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How to Write Ad Copy That Actually Converts

By Lauren Lietzow 17 June, 2021, 9 mins read

It goes without saying that ad copy plays an instrumental role in the success of an ad.

More often than not, it’s the first touchpoint a customer will have with your brand, which makes it even more important to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward, so to speak, when writing ad copy.

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The first ad (including ad copy) your customer sees is vital as it paves the way toward a conversion.

Think of it like clothing for your website. You’re more likely to trust someone who takes pride in their appearance, right?

Effective ad copy should balance logic with emotion, often referred to as red brain and green brain, to spark a connection with an audience that circumvents any buyer’s resistance that comes from the analytical part of the brain.

Think of it like an ongoing tennis match in your head between the urge to ‘treat yourself’ (green brain) and ‘do I really need this?’ (red brain).

Sound familiar? We thought so.

Ad copy should inspire and excite whilst also addressing an audience’s pain points, communicating your brand’s value proposition (why people should buy your product or service), and speaking to the direct benefits they’ll experience as a result of your product or service (more on this later). 

It should also demonstrate a clear path to success with a strong call-to-action (CTA). 

Targeting and placement aside, if your ad copy fails to address these factors and connect with your audience, it’s wasted money. 

And when you consider that businesses are spending on average more than half of their marketing budget on digital alone, that’s a lot of money on the line.

But before we get into the nitty gritty of crafting compelling ad copy, let’s look at what it takes to write compelling ad copy.

Step 1: Research, research, research. Repeat.

In 2021, people are seeing more ads than ever, with global impressions up 20%. But the average global click-through rate (CTR) is down 30%, meaning in order for your ads to cut through the smog of competition, they’ve got to stand out.

And the first step to standing out is understanding where you fit in.

Every piece of ad copy you craft should be based on a thorough understanding of your target audience, industry, existing competition and your existing customer’s experience.

If you’re a new brand, looking at more established competitor’s ads and websites will help you gain an understanding of the areas they’re doing well in and areas of opportunity for your brand.

Marketers use tools like Spyfu and BigSpy, which you access to an extensive library of ads as well as top converting keywords and creatives. They also give you insight into a competitor’s tone of voice, point of difference and target audience.

BigSpy allows users to search by keyword, brand and platform. Source: Pinterest.

If it’s email newsletters you’re looking for, check out Milled.

For existing businesses, there are a variety of tools and resources available for you to gauge your customer’s experience in the form of both qualitative and quantitative data.

Review platforms like Stamped.io and Judge.me are qualitative methods that measure the direct impact your product or service had on a customer’s life. They can even unearth other benefits and insights from their experience you may have otherwise missed.

Additionally, setting up a review flow on your email marketing platform (we recommend our partner, Klaviyo) allows brands to automatically send out requests for reviews following a customer’s purchase.

Tools like Facebook Messenger and Groups allow you to communicate directly with your customers and understand their pains, needs and challenges, as well as what they like or dislike about your product or service.

Facebook Groups can also be used to encourage customers to share their thoughts and opinions with other existing customers in a more informal, conversational context.

Then there’s more tangible – or quantitative – methods to understand your customers.

Google Analytics, website data and paid campaign performance all help determine how customers interact with your ads and website. 

Your ad CTR indicates the percentage of people who saw your ad and clicked through to your landing page. 

Generally speaking, a Facebook ad CTR of 1% or more or 3% or more for a Google ad indicates healthy engagement and that your copy and creative are doing a decent job at generating interest.

While the average CTR differs from industry to industry, these benchmarks should be referred to when determining whether or not you need to test new ad copy or creative to improve your results.

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Source: Instapage

For Google ads, this could include incorporating more keywords into your headline and first line of copy or amending your headline so it’s clearer and written for page-scanners.

In the case of Facebook ads, a new angle, tone of voice or CTA can help improve your CTR.

Step 2: Take a long, hard look at yourself

Once you get to the point where you couldn’t possibly look at another infographic (we know the feeling), it’s time to take things in house with a classic SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.

A SWOT analysis helps determine any advantages you have over competing brands, as well as any potential issues you may need to consider when crafting your ad copy.

