Sometimes, even in the fast-paced and ever-changing evolving world of digital or social media marketing, it pays to go right back to basics – the actual ad copy and creative.
After all, sometimes with all the fuss about how “different” and “exciting” new forms of marketing can be, we forget that, at the end of the day, marketing itself hasn’t fundamentally changed.
Ooft. Spicy call, and I think I can literally see a few eyes rolling as people read this.
You see, the actual ad copy and creative are integral to any successful advertising campaign – whether you’re pulling off a traditional marketing campaign using billboards, bus shelters or TV commercials or focusing on the digital sphere.
Of course, within the digital sphere, there are a number of different avenues through which you can pursue a successful campaign.
If the ads have been poorly done at the outset, your target audience is not going to be drawn to your products or services, meaning, no attention or clicks.
No matter the medium, nor the budget – it’s simply imperative that your ad copy and the creative are both impeccably done.
Whether you’ve picked a traditional or digital medium, ad copy and creative always matter.
HOW TO WRITE GOOD AD COPY
Luckily, writing good or even great ad copy, doesn’t mean you need a huge budget and to come up with an incredibly catchy slogan that’s going to take the world by storm.
In fact, it’s actually quite simple.
Like I said at the start, a lot of it is all about getting back to basics. It just needs to be well-written.
As a writer myself, there is literally nothing worse than reading copy that is just grammatically incorrect or littered with sentences that are simply poorly strung together.
You see, the thing is that even when the target audience reading your ads are not writers themselves, people notice when ads are badly written. Sure, not everybody loves using apostrophes, but most of us find it jarring when they pop up in the wrong place completely.
Same goes for using words incorrectly, misspelling them, using the wrong their/there, your/you’re or where/we’re. Or, in what is an extra-large pet peeve of mine – people writing “would of” instead of “would have”. Please don’t.
This all just makes your ad look downright unprofessional and like it was done on a budget.
It also brings it close to the domain of ‘spammy’ content. Ads which are not well-written seem like they’d be dangerous to click on, so potential customers will steer clear of the products they are trying to sell.
Now, I am by no means suggesting that writing – particularly ad copywriting – is an easy feat. In fact, I think a fair case could be made as to it being the most difficult sort (it’s persuasive, short and needs to be hyper-targeted as well as attention grabbing).
Eurghh – no thanks, give me a nice long blog post about anything (even why SEO consultants are creepier than clowns) over having to write ad copy any day!
That being said – I think the best tip to keep in mind when you’re having to do digital ad copy is that it’s not fundamentally different from any other sort of online writing – just that it needs to be your best work because you have very limited space to sell the products to potential customers.
Another key element of writing successful ad copy is remembering to include a call to action. Without it, I hate to break it to you, but your ads are kind of meaningless. Customers might be interested in your products and services, but if you don’t get them to do anything with this interest – you’ve lost them.
It doesn’t always have to be getting them to ‘buy now’ either. Sometimes, it’s getting prospects to sign up, or download a free e-book.
Luckily, it is 2021, which means there are a myriad of tools available online to really simplify the writing process. Grammarly is a good one if you’re using Google Docs, and pretty worthwhile, no matter the size of your budget. Otherwise, just ask somebody else to have a read of what you’ve done – a particularly good idea if you’re writing something in a short timeframe.
The other great thing to do when you’re needing to write quite a lot of content is to see if it’s possible to sort out your time management skills so that you have time to come back and edit work before it goes live.
That’s a particularly good tip if you don’t have a dedicated copy-editor reading your work. Work out when you write best, for some people it’s first thing in the morning as the caffeine buzz is kicking in. For others, it’s the evening when they are maybe more creative.
Either way, if you can come back to ad copy the next day with a pair of fresh eyes, that can be really beneficial to picking up on little errors that you otherwise skim past. Sometimes that’s the difference between writing mediocre and great ad copy that will really capture customers’ attention.
Trust me – we’ve all been at the point where we have stared at a piece of our writing for so long that it starts to just blur into one nonsensical mess and you can’t give it any proper attention.
This is when you stand up and walk away, get some fresh air and try another task (if that one’s deadline is not in 20 minutes, of course).
WHAT ABOUT THE TECHNICAL STUFF?
As when you’re writing any kind of digital content, try to get right to the heart of user intent. Unfortunately, users do not click on ads because they are just ‘interesting’ in their own right.
Instead, potential customers will click on ads because they have a problem that requires a solution (and hopefully the solution is your products or services). Simple!
So, when you’re writing (sorry for the cliché, but I promise it will be the only one I include in this article) – really put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.
Horrible phrase, I know, but it is very apt at reminding you that all ads need to be targeted to real users, with real problems. Imagine yourself as a consumer, unless ads seem to actually be what you need – you’re not going to click.
