How to Write Compelling Ad Copy: The Ultimate Guide

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Create compelling ad copy and increase sales with the tips and tricks in our ultimate guide. Understanding how to write effective copy is crucial to widening the reach and potential of your business.


Compelling ads are designed to get your target audience to respond or take an action. Since it’s easy to get reviews of products online, customers do a lot more research on products and an ad has to be convincing, answer questions and address possible objections. 


Effective ads do this within a short space of time and space, as consumers scan web pages, newspapers, or magazines. Make sure your potential customers immediately know how your products or services can help them and focus on key benefits to hook and engage them. 


Powerful copy increases conversions and makes your business more profitable. Find out how to craft persuasive and innovative ad copy in our guide below.



What to Consider Before Writing Ad Copy

To get to the point where your effective ad copy entices customers to click your call to action, gather information about your target audience and where your ads will be displayed. Both of these are the foundation of your work and are dependent on each other, as you need to know who you’re writing for to find the best placement for your advertisement.


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Market research combined with metrics from Google Analytics or social media insights can give you an idea of who your target audience is. Just like with any other piece of copywriting, once you have customer personas in mind, you can think about where they’ll be reading or hearing your ad copy. 


This determines whether you’re going to write for print, radio, TV, or online media. This location determines how much space or time you have for your ad. The language you’re using should always be in line with your brand guidelines but also varies according to the medium you’re going for. Opportunities to track success also vary with the location of your ads and are more or less detailed.


For example, Google ads follow a certain format that is different to print ads. In addition to that, Google provides detailed metrics that are much easier to measure than results from an ad placed in a magazine. 


Consider these background elements of your ad before you get started writing to have a clear direction and structure for your copy.



Craft Enticing Headlines

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You only have a few seconds to catch your target audience’s attention. To create an eye-catching headline that draws in potential customers, use one of the following techniques in your ad copy:


  • Ask a thought-provoking question that makes potential customers want to read more.
  • Offer a solution to their problems that is related to your products or services.
  • Particularly in online advertising, make sure you use keywords that answer your audience’s search query.
  • Think outside the box and make a bold statement or craft a funny headline.
  • Use numbers, statistics, and discounts for shock value or to craft an attractive headline.



Keep it Short and Simple


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Even before the fast-paced and attention span shortening online world, an effective advertising technique was to be concise and to the point. Short slogans were and are still used on billboards to capture attention as people drive by. Online your message has to be short and simple to stop potential customers from scrolling past your ad.


Narrow down the benefits of your products or services to one key message you want to get across and use that as the foundation of your ad. Depending on the location of your ad, you can add some more information but leave more details to a landing page that interested customers can click through to.


Focus on Customer Benefits and Address Pain Points


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Instead of proudly listing all features, think about the benefits your customers get from using your products. This automatically gets you thinking about how you solve their problems. Brainstorm and research what your target audience’s needs and pain points are.


Make your findings the focus when creating ad copy. Tell potential customers how your products or services improve their lives and ensure you’re talking directly to them. Use active voice and the more personal ‘you’ instead of ‘we’, which puts distance between your business and your customers.


Using ‘we’ is an indicator that you slipped back into making your company the focal point rather than your target audience. Effective ad copy focuses on customer needs instead of pointing out the performance of your business.


Evoke Emotions to Spur Your Readers into Action

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To stop your potential customers in their tracks, when they’re just walking or scrolling past your ad, make sure you're tapping into their emotions. Provoking strong emotions like joy, fear, or anger can become triggers that make them read on or click through.


To make your ad copy emotional, know your customer personas and write from their perspectives. Ensure you balance the reaction you want to achieve to attract attention with the rest of your message to avoid any negative associations with your brand.


If you’re considering using anger, disgust, or fear for shock value, handle these negative emotions with care. Make sure you also highlight benefits or use aspirational language to balance your audience’s emotional response.


Follow the AIDA Formula

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Advertisers, who write effective ad copy use the AIDA formula for short ads of about three to four sentences. AIDA stands for


  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Decision
  • Action


Applying these to your copy means that the first sentence grabs attention with a bold statement. Your second sentence provides interesting information about your products or services that reels in your target audience. Add a third sentence that speaks to your potential customers’ desires and guides them towards making a decision like the solution to a problem or an incentive that improves their lives.


This technique is particularly useful in online marketing where marketers have to grab attention quickly, as busy users move between search results and websites. Always conclude your ad with a call to action that creates a sense of urgency. If you’re writing for an online audience, our pro tip is to perform A/B testing and vary the calls to action in your ad to see which one performs better.


