What Is Ad Copy? How to Write Ad Copy

Advertising has drastically changed over the last few decades.

With the introduction of various paid advertising platforms, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit ads, and the growth of digital marketing, there’s more competition than ever, and it’s more difficult to capture peoples’ attention.

However, there’s still plenty of opportunity to succeed. When done right, paid advertising can be very lucrative and provide a fantastic ROI for your business. One key element of successful advertising is writing compelling ad copy, which has been the case since the start of time. 

What is ad copy?

Ad copy refers to web copywriting for advertisements. Ad copy includes the headline, the description, and any other piece of copy on the advertisement that is aimed at persuading users to move towards a call to action, such as buying or signing up for something.

Good ad copy can be the difference between having a good or a poor conversion rate. Words matter and they are crucial for the success of your ad campaigns.

Why is ad copy important?

Ad copy is important because it encourages people to move towards your call to action, such as checking out your website or making a purchase. Good ad copy shows people where they need to go and engages them at the same time.

Ad copy is usually not the first thing people see when looking at your advertisement. For example, on Instagram and Facebook, ads are visually appealing, utilizing images and videos, which is what people see first. However, the ad copy is still crucial, as it’s words that will determine whether a user will read on, and click on your call to action. The image is casting the fishing rod, and the copy is reeling it in. In the case of Google Ads, the copy is even more important as it’s all you’ve got.

Types of ad copy

1. Short form

Short-form ad copy is often used in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, such as Google Ads, and on social media platforms like LinkedIn.

These ads often have concise headlines and some text as a description. Short copy is difficult to write, as you don’t have many words to use. Every word has the opportunity to turn off a reader, and so each word must be chosen with extreme care to ensure they communicate the right message.

2. Long-form

Long-form ad copy is generally best at around the length of a short blog post (200-500 words).

Long-form is only good for certain platforms, like Instagram, which has a 2,200-word character limit. While a Google Ad description only allows 90 characters.

The main benefit of long-form ad copy is that it allows you to cover multiple objections a potential customer may have, and it provides the opportunity to give more value before prompting a call to action.

Long-form copy is more common for technical topics as these target audiences generally expect in-depth information to consider before making a decision.

3. Social proof

Social proof or testimonial copy is where you take advantage of what customers are saying about your product or service.

You can use a written testimonial, video, or both, then write ad copy that explains what a customer was able to achieve or what benefits they got from purchasing your offering.

Social proof can help reduce any doubts, increase conversions and build trust with your prospective customers. Including testimonials, especially from other credible people or groups your target audience knows, works like magic. 

Another advantage of leveraging social proof is that it saves you time. Your customers have already written great copy for you. Their words speak louder than yours.

How to write ad copy

To write great ad copy, it’s important to adhere to a few key principles that will ensure your copy is written in a way that’s optimized to engage and convert users.

1. Understand your target audience 

Before you start writing anything, you must know exactly who it is you’re writing to. This is not only important for writing effective ad copy, but also for setting the optimal filters for your ads, e.g. region, job title, interests, keywords, etc. 

Here are a few important questions to answer:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where are they located?
  • What are their interests?
  • What’s their job title?
  • What kind of topics will they resonate most with?
  • What kind of headline would grab their attention?

Understanding your target audience, in great detail, is a crucial step for writing the most engaging copy possible. Get to know your audience better than your competitors, and write as if you’re writing to one specific person, rather than a stadium of people. 

2. Focus on benefits, not features

One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing ad copy is focusing on the features of the product or service they’re pitching or the company they’re representing. This is wrong. Instead, focus on benefits.

Most people do not care about your company, and why your product or service is the best, or anything else related to you, at least yet.

When someone engages with an ad, it’s because they have a problem, and an ad has recognized this and captures a person’s attention by providing a potential solution.

People care about whether what you offer can improve their lives. Focusing on the benefits (the problem-solving nature of your offering), will engage your audience. Benefits get people excited. This is why good copy should always center around what they will get.

3. Show users how you’ll solve their problems

The reason people click on an ad is because it appears to have the solution to a problem they’re experiencing. If you’ve researched your target audience well, you’ll know exactly what problems they face and their pain points.

Write a headline that captures their problems and shows them that you understand exactly what they are struggling with. Use emotive language. They should be feeling a sigh of relief and thinking “finally, these guys get it.” Click, click, click! 

Before creating an ad, think about the central problem your target audience has, and then consider how your headline and body text will make it clear to users that clicking on your ad will take them one step closer to solving that problem.

4. A/B test your copy

A/B testing is a crucial part of running an effective ad campaign. It’s very unlikely that your first variation of copy for your ad will be the one that converts the best.

Through testing multiple variations of the headline, and body text, you’ll be able to determine which is engaging your audience and providing the best ROI.

Ad copy is not just an art, it’s a science. Data is your friend here. Use it to your advantage, and test multiple types of copy. Don’t get emotionally attached to something you’ve written. Test, and let the data guide you.

5. Determine the ideal call to action

Examples of call to actions include “buy now”, “learn more”, “download”, and “book now”. The right call to action is simple to determine, but if you use the wrong one, it can ruin your ad.

The call to action should be concise, clear, singular (focused on one action), actionable, and aligned well with what it brings users to after being clicked on.

The easiest way to determine a good call to action is to examine similar ads by competitors and see what types they use. If you can spot a pattern, then likely, that type of call to action is appropriate.

The bottom line

No matter what type of ad you’re writing or the industry it’s for, taking the time to write compelling copy is essential to get the best results from your advertising campaigns. Good copy takes time to write, but it’s worth investing in for the return paid advertising can provide.

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