Writing Compelling Ad Copy

March 17, 2008

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor


I was able to sit in on a session at SES NY 2008 (Search Engines Strategies, New York), given by Jason Miller (CTO of Engine Ready Software), entitled “Creating Compelling Ads”, and he had some interesting thoughts that I wanted to touch on:

1. Don’t start with a blank ad.  When you start to write your ad copy, don’t start from scratch, instead see what kind of ad copy is already out there for that query. You want to set yourself apart from what currently exists, so use the ad copy that is out there as your basis, and make sure that your ad stands out from the crowd.

2. Utility vs. Emotional ads.  When should you write an emotional ad, and when should you write a utility focused ad?  The answer seems to be: do whatever the majority is NOT doing (again, in order to set yourself apart).  So if the majority of the ads are utilitarian, simply stating what is being sold, with a dry call to action (e.g. “price has dropped”, “ships free”, etc.), then you would want your ad to be more on the emotional side (e.g. “huge savings on the freshest gear!”, “take advantage of great deals now!”etc.), in order to set yourself apart.

3. “Free” is a very powerful word, “Free shipping” is not as powerful.  Jason’s thought was that if everyone is offering free shipping in their ad copy, then it doesn’t make sense for you to use it in yours (as it doesn’t set you apart).  I disagree with this one though-  there have been studies done, and we’ve certainly seen it in practice for our clients, that show that “free shipping” is still one of the most compelling phrases that you can put in your ad copy.  In my experience, it’s still one of the things that users look for.  If you don’t have to worry about shipping, that’s a huge thing when you’re shopping around for the best price.  Do you look for “Free shipping” when searching for products on Google- I do.

4. The last good take-away was the notion that “your ad is a window into your site”.  When writing ad copy, make sure you capture the essence of the landing page.  This is sometimes hard to do when you only have 25 characters for a title and 70 characters for ad copy.  However, the goal is to try to give the user insight into the page that they will see when they click on the ad.  If you don’t do this, you will likely see a higher than normal bounce rate.

Look out for more posts from SES NY, we’ll try to grab the most interesting pieces to share with you.

written by Tim Walker — tim.walker at channeladvisor.com