How To Write Better Ads: The Forgotten Fundamental
Focussing on quick & immediate results is an important but toxic trait that us digital marketers seem to allocate too much of our brain budget too. In a world where everything is on demand, and patience is thin, we so often have to deliver the unimaginable in what feels like nanoseconds.
While we’ve honed our craft, and have a proven track record of pulling off these digital ad miracles, we rarely take a step back and self-analyse our own methods & question beyond the surface. To truly remain an agile marketer we need to dig deeper and not just be questioning things like how we optimise, or what campaigns we’re using, but also our fundamental beliefs as marketers.
One of the absolute key aspects of our marketing efforts, that is often not prioritised, is ad copy.
Although it sounds ridiculous, we know. You might be thinking, “what do you mean, I write ads everyday!”, but we all write ads everyday, and yet so many people don’t prioritise the quality of the copy. Ad copy is so often treated as the means to an end, rather than being given the proper time and testing it needs to deliver. So our PPC specialists are here to deliver you ten hot tips, fresh out the oven, to ensure your ad is as tasty as it can be to potential customers.
Adapt to the Platform
Each platform has its own requirements, policies, and best practices. These things are in place for a reason, and no matter how much you don’t like all words being capitalised on Google, or having copy cut off by the ‘see more’ on Facebook, these are realities of the platforms we’re working with.
Ads that don’t follow these guidelines will suffer from reduced performance, or they’ll be disapproved. So decide on what you want to achieve and adapt to the platform, otherwise you’re just like the kid in preschool trying to fit the triangle into the circle hole… and that’s just embarrassing!
Stand Out From The Crowd
Don’t be afraid to innovate and take risks. The ones who experience the best results are the ones who stand out. If you settle for mediocre ideas, you’ll receive mediocre results.
Try something different, go against advice to trial something yourself, and think about new ways to use the same format.
Some simple things you can do to help your ad stand out is using symbols, numbers, statistics, questions, emojis, using impact words and breaking format. Look at what your competitors are doing, and try doing the opposite. Get on that one-way train to innovation station right now!
Speak to the Problem
Marketing is simple, we’re communicating a solution to the consumer’s problem. If this is the objective of marketing, then this is the objective of your ad.
Spend the time getting to know your target market, understand how they search, browse, and how they speak. Familiarise yourself with their specific problems, and concoct an ad that speaks directly to them. I know I’ve spoiled your good time, but it really doesn’t matter what you want to say, unless it is what your consumer wants to hear. Create copy that is loudly and unashamedly helpful, and make sure it isn’t falling on deaf ears.
Keep Things Focussed
Oh god, do I really have to repeat the age old saying… Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Majority of ad platforms have limitations. Unfortunately, QBD Books is not asking you to produce the next New York Times Best Selling novel, so decide what you are trying to achieve with your ad and keep it concise and focussed.
If you are confused about the focus of your ad, then the consumer will be twice as confused. If the goal is to get enquiries, communicate value and add “Enquire Now”. If your goal is competition entries, prioritise instructions, and tell people how to enter. We don’t have the characters and consumer’s don’t have the patience to cut through your fluff. So decide your focus, choose your main relevant USP’s, and make it sound nice. Your other ideas can be tested... separately!
Prioritise Your Words
Words are important and powerful things, and you absolutely should be following your brand guidelines and voice when choosing the correct ones for your ad. However, when waging the war of character limits, don’t lose because you chose to fight over semantics.
Make sure you have a clear understanding prior to writing your ads which words are off-limits, and which are priority. Now figure out what you are trying to communicate in your ad, and get writing. If the ad goes over the character limit, adjust the wording that isn’t on your off-limits or priority lists. You can use different words to communicate the exact same message, even if it isn’t as flowery. The only winner here, is the one who creates a well written ad under the limits.
Relevance is Key
Not only is your ad’s success determined on a technical level by its relevance, but it’s a basic expectation from the consumer. We hear a lot from the general public about their dislike for online ads, and that this generally results in the installation of some kind of ad blocker.
