Advanced Pay Per Click (PPC) Certification Program

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Creating Compelling Ad Copy, Part 1: Connecting Search Queries to Websites Tutorial

1.2 Introduction

Hi, this is Brad Geddes, the author of Advanced Google AdWords, the founder of Certified Knowledge, and the PPC Faculty Chair for Market Motive. In this module, we're going to look at ad copy writing, and how to write compelling ads, that not only get clicks, but set the proper expectations so you also receive conversions after someone clicks on an ad.

1.3 From Ad Copy to Websites

An Ad Copy serves as a bridge between a consumer thought process of trying to find the answer to a question and your website. There's a lot of things an ad needs to do to be successful. It needs to promote your goals for success, utilize your product or your services' uniqueness, showcase product benefits to consumers, display product features, identify with the consumer, and finally, direct the consumer to take action.

1.4 Searching for Answers

When running ads, you always need to think back to the searcher. This is true not just for running ad copy, but also in choosing landing pages and even keywords. When people are searching, they don't know the answer. That's why they're searching. Help the searcher out by creating clear and informative ads. Most ads are ambiguous and intense. They lead a searcher in circles, without ever providing assistance. Give clear direction in your ad copy. Most people don't want to be told what to do. However, that's a true statement when you have an idea of what you want to accomplish. When we don't know the answer, we're more likely to follow directions and listen to someone telling us what to do. So as a marketer, you should be laying out a clear path, so the searcher can find the answer. Now an ad's real job is to draw attention to itself. The ad should set the proper expectations for what the searcher is going to find on the landing page after they click on the ad. And finally, the ad should get the click. This is really what your ad needs to do. And there's a lot of components to creating a successful ad. And just remember an ad does not make a sale. Your landing page makes the sale. An ad sets the expectations, and drives traffic to your sites.

1.5 Unique Selling Proposition

Your business needs to stand out. A unique selling proposition, often called USP, showcases what is unique about your business, why someone should do business with you. Instead of the other 12 ads on the page. There are hundred of accounts in Chicago. So, what makes them standout? Some examples would be in person meetings. They have email supports. Their Peachtree specialists. They handle both businesses and individuals. They just have stations across multiple state. They handle international taxation so forth. A USP could be that you're local. This is useful when most of your competitors are national companies. If you don't know what's unique about your business, how will a search realize, you're the best company for them? So, you need to determine what's unique about your business and promote that uniqueness to searchers.

1.6 Features Vs Benefits

Now there's two commonly confused aspects of ad copy, and it's important to look through these two components. Features and benefits, and see the difference. We've looked at features and benefits briefly, when talking about the buying cycle. Now we're going to go through them both in a little more detail. A feature, is just a bullpoint list of items. It's a factual statement about a product or service. For instance, my computer, it's a Sony Z Vaio. It has a 7.5 hour battery life. It has a 512mb graphics card. It has 8gb of memory. It has a 128gb SSD drive. It weighs 3.3 lbs. Are you bored yet? Features are boring. While we do compare products based upon features, features don't make sales. Instead of running just features, think about benefits. Benefits are why a product or service will make your customer's life better. So let's look at the same product again. And instead of just saying at it's a seven and a half hour battery, say you can be productive on a cross country flight. Who cares it has a graphics card? That doesn't really mean much to most people. Oh, you can watch HD video on the computer and have some enjoyment on a cross-country flight passing the time. Or you can play high-demand graphical games when you need a break from the office. Inexpensive storage. You don't need an external drive. You can get rid of back and shoulder pain from carrying a heavy laptop bag. These are benefits that makes someone's life better. Now features are easy to come up with. You look at a product, start writing down a bullet point list, that's pretty easy. To turn the feature into a benefit, just finish the sentence. My computer has a 7.5 hour battery. Who cares? The 7.5 hour battery life so you can be productive on a cross country flight. It has 8 gigs of memory. Who cares? Well, 8 gigs of memory, so you can analyze over a million rows of Excel files and in VLOOKUP table. So benefits are why we buy products. So when ad copy, if you're in doubt about what's right, write benefits statements.

1.7 The Buying Cycle

Now it's important then, if you've broken out your keywords by where someone is in the buying cycle, then look through the keywords in that ad group. And the keywords in an ad group should be closely related and all of them should occur in one section of the buy cycle. Therefore, for your learn-based words, includes features and benefits. If it's a shop-and-comparison word, include a lot of features. If it's a buy-based word, include more benefits. So when you start to think about where the consumer is in their buying process based upon the keywords they're searching for. Then look at the ads you're writing to make sure your ad is using the proper benefits or feature statements based upon where someone is in that buying cycle.

