6 Tips for Writing Ad Copy at Scale
So here you are, staring at a million empty cells on an Excel spreadsheet, brainstorming your best calls to action, aka CTA’s and your catchiest taglines; you've got your best keywords sticky-noted to the computer screen as you write. We see you, writing ad copy is a little intimidating. Writing ad copy at scale? Even scarier.
You might find yourself here because you’re building out a new account, creating a new campaign, or just editing your existing ads after Google has introduced its newest and shiniest ad type, like responsive search ads.
Whatever it may be, sitting and waiting for a creative epiphany and attempting to channel your inner advertising visionary genius can be frustrating, to say the least. On top of that, it’s crucial to stay on your toes as Google constantly updates the details of its ad capabilities and features; it’s a lot to keep up with. That’s why we’ve outlined our best tips for writing paid search ads at scale, so you can take a deep breath and feel a little more confident in your quest to conquer the beast that goes by the name of PPC advertising.
1. Stop! Close that spreadsheet! Research! Before anything else!
For a lot of people, doing your ad copywriting research might mean googling best practices. This isn’t necessarily bad practice, but it’s not the only research you should be doing. In reality, ad copy best practices aren’t one-size-fits-all. The most successful CTA’s for one industry or company may not be best for your business. So, how do you overcome that, you ask?
Start searching the way you would imagine your target market searches for you. See how your competitors are baiting them in, and start to identify ways to infiltrate that space. Your process should start with some strong keyword research. You can’t successfully write an ad for your target market without at least showing up when they’re searching for you! Figure out what keywords are important for your business to include in ad copy so you can get in front of your most worthwhile audience. Trying to see things from a prospect’s perspective within your buyer’s journey will do wonders for your ability to match their intent and drive engagement with your ad.
This research also helps you better understand your target market, and can assist you in nailing down some solid buyer personas even further. What’s your target audience searching for? How are they wording it? What are the most common keywords? Who are your PPC competitors? We’ll talk more about that a little later, but standing in your potential customers’ shoes before any cells on the Excel sheet get filled in is the ultimate goal here.
2. Organize yourself before you start
I know, I know, I said I was offering tips for writing ad copy at scale, but that research advice is pretty standard with any amount of ads you’re writing, so hold tight, and also, you’re welcome. Here’s where the tips are a little more technical/process oriented.
I start by organizing a spreadsheet (those empty cells I keep referencing) and filling in the ad group and campaign columns before anything else. The ad group includes the keywords I’m optimizing for, so including them within the headlines is crucial to matching search query intent and gaining exposure.
Here’s what the organization of the process looks like, from a spreadsheet to a live ad on the world wide web! They grow up so fast.
3. Make multiple variations within each ad group
Creating a few different variations for each ad group you’re writing for is your best bet. This way, you can measure the success of them against each other, and yes I’m gonna say it again, gain a better understanding of your audience and their behavior.
If that doesn’t convince you, consider how creating multiple variations for the same ad also broadens your reach. Some segments of your target audience might be more inclined to click on an ad with a more negative tone, offering a solution to a problem, and some might be more interested in a positive tone that highlights an opportunity.
But what kind of emotional ad will appeal the most to your target audience? The only way to find out: Make. Multiple. Variations.
When you’re writing a few different variations for the same ad group, it’s easy to run out of thesaurus suggestions for your wording. Rather than using a bunch of synonyms in your ad varying efforts, focus more on the tone of your messaging. For example, you could write two ads with a positive tone, and two with a more negative tone. One of each could include a question in the headline, and the others could be more statement-driven. Here’s an example of creating different variations for the same ad:
Notice how they’re all being written for the same AdWords Grader campaign, but using a slightly different messaging and tone. The first and third variations are focused more on appealing to the people searching for guidance on the new platform. They identify a pain point for searchers, and offer support and solutions to those problems that may prompt them to click on the ad. The second and fourth variations are geared towards those who are less emotionally engaged with the AdWords changes, but may still be searching for guidance. The slight variations in wording, perspective, and tone broaden your message and help your ad appeal to the largest and most favorable audience possible.
No matter how blocked you may feel in the creative process, do your best to tackle one ad group at a time. It gets complicated when you jump back and forth between ad groups, and it can also hurt the fluidity of your messaging. If you’re feeling particularly blocked, skipping the descriptions and working on other ad groups is the way to go. You’ll have to refresh your memory when you go back later to write them, but it won’t mess with the flow of your headlines, which are probably the most important parts of your ads.
4. Open all the landing pages your ad will direct clicks to
While you’re writing your ads, have the landing pages they’ll direct people to from the SERPs open in front of you. You might be thinking, “I know everything on the landing page and what it means, I wrote it,” but I’m still recommending it.
When you’re writing ad copy at scale, sometimes all the ad groups mush together in your brain and you start losing the connection between the ad and the specific page it’s bringing people to. With the landing page open, not only do you avoid writing landing page copy that’s irrelevant to the matching ad, but it can help you ensure that the people clicking on the ad know what they’re being directed to, which helps you avoid high bounce rates, low CTR, and brief page visits. Focus on making the customer’s journey from the ad to the landing page as seamless and fluid as possible within the messaging.
5. Even while diversifying voice, keep your message consistent
Ok, now that you’re all set up and organized in writing your ad copy, let’s talk about the technicalities within the actual messaging. Remember what I said about diversifying your message across variations of the same ad group? Varying with positive/negative tones is good advice, but let's talk about some alternative ideas to test your ad copy.
If you haven’t already, you should have come across some common pain points for your target market when you were doing your research on keywords, search queries, and customer personas. What is it about your business that improves the lives of your customers? What do you offer to fix, or make easier/more efficient for your customers?
Your value proposition should be highlighted one way or another throughout your ad copy. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes (yes, I said it again) and focus on emphasizing the benefits your business provides them with over the features of your product. Speak to, and offer solutions for, your market’s most common pain points. For example, at WordStream, we’re offering customers the optimization of their online advertising with superior, easy to use software and expert guidance (humble brag). Instead of all of our ads saying “Our Software Can Grade Your Google Ads Account,” they’ll say things like “More Leads for Your Business.” That’s the true end benefit. To make your ads stand out, mirror the customer’s ultimate goal in your copy.
6. Test till you drop
The value of regularly running A/B tests on your PPC ads is impossible to overlook. You can monitor the engagement of one version of an ad directly against another, and gain real, actionable insight into writing more successful ads.
Try testing different CTA’s, tones, wording, verbs, numbers in headlines, questions, capitalization of certain letters; the limit does not exist! I know sometimes it’s hard to imagine that little tweaks in the wording would make any significant difference in engagement, but they really can.
In the end, there are no rules here; test whatever you think is worth testing. By regularly testing them as they roll out for your campaigns, you’ll be able to constantly improve the success of your ads. It’s as simple as:
- Write two ads
- Run them simultaneously
- Check which ad has more favorable metrics (CTR, Conversion Rate, etc.)
- Remove the ad with lower performance, replace it with another
So, there you have it! Tips for writing ad copy at scale, from organizing your process to best practices within the detail of your copy; intimidation, be gone! Take your time, do your research, stay organized, follow best practices for the copy, and test, test, test.