This kind of empathetic thinking leads to better click through rates, and ultimately a better conversion rate.
You also need to focus on the benefits your products and services can have for audiences. There is an idea that capitalism, after all, has made us inherently selfish. We pretty much only want to buy things for a few reasons – either they are attractive to us (as in, they make us fit into a community or moment, fulfil our passions) or they make our lives easier and solve our problems.
Think as well about what kind of a budget your target audience is working with as well as when and where you’re likely to find them.
Then, do a bit of research as to what else is already on the market in terms of ads for the industry you’re either in, or writing for.
What kind of emotional responses do they attempt to elicit from the audience? These can be both negative and positive responses. Sometimes things like fear play really well – whether that’s the fear of missing out on whatever you’re providing, or the fear that something will happen to them if they don’t avail of your product or service.
Obviously, within particular industries there are going to be particular tactics and emotions that are easier to target than others. Here is where it pays to not only look at what your competitors are doing as to how you can emulate them, but also how you can do something differently and stand out from the crowd.
Now, don’t discount the technical elements of good ad copy either. With Google Ads, for example, it’s key that the display URLs which appear with the ad are optimised for keywords.
Do not write a lovely ad copy and forget to put any of the keywords you are targeting in there. The same goes for making sure your most important copy comes first in the headlines and in the first line of the meta description – this ensures the ad is optimised for desktop and mobile viewing so you catch audiences across all mediums.
Likewise, don’t forget to write a few variations for every ad group – varying your tone and sentiment slightly between each one.
Last little point – once Google Ads have gone live, use Google Analytics as your best friend to keep track of ad performance. Using Google Analytics means you’re better able to inform future advertising campaigns because you learn what did and did not work.
WHAT ABOUT THE CREATIVE?
Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to forget this important element.
With any social media platform, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or even LinkedIn ads, the Creative is arguably equally, if not more important than the written copy.
This is because people who are scrolling through their news feeds are more likely to be attracted to interesting images and visuals, rather than large chunks of text. We know as well that users are much more likely to scroll these sites on their phones as opposed to desktops, which means they are even less interested in reading.
With the creative, many of the same points I made about the written ad copy remain true. It needs to look good, polished and clean to be attractive to all audiences, no matter what your budget is.
Another thing that new advertisers often forget is just how important the image’s relevancy is. You want people to be able to clearly associate the chosen image with your brand and the products you’re trying to sell.
All of the social media sites I already mentioned also have the unusual quirk of not wanting you to have a lot of text at all. Powerful headlines, a call to action and a very brief description are really all you need.
Within this same vein, it’s important that you design ads specifically for each of the different digital mediums (mobile, desktop and tablet). The difference when it comes to screen sizes translates to different responses from your target audience or audiences.
If you’re on a tight budget, pick one or two to focus on.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET SOME HELP
If neither graphics nor writing are your thing, then there are plenty of professionals out there who are able to do great things for your business.
Either hiring a freelancer, or going with a trusted agency can be a great way of delegating tasks to ensure you can spend more time doing what you love.
But, I definitely want to make something clear here. There are plenty of people on the Internet who are only out to make a quick buck, and, unfortunately, since COVID forced businesses online, scams and corruption have been pretty rife.
I’ve touched on this a few times in other blog posts, but it is really important to ask yourself whether or not something seems too good to be true before you get involved. Even when you’re working on a budget, if someone is prepared to work for a price you would not personally accept – take this as a red flag.
As with every industry, there are good guys and bad guys and sometimes, unfortunately, it can be hard to spot who is who online.
Let’s break this down really quickly and succinctly for you.
For both creative and written ad copy, get right back to basics to make it work for you.
- No matter your business’ budget, clean, concise sentences and perfect grammar matter. Use a tool like Grammarly to help.
- Avoid anything that takes you into the realm of spammy content – this only alienates audiences.
- Keep in mind user intent – your ad needs to serve a purpose and speak to an actual need. People buy things for a reason, keep that in mind as you write.
- Include a call to action so your ad has a purpose and inspires people to do something.
- Keyword research still matters, and don’t forget the importance of actually including the keyword in the final copy. Google Analytics can help.
- It’s equally as important to research what your competitors are up to. Emulate what they are doing in terms of the emotional response their copy tries to elicit in target audiences, but also look for ways to be original. Find the niche they haven’t captured yet.
- Keep it bright, original and clean. Content needs to look polished and ‘safe’ for users to click on.
- Ensure you’ve got separate ad copies for each digital medium – whether mobile, desktop or tablet.
- Minimal words on ad copy for Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn as these are primarily visual sites, where audiences are normally on their mobile phones.
- Make sure the images and headlines makes sense for your brand and the product or service you’re promoting.
- Watch what happens with Ads after they have gone live (Google Analytics for Google Ads, for example).