How to Create Better PPC Ads By Improving Your Writing
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is HOT right now. 64% of consumers interact with Google ads when shopping online, and anecdotally we’ve seen a big jump in the number of clients interested in search ads in 2020 here at Starling Social.
Back when the market was less saturated, ad agencies took a (misguided) approach of “set it and forget it”, thinking that setting up a few ads with targeted keywords would be enough to generate results for their clients.
These days, a “set it and forget it” approach just doesn’t work.
PPC ads require a lot of up-front work: taking time to know the client, their customers, the most common questions customers ask, geotargeting, identifying keywords and calls-to-action… but the “secret sauce” that ties all of these elements together is strong, compelling writing.
As a team with +20 years’ running PPC ads and publishing content online, we know a thing or two about creating great ad copy, so today we're sharing a post that will teach you:
- Why is strong writing important for PPC?
- What does “strong” writing in a PPC ad look like?
- How to write strong PPC ads
- Two easy ways to improve your PPC ad writing skills
Why is strong writing important for PPC?
Google and Bing, the world’s two most popular search engines, reward strong writing with higher ad quality scores that help your ads be seen and decrease your cost per ad.
Obviously a low cost per ad is important, but a well-written ad can maximize the limited character space you have available and hold readers’ attention long enough to get them to take the action you want them to take (also known as “reacting to our call-to-action (CTA)”.
Ads with strong copy stand out and capture users’ attention, speak to the specific pain point or need that person is having, and include a clear, actionable CTA.
What does “strong” writing in a PPC ad look like? Two examples:
Before we dive into how to write great PPC ads, let’s review a few examples of what great PPC ads look like:
What makes it great?
- Clear CTA
- Great use of the second headline “reinforcing” the first
- Uses the Google Sitelink Extension*
*According to Google, adding a single ad extension to a campaign can increase the click-through rate between 10-25%.
Upwork is a marketplace that connects clients with freelancers. This ad is great because the CTA encourages you to use the service to hire the BEST, not just any ‘ol freelancer.
The ad further reinforces this by calling them experts in their field, which builds trust, and language like “a pool of agencies” helps customers feel confident that Upwork will help them ger great work done for less than they’re paying now.
(Hint: offering anything free, or focusing on cost savings tends to do well.)
Upwork also uses site extensions to direct users to the most important pages, like “how does it work” and “browse freelance talent” which make the ad larger (taking up more real estate on a user’s screen) and greatly increase click-through rate (CTR) by giving specific options for users to click on.
Even better: using site extensions gives us more data to understand what users care about, which we can re-apply to future ads to increase CTR. Yahoo!
What makes it great?
- Clearly lists benefits
- Speaks to timely concerns (contactless delivery)
- Is relevant to the shopping season (holidays)
- Call-to-action (CTAs) in site extensions
You probably know who Apple is by now, so you may be wondering: why the heck are they running PPC ads if they’re such an established brand?
The answer is twofold: to start, people forget about products no matter how big or well-known the company is. Second (and more importantly) if Apple doesn’t hold the top spot in a search engine results page (SERP), then a competitor will — not good for Apple!
This tactic — of fending off competition — is one of the things that makes PPC advertising so powerful and important for businesses.
The ad starts by listing all the latest Apple products and speaking to customers’ concerns about holiday shopping, contactless delivery, and fast and free shipping — all things we know customers care about right now.
By using site extensions, Apple can direct search traffic to specific landing pages for the products they’re trying to sell and include CTAs about trade-ins to encourage clicks.
How to write strong PPC ads
PPC copywriters must have a deep understanding of the audience they're targeting with their ads.
Understanding what customers want and need is essential to writing copy that clearly states how you solve those needs. Below are the most important things to keep in mind when writing PPC ads:
Use audience-specific language
Once you know what your customers needs are, you can write copy that speaks directly to their interests, challenges, and proactively shows how clicking on your ad solves their problems.
Again, this comes down to knowing your audience. If you’re not sure what your customers care about, ask yourself:
- What do my customers want when they contact us?
- What language do they use when talking about their needs?
- What are things they care about, like discounts or free shipping?
- What adjectives can I use to convey the value of what we do?
PPC ads are successful when they speak to a person’s specific search query, which means being detail-oriented about the copy you use when targeting different types of searches.
Think about it this way: every search is your customer telling you what they want.
The more specific the search, the more specific your ad copy should be.
On the flipside, a less specific search query requires less specific, more general copy.
Keeping the search intent and level of detail in mind, and crafting copy that reflects it, is how you can write PPC ads that speak to your customer’s needs.
Use call-to-action (CTA)s
Your call-to-action is one of the most important parts of your ad.
A strong CTA is clear, direct, and to-the-point. Your CTA should specifically state what you want the reader to do and incentivize them to take that action.
Whether that’s “learn more”, “book now”, or “sign up”, your reader needs to be clear on what you want them to do with your PPC ad.
Hint: an easy way to do this is to lead with a strong action word. “Shop”, “discover”, and “download” are all examples of action words you can use to encourage your reader to click on your ad.
Evoke emotion with your ad copy
By using words that evoke excitement, enthusiasm, or a sense of urgency, you can encourage readers to take the next step.
This Buffer analysis of the IPA dataBANK (which itself has 1400 case studies of real ad campaigns) found that campaigns with emotional content performed twice as well as ads that were straightforward and unemotional.
According to Buffer, here are the top five:
Before you start writing, ask yourself: what kind of emotional reaction do I want to evoke in the people who see my ad?
Have a beginning, middle and end
Whether you’re writing a tweet, blog post, or a PPC ad, your copy should have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
This isn’t just regular ‘ol writing advice — people are conditioned to expect “story arcs” because we grow up with them in the books, TV, and movies we consume. As a result, it’s a pattern we expect, and one that makes us feel good when we see it.
Having an “arc” in your PPC ads creates a familiar structure for your readers, allowing them to act with the ad in a way that feels intuitive and “ends” with them taking the action you stated in your call-to-action.
Two easy ways to improve your PPC ad writing skills
Below are two of the tools we use here at Starling Social to hone our copywriting and create PPC ad copy that drives results:
The Hemingway App. Ernest Hemingway was known for his tight, concise prose in his novels, and this tool identifies complicated sentences and helps your writing be more clear and direct.
The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. This tool is exactly what it sounds like! By scoring things like sentence length, keywords, and emotion, this tool (which is technically for blog titles but is useful across the board) can help you understand how your copy is likely to perform.
Remember: writing (like everything) takes practice, but by using the strategies we’ve outlined here you can make your PPC ads stand out from the competition and give you an edge in generating the click-throughs that are essential to a successful ad campaign.
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