These factors could include pricing, quality, return policy, localisation, etc.

Take a sustainable womenswear brand, for example. Their products may be locally made using only eco-friendly materials, whereas their biggest competitors outsource their production and use harmful toxins or chemicals during the process.

In this example, you would want to ensure you clearly communicate the benefits of shopping at your store – both for the environment and customer – as well as the emotional impact this can have on a customer’s life (e.g. a clearer conscience).

Adversely, due to the sustainable brand’s production process, their pricing may be more expensive than their competitors. In this case, it’s important to address any potential objectives in your ad copy before your customer has the chance to.

You could do this through a reassurance of quality, longevity or a less-is-more approach to building your wardrobe.

simple swot analysis template
Source: Venngage

Step 3: Put your money where your mouth is

Feel like you’ve got a solid handle on your audience, market and competitors? Then it’s time to craft some killer copy.

This is the fun part–where all your research and hard work comes to life.

There are a variety of ad copy techniques you can use and an abundance of resources to refer to, and we’ve covered the importance of communicating your competitive advantage above, but here are 6 failsafe ad copy principles proven to increase your conversion rates.

Warning: some of these may be difficult to hear. But trust us, there’s always a method to the madness.

  1. Nobody cares about your offering, they care about themselves

Ok, we get it. It’s a hard pill to swallow. But let us explain.

You could have the latest whizzbang product, but that means nothing to your customer until you make it mean something.

When writing ad copy, you should always put your customer’s needs first. Put yourself in their shoes and think: what’s in it for me?

This means directly tying the features of your product or service to a direct benefit. Brownie points if you can attach a deeper emotional benefit.

For example, you could be selling an online software program that organises internal work tasks.

The features here would be that it organises projects, internal communication and work all in one place.

The benefits would be that everybody knows what to do, where things stand, and how to get what they need without having to follow up. The deeper benefit, however, is more accountability, free time, less stress and a more positive work culture.

See the difference?

This point is especially applicable to a niche industry or product where jargon is inextricably tied to an offering. 

If you find yourself having to translate tech-talk to your customers, friends or family, it’s likely your audience won’t understand what you’re selling unless it’s laid out in simple terms.

  1. Don’t speak to the masses, speak to the individual

While your product or service could apply to thousands of people, you always want to write ad copy as if you’re talking to one person only. This helps build a stronger connection between your brand and target audience.

Put simply; “helps people prioritise their workload for increased productivity” becomes “helps you prioritise your workload so you can work more productively”.

  1. Write with conviction

Writing ad copy in active voice is proven to improve your results

By putting the subject of the sentence first, your ad copy is clearer, more digestible, confident and demonstrates a clear action for a customer to take.

  1. People have feelings, your ad copy should too

We briefly touched on what this looks like in the online software program example, but your ad copy should focus on the emotional trigger tied to your product or service.

By using emotionally-charged words, you can incite a reaction in your audience, build a stronger connection and drive them to take the next step.

While there are a variety of emotional advertising strategies, we’ve seen some of the best results from ad copy that focuses on instant gratification, happiness, connection and FOMO, AKA, fear of missing out. 

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Nike’s 2018 campaign featuring former N.F.L player Colin Kaepernick leverages cultural leadership to incite action. Source: Creatopy

6. Create an attention-grabbing CTA

The CTA does a lot of the heavy lifting in ad copy.

It should summarise your offering and strike the perfect balance between simple, yet creative.

As a general rule, your CTA should lead with a strong action word (e.g. buy, shop, order, sign up, download, etc.) and follow with an adverb (e.g. now) or a subject (e.g. the collection, the sale, etc.)

If you want to evoke an emotional response in your audience, you can incorporate numbers, adjectives or a promise. You can also play into your customer’s FOMO by adding an element of urgency, e.g. ‘Limited time offer’.

And there you have it, everything you need to craft killer ad copy.

Feeling a tad overwhelmed? Megaphone’s home to some of Australia’s best copywriters, primed and ready to take your business to the next level. Get in touch to see how we can work together to achieve your goals!

Be our next success story.