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How to Write a Click-Grabbing Adwords Ad

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This post is part of a series called Google Adwords for Small Business.
How to Choose Keywords for Your Adwords Campaign
Google Adwords Landing Pages—Is Yours Up to Scratch?

You're creating an Adwords ad because you want to shine a light on your business.

Part of that means choosing the right keywords so your ad shows up when people are searching for the products or services you provide.

Picking good keywords is vital to the success of any Adwords campaign. But keywords alone won't be enough for your campaign to deliver results.

What else is important? Writing an ad that commands attention.

In the world of marketing, the words in an advert are known as "copy". Good copy is a vital part of an effective Adwords ad because:

  • It's your one chance to shine. You'll be competing for attention with other advertisers, so your copy needs to stand out.
  • It's your one chance to influence the actions of potential customers. People will only click your ad if they think it will help them get what they're looking for. Your copy needs to show this.
  • Bad copy can mean your ad never gets displayed. Google has the final say on what ads it shows, and if your ad isn't up to scratch, then Google won't list it.
  • You've only got a small space to work with. In total you have 130 characters
    —less than the length of a tweet—and over a quarter of that is dedicated to your website URL. The need to be extremely concise adds an extra layer of difficulty when you're composing ad copy.

Copy matters. So let's take a look at how you can write ad copy that gets results.

1. Know the Components of an Adwords Ad

Before you even think about writing your ad, it's best to know what you need to write. We've already mentioned that an Adwords ad is limited to 130 characters. This is broken down as follows:

  • 25 characters for your headline.
  • 35 characters for your URL (you get to choose how this is displayed)
  • 35 characters in the first line of your ad description.
  • 35 characters in the second line of your ad description.

That means you've got to be really, really concise when you write your ad.

2. Collect Ad Ideas

All good copywriters (and that includes you, if you're writing the copy for your Adwords ad) keep a swipe file of ads. Every time they see an ad that wows or woos them, they add it to their swipe file. Likewise, when they think of a new idea for an ad, they put it into their swipe file.

Then, when they've got to create an ad, they turn to their swipe file for inspiration. It's far easier to start creating with ideas to hand than to begin with nothing.

Creating a swipe file is really simple because businesses want you to see their ads. Adverts are everywhere. We're all exposed to thousands of ad messages every day. You won't have to look far to start compiling a swipe file.

You can start creating your swipe file now. As you read this tutorial, you may have ideas for your Adwords ad. If so, jot them down as you think of them (if you don't, you will probably forget them).

The more ideas you can collect the better. Adwords ads are short, and the best way to create short copy is to distill longer copy into its essence.

Talking of ideas, there's another way to spark your creativity...

3. Check Out the Competition

A really effective way of growing your swipe file is to look at what your competitors are doing.

You're looking to write an Adwords ad, so it's worth checking out the type of ads your competitors are creating. Run a few quick Google searches for the keywords you're using in your campaign.

By checking out what your competitors are up to, you'll find a few critical things:

  1. You'll see what's effective for other businesses in your industry. If it works for others, it's likely to work for you too.
  2. You'll see the basic principles of writing an Adwords ad put into practice. It's all very well knowing the theory of writing ad copy, but seeing it done will bring the theory into focus.
  3. You can see what your competitors aren't doing. That way, you could try something different so you can stand out from the crowd. This is a risky strategy but it can be highly effective.

Let's say I offer First Aid Training services. Using my most basic keyword, a search for "First Aid Training" brings up the following ad results:

From these results, I can see that:

  • Two of the ads mention a price—so this could be important.
  • One mentions the types of certificate I could gain by training with them.
  • All three use the keyword "First Aid" in the ad headline.

As such, if I were writing an Adwords ad for First Aid Training, it would be a good idea for me to consider including these elements in my ad.

To complete this step, collect as many of your competitors' ads as you can to put into your swipe file, and notice the common threads in the ads.

4. Write Your Ad

Now you've collected a wide range of ideas, you're ready to start writing. The following steps are essentially sub-steps of this step, because they'll show you how to write your ad.

Don't stress yourself out trying to create the perfect ad. Instead, do the following:

  • Read through your swipe file to get lots of ideas swirling around in your mind.
  • Read through this tutorial—and other tutorials you find helpful—so you know the ingredients to include in your ad.
  • Get writing! Write down as many ideas as you can for the headline and body copy of your ad. Don't worry about sticking to the word limit—you can pare your writing down later. The key for now is to get down as many ideas as you can.