The thing is, If people are seeing ads that are relevant to them then they’re no longer annoyed by them, but instead feel they’re receiving value. This reputation of digital advertising being a pest is perpetuated by badly targeted & badly written ads. It’s the equivalent of that one annoying student who gets the whole class kept back through lunch.
Make sure that your ad is targeted to the correct people, in the correct places, and you are speaking to them in the correct way. Use keywords in your ads and connect the ad to a relevant landing page. On some platforms you just need to trial different messaging, because relevance score is directly related to user response.
Headlines That Get To The Point
80% of people don’t make it past the headline of your ad, according to Copyblogger. Similar behaviour has been found for blogs and news articles, where most people won’t actually read more than the title before sharing.
This doesn’t mean your ad description copy is useless and a waste of time, but what it does mean is some of the previous tips are particularly important when writing your headlines. You truly do not have many characters to play with for an ad headline, so you have to make every single one count, while still standing out.
Try leading with a number, or asking a question. Experiment with dynamic elements, personalisation, or breaking format. Be concise and to the point about what you’re selling, and be different. Some old faithful tactics like adding urgency, leading with a promotion, or peaking curiosity will also help.
In Numbers We Trust
A common issue we face in an agency setting is a steadfast, impenetrable shield built up of preconceived ideas of who the target market is & what works or doesn’t work. This is up there with one of the most harmful things a business can do to themselves, as this is often based on a gut-feeling or anecdotal experience, rather than numbers. Unfortunately, if we want good numbers coming out of digital ads, we need good numbers going in… unless you’re happy for a results report based on a gut-feeling too!
Ditch what you think you know, even if you are the greatest advertiser on the planet, and only fight to the death for things you can back up with numbers. Take your learned experience and test it alongside new ideas. You’ll often find that your best performing audience isn’t who you think.
Your business isn’t defined by you, it’s defined by the consumer!
If there is one thing that you need to schedule time in immediately to do, if you aren’t already, is testing.
The online landscape is constantly changing. We see public opinion on topics change in the blink of an eye online, and we see digital businesses take off in a flash. On what planet do we think it’s okay to build an ad and leave it as is in such a fast moving landscape?
Do not think creating digital ads is a set and forget activity unless you are willing to waste your money. Build your ad, and then create others to A/B test against it (this is non-negotiable). Then once these ads have been running for a month, analyse performance, take your favourite child and clone it. Take that clone, and change something small about it. Change ‘now’ to ‘today’, change a statement to a question, add more personality into the headline, or take a more sales-y approach. Just because it’s not your ideal choice for an ad, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test it.
Testing never stops, and if you’re reading this blog and you don’t have ad tests running from this day forward, we will personally haunt you… boo!
Phone a Friend
The tip to trump all tips, yet the simplest one of the bunch… just ask someone else to read your ad.
You’ve been spending 2 hours building campaigns, changing wording of a single ad for the past 30 minutes, and fork doesn’t even sound like a real word anymore. Don’t be silly & precious of your work. Writing isn’t an ego-filled activity, and you’ll be more proud of conversions than you will an ad.
Don’t tell your colleague who the ad is for, what it is selling, or what you were trying to achieve. Get their organic feedback, then fill them in on the details. Take their feedback on board, adjust the ad accordingly and you already have a better ad. Always get a second opinion.
Copy-writing is an undervalued skill, that has more power than people think, and can be worked on like any other muscle. At Klyp, we like to have short copy-focussed brainstorms where we bounce ideas off of eachother to create the best and tightest ad possible, along with some ideas for testing. If you feel copy isn’t your strength then lean on a teammate, or if you find you get carried away with fluffy language, ask someone to cull the ad down.
A digital campaign is only as good as the ad you create. So represent your incredible work with a showstopping, one-of-a-kind and klyp-approved digital ad.