Ad copy is a very important element in online advertising, but it’s often “set and forget” — once written, advertisers move on to newer and/or sexier strategies and tactics.
Ad copy is often one of the first areas I focus on to boost advertising efficiency. And, if I focus on iterating ads, I can often continue to improve ad performance. In this article, I’ll suggest some elements you can use to put some pep into your ads and improve their overall performance.
Before getting started, here are some general pointers:
- Good ideas can take time to come together, so put some time into your ad copy. I brainstorm ideas and intentionally sit on them for a while. I find this valuable, as I often come up with additional ideas when I’m not specifically thinking about my copy. (Keep a device or pen and paper handy to jot them down!) The extra time also gives me time to brainstorm and/or run ideas by colleagues, run a mini-focus group or talk to potential customers to further refine ideas.
- Ad copy should be concise and to the point. Just because you’re given a certain amount of space, it doesn’t mean you should use it all. In fact, we’ve been testing shorter headlines (especially second headlines), and they’ve been converting better than the longer ones.
- Come up with a plan to consistently iterate and improve the performance of ads. A simple calendar reminder (say, once every two weeks or every month) can be a very good way to keep on top of this.
In the sections below, I cover ways to improve ad copy to increase conversions. They are in no particular order. I suggest layering the strategies on top of each other for added ad bang.
1. Reduce buyer anxiety
Many people feel anxious about making purchases online. Try to incorporate elements that make people feel less anxious. One way to do this is to emphasize your company’s credibility — e.g.,”in business since 1984,” “as seen on TV,” “as featured in The New York Times.” These can be enhanced with features like seller ratings and review extensions and are very effective in helping people feel more comfortable making a purchase from you.
I also like to emphasize the “no extra fee” angle, and you can use wording like “no hidden fees,” “no booking fees” and “no minimums.” You can even try stronger language like “no bait and switch” if your brand/industry lends itself well to such language.
You can take it a step further and create “positive” anxiety. Effective strategies for this are to state that special pricing ends by X date or is available for a limited time. The countdown feature is an awesome complement to this wording. You can also highlight potential loss by using wording like “don’t miss out!” or “why miss out?”
2. Reduce buyer friction
It’s also important to eliminate potential barriers to purchase. For example, I spell out how easy it will be to get, use or return a product or service. It provides additional reassurance and can effectively nudge people to make a purchase. Here are several examples:
- Quick turnaround: “ships within one day,” “inventory available”
- Return policy: “free returns,” “30-day returns,” “no hassle”
- Ease of use: “within minutes,” “quick and easy,” “3 easy steps”
A good website/mobile experience is ultra-important here, too. Too often, people get frustrated with an interface or online experience and bail altogether on making a purchase.
3. Create contrast
An effective way to stand out is to create contrast between you and your competitors. For this, it’s best to focus on USPs and value propositions. Aim to know these like the back of your hand, and use them readily in copy. They must resonate with your target audience, so take the time to really understand what makes your potential buyers tick.
Too many times I’ve been told a company absolutely understands their customers, only to find out this isn’t the case. Luckily for us, ad copy is a fantastic way to test different USPs and propositions against each other. I like to use at least one USP and two value propositions in my ads. Mix and match until you find the best-converting “cocktail.” Below are some ideas of elements you can incorporate into ads:
- Quality: “high quality,” “durable,” “best selling”
- Low price: “low-price guarantee,” “prices starting at $10,” “bargain prices,” “wholesale pricing”
- Selection: “over 5,000 items in stock,” “huge selection in stock”
4. Provide incentives
Buyers are highly motivated by incentives, so it makes sense to include them in ads. Here are examples of some of the more compelling ones I use:
- Discount offers: “up to 50% off,” “save an extra 25%”
- Freebie offers: “free white paper,” “buy one & get one (BOGO)”
- Free shipping: “free shipping,” “free overnight delivery”
5. Use vivid words to grab attention & inspire action
Standing out is a huge part of the advertising game, so think of ways to make your ads pop. I like to take existing ads and simply switch up some of the vocabulary previously used.
Here are some examples of ads with some pop:
Go forth and improve your ad copy!
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