PPC Ad Copy Creation: Where To Start?

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Last week’s post on ad copy testing prompted some thought-provoking discussion in the comments. My friend Jerry Nordstrom asked:

When you are creating ad variations what is your primary driver of each iteration?
Keyword intent? Keyword volume? Overall ad intent? Dynamic or Mobile only ads?

This was such a good question that I thought it deserved its own post. Here’s how I approach PPC ad copy creation.

Make sure your ad groups are tightly themed.

This may sound like it has nothing to do with ad copy, but it actually has everything to do with it. If your ad groups contain large groups of diverse keywords, writing relevant ad copy is going to be darn near impossible. With small, tightly themed ad groups, the ad copy nearly writes itself.

Let the overall intent drive your call to action.

Even now in 2015, I see a lot of ads that lack a strong call to action. They’re either full of semi-boring facts and features, or they’re trying to be funny and creative – yet they forgot the most important part, which is to tell the searcher what you want them to do! Go back to your campaign goals, review your landing page, and then tell people what you want them to do in the ad copy.

Incorporate the keyword into the copy whenever possible.

I’ve seen this done well, and done poorly. Keywords for the sake of keywords, or excessive use of dynamic keyword insertion, puts ad copy into eBay territory. But I do recommend getting the keyword into the ad if you can. It may sound old-school, but getting that bolded copy you get when the keyword shows up in the ad is still valuable.

Take keyword volume into account.

This isn’t a primary driver for me, but I do usually focus on the highest-volume keyword in the ad group when writing PPC ad copy. It’s efficient, for one thing; and it tends to perform best.

Take device and user actions on said device into account.

You probably know by now that the clients I work on are primarily B2B lead generation advertisers. Many of our clients get most of their leads over the phone. So when I’m writing mobile ad copy, I make sure to use something like “Call Us!” as a call to action. For desktop ads, I’ll say “Learn More” or “Get The Free Report” or something along those lines.

Some advertisers will find that mobile users are looking for something totally different from desktop users. Take “dominos pizza,” for example. Desktop searchers might be looking for a menu, a location nearby, or even information on the company headquarters. But mobile searchers probably are starving and want to order a pizza right now. Craft your device-specific PPC ad copy carefully.

All of the above are just starting points, mind you. Always test and refine – what works for me, or even one campaign in an account, may not work in another. Test, test, test!

How do you craft PPC ad copy? What’s your #1 go-to tip? Share in the comments!

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  1. When writing ad copy you can easily get into a rut. In the past I’ve fallen in love with words like “perfect” or CTAs like “call now.” I’ve found inspiration from outside the PPC world by reading. And no, not business books, but fiction. Books have to paint pictures with words. They weave stories that evoke emotion. That’s the ideal with your ad copy & LP copy; you just have to condense it. So my advice is to do some reading!

  2. It’s important to get into your prospects head. We had great success with a dentist’s campaign when we wrote ads for a busy time we had identified – Monday mornings. We realised that someone looking for a dentist on a Monday morning is not the same as someone looking on a Wednesday afternoon. You probably put off calling on Thursday or Friday, hoping that the pain would go away. It didn’t – in fact, it got worse. By Monday morning the urgency is significantly higher.

    We wrote an ad that included the line – We’ll try and squeeze you in today – and got a real CTR boost…

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Steve, great example of identifying pain points and addressing them in ad copy. This could also be a case for ad customizers and/or ad scheduling. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I usually ask my colleagues of different marketing channels for good phrases, headlines, newsletter subjects and alike to get an inspiration. I try to get out of the beaten path by writing ads that are the most opposite of the current ones to find appealing new texts. Also – I keep track of I what I already wrote and tested before. Biggest takeaway: the best ad is never the one you thought it would be.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Another excellent suggestion. I usually ask at least one coworker to write a few ad variations for me. And “do the opposite” is a great tactic as well. So many times I’ve found the ad I hated actually performs best. 🙂

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