywords into both the headline and description is crucial. The headline must be engaging and relevant, while the description should concisely convey benefits and unique selling points.
A clear call to action is essential, directing users on next steps, such as downloading an app or visiting a webpage. Writing paid search ad copy involves balancing brevity, relevance, and strategic keyword use, ensuring every word contributes to capturing user interest and encouraging action.
Writing Video Ad Copy
Video ads, popular on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, offer a canvas for creativity and engagement through a blend of text, visuals, and interactivity. The ad copy, often in script or caption form, plays a pivotal role in narrating the story or message of the video.
The key to successful video ad copy lies in its ability to align with the ad’s function – whether attracting new customers, introducing products, or re-engaging past audiences. While maintaining succinctness, the copy should resonate with the target audience, often leveraging popular search terms for relevance.
Clear calls to action are crucial, guiding viewers toward the next step seamlessly within the video’s narrative framework.
3 Great Ad Copy Examples
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at some examples of effective ad copy. These ads showcase how cleverly crafted words can enhance the impact and success of a marketing campaign:
1. “Belong Anywhere”- Airbnb
Airbnb’s slogan “Belong Anywhere” communicates a sense of inclusion and adventure, appealing to travelers seeking authentic experiences. The ad copy is emotionally resonant and aligns with the brand’s mission of making everyone feel at home, anywhere in the world.
2. “Dream Crazy”- Nike
Nike’s “Dream Crazy” ad featuring Colin Kaepernick is a striking example of powerful ad copy that resonates deeply with a wide audience. Launched in 2018 as part of Nike’s “Just Do It” 30th-anniversary campaign, the ad features Kaepernick with the tagline, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
The ad copy is profound and evocative, reflecting the personal and professional sacrifices Kaepernick made when he chose to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality in America. The phrase “Believe in something” emphasizes conviction and the courage to stand up for one’s beliefs, while “Even if it means sacrificing everything” acknowledges the potential consequences of such actions.
The video ad that accompanied the text was equally powerful and eventually went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial.
3. “Designed to be Deleted”- Hinge
The Hinge “Designed to be Deleted.” ad campaign is a clever and memorable example of ad copy that effectively communicates the unique selling proposition of the dating app. This slogan stands out in the crowded online dating market by positioning Hinge not just as a means to meet people, but as a tool for finding genuine, lasting connections.
The second part, of this ad copy “Delete Hinge,” reinforces this message in a bold and unconventional way. By inviting users to delete the app once they’ve found love, Hinge differentiates itself from competitors. This part of the slogan is particularly effective because it’s counterintuitive – most apps want users to stay, but Hinge declares its success when users leave, indicating the fulfillment of their promise.
Mastering the art of ad copywriting is all about understanding your audience and crafting a message that resonates with them. The key is to balance creativity with clarity, ensuring that your message is not only heard but felt. It’s about crafting a narrative that not only sells but also tells a story that aligns with your audience’s values and aspirations. From Nike’s empowering slogans to Hinge’s clever positioning and Spotify’s intuitive understanding of its users, these examples illustrate the power of well-crafted ad copy in connecting with audiences on a deeper level.
The principles of clear messaging, audience understanding, and platform-specific strategies remain and will continue to remain central. By adhering to these guidelines and continuously refining our approach based on audience feedback and market trends, we can create ad copy that not only captures attention but also fosters meaningful connections and drives results. Good luck!
Read our blog on local PPC next for more targeted insights.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I start writing an ad copy?
You can start by identifying your target audience and understanding their values, aspirations, and pain points. This will help you craft a message that resonates with them on a personal level. Researching your competition and understanding what sets your product or service apart can also give you inspiration for your ad copy. Then, use persuasive language and a clear call to action to drive action from your audience.
How do I practice writing ad copy?
You can practice writing ad copy by creating mock campaigns for fictional products or services. This will give you a chance to experiment with different messaging and see what works best. Additionally, you can analyze successful ads from your competitors and try to understand why they are effective. Finally, practice makes perfect, so keep writing and refining your ad copy skills.
What are the guidelines for writing ad copy?
There are a few guidelines to keep in mind when writing ad copy. First, be clear and concise – you only have a limited amount of space to capture your audience’s attention, so make every word count. Next, use persuasive language that speaks directly to your target audience and highlights the benefits or unique selling points of your product or service.
Also, don’t forget to include a call-to-action that prompts your audience to take action, whether it’s clicking on a link or making a purchase. Finally, make sure to follow any specific branding guidelines or style requirements set by the platform you’ll be advertising on.