June 15, 2021

How to Write Advertising Copy that Converts

Because your company is paying for ads, it’s vital you see results from them. You need ROI in order to justify investing in that channel. 

However, with increasing levels of competition for attention online, it’s not easy to get audiences to notice your ads and take the time to read them and follow-through. 

There are three main obstacles ad copywriters face when trying to create content that converts: balancing information with length requirements, grabbing audience attention and compelling the reader to take action.

I spoke with Senior Copywriter Grant Burfeind about how to overcome those challenges.

How to Effectively Convey Information While Accommodating Length Requirements

Ad copy should aim to address the problem of the reader and provide a solution — which is difficult to do in 280 characters or less. 

“Speaking from personal experience, as copywriters we want to be eloquent, and we have a tendency to ramble. You really can’t afford to ramble when it comes to ad copy. It locks you into very rigid requirements,” Grant says.

Ads require you to hone in on what’s the most important thing to convey and write only that. 

“With your ads, know what needs to be said, and just as important as that, know what doesn’t need to be said,” Grant says. “That means having a good sense of the ‘why’ behind your ads and the main pain points that the ad is solving for. Taking the time to understand the ultimate desired outcome from your ad copy is going to help you develop content that doesn’t have any fluff and gets right to the point.”

Having a good understanding of your target audience will help you determine what needs to be said in order to position your desired outcome in a way that resonates with the reader.

“Put yourself in the shoes of the person reading your ad,” Grant says. “Where does that person work? What’s their job title? What are the pain points they’re experiencing at work? Once you have a clear idea of who your target audience is, you can start to make the connection between their problems and the value props you’re providing with your ad.”

Additionally, don’t let the need for brevity prevent you from getting words on a page. If the length requirements are stopping you from writing, then push them aside as you work on your first draft. Then as you revise it, identify extraneous words and phrases to cut with every pass until you meet your desired length.

Download the Ultimate Paid Search Checklist to Construct a Paid Advertising  Strategy and Optimize Your PPC Ad Spend.

How to Write Ad Copy that Will Compel the Reader to Take Action

The same principles that help you keep your ads concise, understanding your audience and the goal of the ad, will also help you write effective copy that convinces readers to take your desired outcome.

Start by putting yourself in the reader’s shoes:

  • What’s causing them the most stress at work? 
  • What’s really hindering them from being as successful as possible?
  • What challenges are they seeking help with?

“Instead of discussing product or service specifics, focus on the emotional benefits of your ad,” Grant says. “When you’re thinking about a company and the value they provide, you have a tendency to immediately write about product features, service offerings, or years of experience. That’s all great information to promote as the reader gets further down the funnel, but right off the bat, before you discuss the ins and outs of a product, you first need to boil everything down to the human problem you’re solving with your advertisement. What about that product or service is going to make the reader’s professional life better and easier?”

Use language that shows an understanding of the reader’s problems and is compassionate.

“Making an emotional connection between the ad and the reader will be much more effective than just listing out those product features,” Grant advises. “Your ad needs to demonstrate that you understand their problem and have just what they need to help them out.”

When you have a thorough understanding of the value your solution provides, it can be tricky to zoom out from the more granular benefits. However, the ultimate benefit your solution provides to users shouldn’t be super complicated or technical. 

For example, “We save engineers time” is a simple message addressing the human-centric problem being solved. But if you wrote “Our advanced automation, top-rated security and customizable integration ecosystem increases productivity for engineers” you’re taking attention away from the ultimate value you provide. 

While the simpler message doesn’t include the “how,” it’s more relatable. Readers will see a problem they have and want to know more about how you can help them solve it. Whereas with the second message, if the reader hasn’t already identified those features as solutions they’re looking for, they likely won’t be interested in clicking on your ad.

How to Entice Audiences to Read Your Ads

You only have an instant to capture audiences’ attention as they scroll through social media, browse a website or scan search results. One of the most difficult aspects of ad copy can be getting your target audience to give your ad the time of day.

“When we’re scrolling, we see a lot of words. So mix things up with your ad copy. Statistics or numbers can be a really helpful way to catch the reader's eyes and draw them in,” Grant recommends. “Providing some sort of figure that’s relevant to the reader’s pain points or their industry can be a great way to cut through the clutter and grab their attention.”

Another aspect to consider is what copy you use for different areas of the ad. You’ll have body copy, headline copy and display copy to work with. While all of those text fields should work together to ultimately lead to a conversion, some will stand out more than others.

“Display copy is text that’s going to appear over your ad image, and often, that’s going to be really effective in catching the reader’s attention versus your body copy,” Grant says.

By default, viewers’ eyes will be more drawn toward colorful, artistic imagery. So including a catchy one-liner or statistic in your display copy can go a long way toward gaining attention, converting it into interest and getting a viewer to read the rest of your ad.

The Takeaway

Writing effective ad copy comes down to knowing your audience and the goal of your ad then positioning your message in a way that’ll resonate with your audience in as concise a manner as possible. While copy that is fun and emotionally resonant will go a long way toward accomplishing that, it’s important to not let the catchiness of your ad copy interfere with your ability to get conversions.

“At the end of the day, your ad could get someone to laugh or be genuinely interested in what they just read, but if they don’t take the intended action and move down the funnel, your ad has come up short,” Grant says.

So while you do want to focus on an emotional connection with readers, there also needs to be a clear connection between the ad copy and the CTA

“You need to make sure what you’re writing is going to make for a seamless transition into whatever that conversion point is,” Grant says.

Check out our paid search checklist

Quinn Kanner

Quinn is a writer and copyeditor whose work ranges from journalism to travel writing to inbound marketing content.


Ready to jumpstart your acquisition, retention and expansion efforts?

Request Assessment