1.8 Instruct What to Do Next

You know, an ad also should tell someone what to do next. It's known as a Call To Action. Many would argue that a Call To Action is the most important element of your ad copy. While there may not be a most important element. If a searcher skips over an ad because the headline was not compelling, the best call to action in the world really doesn't matter. However, a call to action is something you really should consider when creating ads. What is the goal of your ad? The goal is to get a click, but only if it's the correct click. So the ad tells someone what to expect after the click. In addition, it can be used to tell someone what to do after the click. So using a call to action in your ad copy, and then matching that call to action on the landing page, should increase conversion rates. Ads without call to actions are just messages to read. Ads with calls to action, are directions that lead a searcher to convert on your website. If possible, try to combine a benefit message with your call to action. A call to action, subscribe to our newsletter. It's kind of boring. Let's not use that. Let's say, when our call to action with a benefit is let's sign up for powerful marketing tips. Sign up is still a call to action but what would you rather receive? Another newsletter, more email clogging up your inbox, or powerful marketing tips you can receive to increase your return on investment? That's a benefit combined with a call to action. because it's easy for ads to be lost in the crowd. So don't just go copy the other ads on a page. Copies are easy for markers to identify, but impossible for a search to determine what's a better product, or what ad will connect them to the type of service they're really looking for.

1.9 Examine Search Results

It can be useful though to go ahead and look at some of your competitor ads. So if all the ads look the same, and it's pretty common to see a lot of ads that are fairly similar. If everyone's using prices, then don't use a price. If everyone says free shipping, focus on something else like a customer service. Be different. So an exercise you can go through to start finding areas where you can be different from your competition is look through the ads and make a list of your benefits. Then list your competitor's benefits that they're showcasing in their ads right now. Find areas where you're strong. You can offer the benefits, and no one else is offering them now. They're weak in their current ad copy. Then test ads focused on those benefits, that gap between what you can offer, which your competitors are not saying they can offer. So let's examine some actual ads and take away some best practices for writing ad copy. Words on a search page in either the organic or the ad copy are bolded when they match the search query. Therefore, putting your keyword in the ad copy, especially the headline, can be useful as your ad will be bolded. Now this is true only if you're using multiple word keywords. If you have one word keywords in your ad copy, don't just put a one line headline. That's a terrible ad. There's many results where every headline's the same. A good place to start to get your keywords into your headline is if you chose two root words for each of your ad groups. So these root words are modified to create the other keywords in the ad group, but you have a two root basis. Take those two words, put them in the ad. Now add a modifier to those words, whether it's buy your product name and the root words, whether it's learn more about the product name or the service name from your root words. Take those two root words, put them into the ad, and then add additional items around those words. Now unfortunately, most ads are just bad. Every single year, and I've done this for nine, ten years now, I look for big screen televisions during Super Bowl week. Super Bowl week is one of the largest sale periods for big screen TVs. In all the years I've been looking at this, only once have I ever seen an ad copy that used the word Super Bowl in the ad, once ever. That was a Walmart ad. Now, technically, the word Super Bowl is trademarked. So you may have issues getting that in the ad copy, and we'll talk about trademarks in a little bit. However, you could say, watch the big game in high definition. Gather your friends around your new large television set for the big game this weekend. That's something that you can put in ad copy. So using topical ads can be useful. Whether it's a Valentine's Day, a Mother's Day, whether it's wedding season in the spring, whether it's summer vacations and cruises in the fall, use topical based ads. Now there's not always a hot topic, and sometimes you have too many ads to manage when you're running a lot of specials. So in those cases, pause the ads, the ones you're going to use when the special's over. Write new ads that only run during that seasonal time. And then unpause your old ads when the season's over or when that event is passed. But if there are ways to get topical based information, something more recent, a holiday coming up, the Boston marathon, it doesn't matter, any event. Now your ads are more specific to the user based around other events happening in their life. Now many marketers are lazy and rely on a tactic called dynamic keyword insertion, which allows you to automatically add keywords to the ad copy. We'll cover DKI, dynamic keyword insertion, in depth a little bit later. However, when you use tactics such as dynamic keyword insertion, you still need to make sure your ads are using proper grammar. This top ad is capital N, lowercase y, lowercase c Real Estate. Now if you're from New York, you probably don't want to see an ad that can't even get the acronym of your city correct. It's sloppy work. So in addition, on this page not all the ads even have a clear message. The top right ad, Buy New York Now. What does that mean? Is New York State for sale? It's a pretty ambiguous ad. The best ad on this page might be the one for Upper West Site Apts. And it's still not a great ad. But it's clear what they do and where they are. The location below the ad clearly shows their target area. And one thing that could be improved is their second line, New Listings Daily. Instead something like, come browse our listings, or new listings daily, take a peek. Just anything more as they have quite a few characters left in that ad to try to do something else with. It's not hard to beat the competition at writing. A little thought, a thesaurus, and some testing will let you create excellent ads over time.

