Last month, we generated over 100,000 paid clicks from Google, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Most of this engagement came from text-based ads which, on the face of it, acted as a simple gateway to the destination website.
But what makes one ad more clickable than the next?
Why do some ads perform better than others?
How can you become the brightest star in a cluttered galaxy of online ads?
In other words, what if you could achieve more by spending less.
In this article, I’m going to answer just that. Keep scrolling for five simple steps that will see you writing irresistible ad copy that works.
Our four prerequisites of writing powerful ad copy
- Don’t overthink it: The best ads are generally super simple and actionable. Always remember that the simpler you can make your copy while still conveying your necessary points, the better. Don’t overdo it.
- Describe your offering: Ambiguity can kill an ad. Be clear and direct. We live in an age of goldfish attention spans!
- Demonstrate the value: Ads that clearly outline to the viewer the benefits of clicking almost always perform better. Be explicit in how it’s a win for them.
- Use FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): A time-limited or restricted offer can work wonders for ad performance, helping to prompt the user to act where they otherwise wouldn’t.
Whenever you’re about to write some copy, come back to these. Nail them to the wall. Know them, learn them and love them – they’re the foundations of any successful advert or headline.
Capture more attention with these five tricks of the trade
We’re off to a great start; let’s kick things up a notch now. To stand out from the crowd here are five instant wins for grabbing your audience’s attention.
1. Start with a number
Numbers are mind candy.
According to a study carried out by Conductor, headlines that start with a number will often generate more attention than headlines that don’t.
The study concluded that, simply by adding a number at the beginning of an ad headline, click-through rate can improve by up to 36%.
Digital media company Outbrain collected data from 150,000 online articles and discovered that headlines using odd numbers generate 20% more engagement than those using an even number. Why? Who knows – but it works.
For extra impact, numbers are hot stuff when used as a social proof! For example, “5,000 happy customers agree”. You can tie this in with FOMO to make extra-compelling copy.
2. Length matters!
Another study by Outbrain found that headlines with 60-100 characters earn the highest click-through rate, with CTR declining below 60 or beyond 100 characters.
It also concluded that 80% of readers don’t make it past the headline of an ad.
Users of Google Ads will know that character limits restrict your ability to waffle, but not all platforms are the same. At the time of writing, Facebook doesn’t impose a character limit on sponsored posts. This has been extremely valuable because some of our most successful ads contained long-form copy.
Simply put, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Some will see better results from short-form ad copy and some from long-form. The trick is to test and test and test again, until you have enough data to make an informed decision.
3. Buzz phrases really, really work
Don’t underestimate the power of the buzz phrase.
Buzzsumo analysed 100 million headlines to determine the best (and worst) performing phrases from major publishers and consumer content posts on Facebook and Twitter.
The results concluded that, while ‘there is no magic formula’ to creating a popular headline, there are lessons we can learn to improve our ad engagement significantly.
So, what worked? First, let’s look at the top three starting phrases.
- X reasons why…
- X things you…
- This is what…
Think about these; why do they work? From our perspective, they’re brief, clear and speak directly to the reader.
Let’s throw emotion into the mix. Buzzsumo’s study highlighted these three high-performers.
- Tears of joy
- Make you cry
- Shocked to see
They’re more intense, aren’t they? Using just three ‘loaded’ words, we instantly hook the reader.
Time for the bad stuff. Here are the three phrases from the study that performed the worst.
- Control of your
- Your own business
- Work for you
Again, consider why these didn’t work. We think they’re bland and ‘tired’ – we’ve read this time and again across the internet and in physical marketing. It’s boring.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy here; testing and data analysis are the keys to understanding what works best for you.
4. Make use of negative feelings and emotions
It might come as a surprise to learn that ads featuring negative statements or emotional triggers often produce better results than positive ones.
This is because our brains are hard-wired to spot (and often ignore) adverts in amongst a busy sea of genuine organic content.
People are used to ‘the same old’. The use of superlatives like biggest, best, cheapest and easiest.
Syndrome from the movie The Incredibles described it best: “When everyone’s super, no one will be”.
Like a glitch in the matrix, statements that prey on negative emotion can literally force the brain to wake up. Here are a few examples.
- Fear: “Our Planet Is At Risk”
- Anger: “Claim What You’re Owed”
- Anxiety: “Don’t Get Left Behind”
- Guilt: “For Your Children’s Future”
Countless studies have shown us that, when done well, negative emotional triggers can produce positive results for advertisers.
A recent one found that negative ad headlines received a 69% higher click-through rate – a startling difference, to say the least!
It’s important to know your limits though; emotion can be a powerful catalyst in your attempts to formulate a potent message, but it can also backfire if taken too far. If you want to play with this trick, do it carefully and in a measured fashion.
5. Creating a sense of urgency
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a type of social proof that acts as a phycological trigger us humans are addicted to responding to.
Persuasion to act can be achieved with the use of urgent messages that tap into our audience’s innate fear of missing out, particularly on something great.
Studies have shown that we are more readily motivated by the idea of losing out than the idea of gaining.
It’s in our DNA to feel FOMO (the scientific term for which is loss aversion), so it can be a great psychological pull that will help give you better ad engagement.
Here are some examples.
- Time-limited offers
- Exclusive deals
- Limited stock (think Aldi best Buys)
- Celebrity endorsements that create social buzz
- Bundled and cross-sell packages only available at the time of purchase
One of our most effective FOMO tools is a simple ad countdown timer that we built to create a sense of urgency. The concept is simple: if the user doesn’t click the ad before the timer hits zero they will miss the offer.
Contact us to learn more about the ad countdown timer.
Let’s wrap this up!
We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s article. It’s our hope that these five steps will assist you on your way to writing irresistible ad copy that sells.
Before you know it, you’ll be writing your own irresistible headlines like it’s nothing.
If you fancy a chat about any of this with us, don’t be shy. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01635 800868; we don’t bite!