How to Write Engaging Ad Copy That Stands Out

Shelby Nousain - June 2, 2016

Good marketing is about standing out, and standing out is about doing things differently than everyone else. In the world of search engine marketing, one of the biggest opportunities to stand out is by writing engaging ad copy. Let’s take a look at one strategy for writing ad copy that stands out when you’re faced with competitors all using the same messaging.

The Link Between Engaging Ad Copy and Lower CPC’s

The benefits to writing engaging ad copy are significant. One of the methods search engines use for determining cost-per-click (CPC) is through a Quality Score metric; a score based on relevancy of the landing page, overall health of your account, how well aligned your ad copy is to what the searcher is looking for, and click-through rate. Click-through rate is one of the most powerful factors to focus on when trying to decrease CPC.

When click-through rates increase, so do quality scores, and this, in turn, helps drive down CPC’s.

The Problem With Too Many Text Ads

Ad differentiation can be a big challenge in SEM. As marketers manage higher and higher volumes of campaigns, keywords, and ad copy it’s common that adequate time isn’t devoted to drafting, critiquing, and improving ad messaging. Far too often this results in a list of undifferentiated, boring ad copy that doesn’t separate you from your competitors.

Let’s take a look at an example of someone searching for “tax software”. From the screenshot below we can see that nearly all ads are the same, and two even have the exact same headline!

Google SERP headline repetition among competitors


4 Steps To Writing Ad Copy That Stand Out

So let’s talk about a technique to help your ads stand out. One of the best methods for doing this is to include value added text in the headline. As we can see in the above example, advertisers often write headlines that focus on what they offer, rather than why a user should select them over a competitor. This results in multiple brands all promoting in the headline field “Tax Software”, or some variation thereof. This is boring, monotonous, and underwhelming ad copy to searchers.

To help ads stand out, try flipping the messaging. Include value added text in the headline, followed by what the product or service delivers in the description.

Here’s a 4 step process on how to implement this:

First, it’s important to understand your customer and what pain points they experience on a day-to-day basis. Keep in mind, for search-based traffic you may inherently know their pain point based on what they’re searching for. If they include modifiers in their query such as “enterprise”, “cheapest”, “fastest”, etc., then we can further pinpoint who they are, and anticipate what their needs may be.

Second, make a list of all the value-added phrases associated with your business, product, or service. Are you the lowest cost, quickest, highest quality?

Third, for each of your campaigns and ad groups list the most appropriate value-added phrases that this particular audience would engage with. These are your new ad headlines.

Fourth and finally, head on over to Google and plug in a few of your high volume search terms. You’ll very quickly be able to determine whether your ads will pop out amongst your competitors.

With this process in mind, let’s go back to our tax software example to see if we can create a few more engaging headlines. With a quick browse through the ad’s description text, and landing pages, it’s easy find a few value added phrases; all of which fit perfectly within the character limits of headline text:

“Pay Only When You File”
“Time Savings Features”
“Free Full-Featured Demo”

Creating ads that stand out should be a critical piece of your SEM strategy. After all, you can’t gain a new customer if they never make it to your website in the first place.

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