Writing Irresistible Ad Copy

As a naïve young man I was shocked that there existed, somewhere, actual human beings that would click the sponsored links at the top and sides of the SERP.  These links are clearly paid advertisements and as such, I had no reason to click them — so why would anyone else?  Imagine my shock then, when I learned that Google was generating billions in revenue every quarter from these same sponsored ads!

I was intrigued, and after receiving AdWords certification I set about hastily building an e-commerce website for the sole purpose of determining exactly who is clicking my ads, and why they are doing it.  Two days later I experienced a feeling that still, to this day sends waves of happiness through me: my first conversion in a fresh campaign.  I then became addicted to writing and testing ad copy.

Between then and now, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients across verticals ranging from local moving companies to covenants of (surprisingly tech-savvy) monks selling hand crafted caskets.  In the sea of variables that is SEM, there is one shining constant in every good campaign: ad copy that begs to be clicked by the right person.  Follow the suggestions below and run tests vs. your current ads – you’ll be pleased!

Experiment with Non-traditional Ad Copy.

Consider the following two ads:

While following brand guidelines always comes first, experimentation is a powerful way to boost CTR & conversion while generating buzz.  This works particularly well in crowded markets with near-identical services or products, regardless of the brand (e.g. A/C repair, window washing and pest control).

A 2 month test of the above ad across 22 HVAC companies in various markets yielded a 24% boost in CTR and 10% in conversion rate when compared to traditional copy.

Appeal to (primal) Human Emotions

Nobody wants to admit that they can become greedy, envious, jealous or scared, but millions of years of evolution have bestowed these emotions upon us for better or worse.  It’s no secret that advertisers have used an appeal to fear or embarrassment to sell products like deodorant and weight loss pills.  Conversely, advertisers can use fear to influence viewers to avoid buying or using other products: consider the frightening faces shown on anti-meth billboards.

Emotional appeal is a powerful weapon at your disposal, but needs to be used wisely – ads that offend will not convert.   The following are examples that attempt to evoke emotion to facilitate a sale:

Use Symbols™

There are a wide variety of symbols you can use to spruce up your ad, grab attention or save space: ampersand, plus sign and dash come to mind.  However, there are 3 symbols I have found to have a profound effect on ads when used properly:

1.   ™ = unregistered trademark used to promote or brand goods.  Keyboard Shortcut Alt + 0153.

2.   ® = registered trademark.  This must only be used for trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Keyboard shortcut Alt + 0174.

If you are running a brand campaign, you need to be using the appropriate trademark symbol.  These symbols reinforce the professional, established nature of a business and have reliably increased CTR whenever they have been tested and used appropriately.

Exclude Visitors Before they Click!


Every campaign should have a healthy list of negatives, though a 2ndexclusionary step can be performed at the ad copy level, when implemented properly.  Below are two examples of how you can exclude non-ideal traffic via ad copy:

1.       Local businesses should always enable location extensions or have cross-street information in the ad copy – this will dissuade visitors from clicking if they are not within the service area.

2.       If your service or product is the lowest-priced in town, certainly let it be known!  However, if you are offering something that is high quality or premium-priced, don’t be afraid to state the facts.

Next time you sit down to write copy, take a moment to reflect on the type of person that might see it — consider their drive and emotional needs.  From here, make your ad copy stand out, and craft a message you know will appeal to your target audience.  Most importantly, never stop testing your ad copy and continue to chase perfection.



Priya Kapoor About the author
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