Ad Copy Must-Haves That Make or Break a PPC Campaign

by Dan Slagen

Date

January 19, 2012 at 7:00 PM

ad copyWriting ad copy isn’t sexy. Typically done using a program like Excel (boring), it’s easy to just go through the motions and write copy that “will do.” While almost any ad copy you write will probably be okay, that kind of mediocrity won’t help you stand out and get the kind of performance you expect out of your paid search campaigns. Remember, your ad is competing with 10 other paid ads, as well as organic listings.

So if you're trying to up your game and create amazingly effective ad copy, make sure it always includes these 3 vital elements:

  • Value - Why is your offer relevant and valuable to your audience?
  • Offer - What exactly are you presenting to your audience?
  • Proposition - What are you asking your audience to do?            

Let's take a hypothetical example -- marketing a diet soft drink via paid ads to either a mother or a recent college graduate -- to demonstrate how each of these three elements should be executed. Then we can take a look at some examples of how real paid ads are successfully using these techniques in their campaigns.

Vital Element #1: Value

With a product like a diet soft drink, the angle to mothers may be that it’s part of a healthy lifestyle for not only their kids, but for themselves. For college grads still working off the freshman 15, on the other hand, the value may be that it has fewer calories. If they're already living a lifestyle of beer and ramen noodles, every little bit helps, right?

value in paid search copy

Real Life Example: Above, Reebok has done a nice job of "timing" its ad with the transition to the New Year. The "value" of running with Reebok is to reinvent yourself this New Year. That's the value you're going to get by running with Reebok ... a new you! Consider all of the implications that come with that copy: being healthier, having a better body, being happier, etc. The reader is now considering themselves in Reebok shoes, not just running shoes.

Vital Element #2: Offer

The offer of your ad needs to answer one question: What are you selling? Our hypothetical offer is a diet soft drink; easy enough, right? But in these days of differentiation, anything you can add to make your offer more unique will draw eyes away from other ads and onto yours. Does your soft drink have fewer calories? Use recycled plastic? Is it cheaper? The more you can set yourself apart, the better.

offer in paid ad copy

Real Life Application: After searching for "Boston sweatshirts," this ad appeared, and does an effective job of highlighting a clear offer. The ad clearly states that Bostonshirtoutfitter.com is offering Boston sweatshirts at 20% off, along with free shipping for orders that are over $50. That's a perfectly relevant and enticing offer for Boston sweatshirts, which was exactly what I was looking for. Case closed.

Vital Element #3: Proposition

What is your ad asking your audience to do? What is the call-to-action? Why should your audience respond, and furthermore, why should they respond now? For busy mothers, an urgent call-to-action may be "Free Delivery This Week Only," while for college grads it could be "25% Off This Tuesday." Whatever the connection is, get your audience to act now, because in a few seconds they will have found something else to look at besides you.

proposition in paid ad copy

Real Life Application: Heavenly Resort does a great job of ensuring that its call-to-action is unique and only web-based. The ad calls out that if you're looking for the guaranteed lowest price, you'll only find it online, so you should act now. Exclusivity and urgency generates clicks.

All Vital Elements in One

Truth be told, it was exceptionally difficult to find examples of ads that utilized all three of these elements -- value, offer, and proposition -- in their ad copy. But Reebok came the closest, so to show you what perfectly optimized ad copy would look like, we've tweaked its ad just a touch to demonstrate what effective ad copy looks like.

effective ad copyFollowing these principles when drafting your ad copy will ensure your ads are relevant and compelling to your target audience. Remember that when users are searching on Google, they are also doing other things, like checking text messages, worrying about what to make for dinner, or planning a date night. This means that you have just a few short seconds to capture their attention and elicit a response. Ads that speak directly to target segments and produce an “a-ha!” self-identification moment will be the ones that get clicked and ultimately drive conversions.

How big of a role does ad copy play in the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns?

Image credit: Keith Williamson

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