Incorporate Keywords to Get Found Online

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Instead of stuffing the body copy of your ad with keywords for the search engine algorithm, consider searcher intent to use the right amount and combination of keywords naturally. Think about what kind of information your potential customers are looking for.


If you’re unsure, keyword research and your customer personas can reveal more. It’s better to focus on readability and usability before search engine optimization. For online ads, find a balance between keywords and your target audience’s intentions and queries to create compelling ad copy.


Make Sure Your Copy Aligns with Your Ad Design

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To create a coherent story that attracts your target audience, make sure your copy works with the visuals of your ad. The components of your ad like headline, description, and call to action should be in line with your image and the key message you want to get across.


To do this successfully, everyone on the team who’s working on your ad needs to be clear about your goals and strategy. Ensure constant collaboration between writers and designers to align copy and image. By the end of that process, the visual should underline and further communicate the call to action of your ad.


If you don’t have in-house designers for your display ads, consider using royalty-free stock photos to create your ads. Search for images that fit your campaign in our vast PikWizard library and use tools like our Add Text to Image feature to add your copy.


Add Social Proof

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Social proof builds on the concept that consumers adjust their behavior according to what other people are doing. There are different types of social proof you can incorporate into your ads.


If an expert-approved your products or a celebrity-endorsed your business, mention it in your ad copy. Creating your ads can also be part of a collaboration with an influencer or content creator. In this case, ensure your copy aligns with the tone of your brand and the influencer.


User testimonials and business credentials like awards and certifications are a great way to build trust. If you don’t have that yet, see if there have been any positive reports about your business in the press and quote them in your ad copy.


Apply FOMO to Compel Consumers into Action

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Fear of missing out or FOMO is all about that dreadful feeling you get when you think you’re being left behind or left out. Apply this principle to your ad copy to create a sense of losing out and scarcity, which entices potential customers to buy.


Limited offers and special discounts that only last for a certain amount of time compel consumers into action. This approach tries to convince them that this is their only chance to get a good deal.



Ask Questions

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You only have a few seconds to hook your reader before they walk or scroll past your heading and opening line. Begin your ad with a question that reels in your readers by making them think about an answer. The natural appetite for a resolution is your hook and if you’re writing a long-form ad, you can also keep potential customers reading with questions dotted throughout your body copy.


There are different types of questions you can ask depending on what kind of action you want your target audience to take:


  • Literal questions: If you’re using this type, make sure you ask about something your prospects care about enough to want to know the answer. Then provide them with your answer that highlights benefits.
  • Open-ended questions: Prompt thoughts and emotions with this type but be careful to not ask too broad questions that make your audience drift off to distant places in their minds and away from what you’re advertising.
  • Rhetorical questions: Use these for dramatic effect rather than as a cue to find an answer. In this case, the resolution is obvious. Although you’re directing your audience to this obvious answer, this technique makes them feel like they’ve come to their own conclusion.
  • Yes or no questions: This may seem like a simple type of question but can be a powerful tool to reinforce a point you want to make. Use this type to make your potential customer feel great as they confirm their opinions with their answer.


Create Persuasive and Innovative CTAs

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Your call to action or CTA is the part of your ad that takes potential customers to the landing page you want them to go to or makes it clear what the next step is in print ads. Ensure your CTA is easy to understand but don’t keep it too simple.


Be straightforward but also creative. Think about what you want customers to do when they click or read your ad. Apply your brand identity to this action to come up with a compelling CTA that is unique to your business turning your ad into branded content.


Use strong action verbs like join, subscribe, or download in a different way. An interesting CTA makes you stand out from any competitors who go for the usual phrases like ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Shop Online Today’.


Use Long-Form Ad Content to Overcome Objections

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Particularly online, customers usually go through a research phase on their buyer’s journey. They’re looking for more details about products or services and compare them to your competitors. A long-form ad containing more information is the best way to overcome any of the objections potential customers might still have during the research stage.


Your long-form ad can be the size of a short blog with 300 to 500 words giving more details about your products or services. In print media, this is known as an advertorial that is written in an editorial style and focuses on a particular product to increase visibility and sales.


Use A/B Testing to Improve Your Ad Copy

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A/B Testing is an effective way to compare ads and learn about your target audience’s preferences. Create two versions and vary your copy to see which elements work best. Use a different CTA or headline and run a test to see which is more effective.


You might be surprised by the results, which makes testing an important part of the process. Look at the metrics you get to adjust your ads and drop the one that doesn’t perform as well as the other. These results also tell you what your audience really wants and you can apply what you’ve learned to your next campaign.