Here's what's important to consider as you're writing:

Step 1. Keep It Relevant

In the example ads above, we noted that all of them included the search keyword. You should follow this practice too, and make sure the keyword is present in your ad. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Using the keyword shows people searching that your ad is relevant to what they're searching for.
  2. Any of the keywords that are searched for and are in your ad get highlighted in bold. This helps your ad stand out.
  3. Google only displays the most relevant ad. If you exclude your keyword from your ad, then Google is far less likely to display the ad.

What if you're using a range of keywords for the same ad? Then consider using dynamic keyword insertion. This means the keyword in your ad will automatically change based on what's been searched for. Of course, this also means you must take extra care when writing your ad copy, so all the potential keywords fit into the ad.

Relevancy also includes being as specific as you can. Let's say you specialize in selling blue suede shoes. Be loud and proud about that. Make it clear that you sell "Blue Suede Shoes" rather than any shoes.

Step 2. Tell Your Customers What's In It For Them

The copywriter Andy Maslen says that most people's minds are constantly tuned in to one radio station: WiiFM. In other words, people have one question on their mind—especially when they're browsing the web: "What's in it for me?"

To be a little more specific, your customers want to know two things when they read your ad:

  • How you can help them.
  • What they'll need to do to obtain that help.

Do your best to answer these questions in your ad. If your ad is for an ebook giveaway targeted at dog owners, include the copy "Download your free dog training ebook" in your ad. If you're promoting a language product, then "learn Spanish in 30 days" would be a good WiiFM statement.

Taking this approach also means you'll avoid a common copywriting mistake. When you're writing an ad, it can be tempting to focus on your business and all the amazing products that you sell. That's not the way to do things.

The best copy focuses on the reader. Your ad shouldn't be all about your business. It should be all about your customers and how you help them.

Step 3. Highlight any Discounts, Special Offers or Free Shipping

Running a special offer alongside your Adwords campaign can be a great way of pulling in new customers.

Specific price discounts (e.g. $10 off) typically perform better than percentage discounts (e.g. 25% off).

Also, be sure to mention if the offer is time-limited. Scarcity is really effective for driving sales.

It's worth noting that offers don't have to be about discounts. According to a study by Retention Science, offering Free Shipping is twice as effective at driving sales compared to a percent-off discount. The study of over 100 million online transactions found that a percent-off discount converted at between 0.1% and 0.8%. By comparison, free shipping converted at between 0.22% and 1.9%.

Step 4. State the Price

If you're using your ad to sell a single product or service (and that's a good idea, because it means you can be really specific in the keywords you target), then don't be afraid of stating the price.

This helps potential customers make a quick decision. If you're offering what they want, at a price that's right for them, then they're likely to click your ad.

Of course, before you do this—check what your competitors are charging. If you're not offering bargain prices (and there can be good reasons for that), then it can be worth getting the click first before you share the price. That way, you can explain what's better about your product or service, and why you're worth the extra money.

Step 5. Use CamelCase in Your URL

Adwords lets you choose the URL you'll display along with your ad, and it can be up to 35 characters.

Your best bet is to use your homepage URL, and to use CamelCase if it contains more than one word. For example, let's say your website is violetmoonmarketing.com. For your Adwords ad, you'd list this as VioletMoonMarketing.com. Much easier to read, hey?

5. Edit Your Ad Ideas

So far, you've written up as many different ad ideas as you can think of. You're almost ready to use your copy.

First, you need to do edit your ad. That means you should:

  • Pick the best candidates for your ad out of your ideas. It's worth choosing a few so you can test and see which ones perform best.
  • Edit the ads down so they fit the required character limit.
  • Double check your spelling and grammar. It's really good if you can write in complete sentences despite the strict limits on character count.

Once your ad is ready to go, you can run the campaign!

6. Check How Each Ad Performs

Like it or not, the copy you use can make a huge different on how an ad performs. That's why you should always test various versions of your ad to see which get the most clicks and conversions. Even experienced copywriters can be surprised by what works best.

What if you have more than one ad that performs well? Then continue to run them both, or see if you can combine the best parts of both of them to create an even better performing ad.

Once you've found an ad that works, continue to tweak it and test different variations. Even small changes can make a big difference.

In Conclusion

Copy matters. But taking action matters even more. So, don't wait until you've got the "perfect" ad before you run a campaign. Go write a great ad, and get it out there. You'll only see what's possible if you give it a try.

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