Whether looking to catch the eyes of casual customers, kick off a local sales drive or just raise awareness, small businesses need to advertise. Luckily for you, it’s never been easier to produce and publish high-quality promotional material.
Yet with great accessibility comes great competition, and there’s a staggering number of ads out there vying for customers’ attention. For yours to make an impact, they need to be crafted according to the principles that turn people’s heads.
We’ve put together a few copywriting tips and rules on how to write great ads that’ll spark attention and engage your target audience.
People don’t necessarily enjoy being advertised to, but every once in a while, they’ll see something that’ll help them do something they see as useful.
For a customer browsing online to click on your ad, she needs to believe that it’ll start her on a process that’ll make a particular facet of her life easier, whether that’s looking good, eating well or getting her bike repaired. If your product’s decent, you’ll be able to tell her straightforwardly how it’ll do so.
Think hard about who your target customer is, what you can help her achieve and what message she’ll be most receptive to.
David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising, had this to say about writing ads:
“5 times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar”.
Write your headline before you write anything else, as it’s the first thing that the bulk of your audience will see.
There’s no magic formula for writing a great headline, but what it’s absolutely got to do is grab people’s attention, suggest a solution to a particular challenge or desire, and compel people to keep reading.
Your Call To Action (CTA) is the last bit of your ad people will read. On a web ad, it’s the button at the end that tells the reader what to do next.
Before writing anything, you’ve got to decide what you want your prospective customer to do when she’s seen the ad. Do you want her to visit your website where she can find out more about you, or do you want her to go straight to your online store and buy something?
When deciding the phrasing of your CTA, it’s not a bad idea to stick to the classics (‘Click Here’, ‘Buy Now’, ‘Find Out More’ etc), though if you can find a more creative or bespoke way to say it that still leaves the reader in no doubt as to what they’ll get out of clicking it, then go ahead. But just remember, there’s no space for ambiguity here.
Keep in mind that people don’t buy your product for its own sake, but for what it can do for them. As legendary economist Theodore Levitt said, ‘people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole’!
Let’s say you’re advertising a torch. The customer viewing your ad doesn’t care about your torch itself - she wants to know whether it’s brighter, more lightweight or packs more battery life than others on the market.
Your ad copy shouldn’t just showcase your product, it should highlight the benefits of using it.
You’re going to want to run more than one ad. Each individual ad may have a slightly different purpose, but they’ve got to be written with a similar tone of voice and sensibility that matches your website copy, product descriptions and all other written material. Inconsistency will only confuse the customer and make you look unprofessional.
If this is the first time you’ve done this sort of thing, then take some time to think through what your present customer-facing material reads like, and what qualities you’d like it to convey.
Time is at a premium online, and your target audience will almost definitely be distracted by the next thing that speeds across their screens unless you get your most compelling messaging across as quickly as possible.
Be snappy, be precise and don’t waffle. You have limited space, but more importantly, you’ve got a very short time to make an impression. Minimise the number of words customers have to read before they understand your offer. Waste too much time, and you lose a customer
Effective ad copy has 3 fundamental qualities: it’s attention-grabbing, relevant to the customer’s needs, and brief.
If you’re a beginner, start practicing your copywriting with these tips now. After a bit of finessing you’ll know how to write great ads that’ll win you customers and raise your profile.
But if you want to get your name out sooner rather than later, our online advertising experts can write great copy for you across any format you like.
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