1.10 Calls to Action Are Important!

As I mentioned earlier, calls to action are important. It tells someone what to do after the click. Unfortunately, very few ads contain a clear call to action. These ads give you some information, but overall they do not tell you what to do next. They're kind of boring ads. Three of them have the same headline. Now not all ads need a call to action. It's something you should test. If the second ad, Seattle Rent House, could use a better headline, like Rent a House in Seattle, and went on to say save yourself time by searching by location, price, or number of bedrooms, then it would've included a feature and a benefit statement. So it might not need a call to action. However just by looking at a few search results for your keywords, it's not hard to see with a little bit of effort, you can often beat the competition just based upon writing better ad copy. It took me hundreds of searches to find just one good screenshot of ad copy. Now I was sort of proud of our industry to say it was for the term website marketing, great. But the ads on this page are all very different from each other. Some use numbers. Others talk about experience. Others showcase ease of use, guaranteed results, or pre-qualify the user. It's a great set of results for the searcher as well. Why? because the page is full of choice. The ads are different. The messages are different. The user can choose what benefits, features, and USPs are most important to them. That's why testing's important, consumers are in control. Now you should note, different types of ads will be compelling to different types of people. So there's no best ad copy. There's only a best ad copy in relationship to what you're trying to accomplish with your marketing. So it's essential to test ads, messages, and measure results. And we'll look at later modules how to test ad copy. People respond better to ads when they think you're going to take a personal interest in them. Now none of these ads are necessarily fantastic, but this top ad copy, Choose your LG TV Today! By including the word your, they've now spoken to you. This other ad from Sears, Experience Stunning Picture Quality with Plasma TVs at Sears. Shop now! Well it's not a terrible ad except the fact that LG, the top ad, and Sears are both using the word stunning in their ad copy. So someone grabbed a dictionary or a thesaurus, looked up some words, and both chose stunning. In this case, don't use the word stunning, try something different. Don't use the same adjectives as your competition.

1.11 Anatomy of Ad Copy

So now it's time to look at the anatomy of an ad copy. There's four parts of an ad copy. We're going to identify the four parts here. And then we'll look at each aspect of the ad in depth. So, first, you have the headline. Next, you have description line one. Then description line two. Then display URL. So these are the four aspects of Ad Copy.

1.12 Headline

And we'll look at the headline. The headline's goal is to bring attention to the ad. So, in search results, the words in the query are bolded. So using your root keywords in the ad can be useful. But the headline's goal is to draw attention, so someone starts looking, item scripts line one and item scripts line two. So, the rest of your can ad can convince them to click on your ad and to go to your site so you can sell them something.

1.13 Description Line 1

For Description Line 1, you should focus on features and / or benefits, based upon where someone is in the buying cycle. But also test USPs at this point in time. If you offer something that's truly unique from your competition, your USP may be better than a feature or a benefit as Description line 1. What you need to do is give the user a reason to keep reading the ad. Now, if you're making these ads on Google AdWords, always end Description Line 1 with a punctuation mark. The reason why, is this a screenshot of the AdWords interface. If we look at the ad copy here, when it's all squished together at the top of the ad, Achieve Your Online Marketing Goals, One Day Only, Register Online Now. Well, Achieve Your Online Marketing Goals, One Day Only is not a real clear thought. When ads get moved to above the organic results, Description Line 1 and Description Line 2 become one continuous line. So, you want to end it with a punctuation mark. There's also a second reason on AdWords to add a punctuation mark. When Description Line 1 ends in a period or punctuation mark, then Google takes Description Line 1, moves it up to part of the headline, and you end up with a very, very long headline. These definitely stand out on Google search results.

1.14 Description Line 2

Description line two. Things to think about. Focus on call to action. Try ending the call to action with an exclamation point. This is your chance to convince someone to click on your ad. Now most paid search programs only allow you to have one exclamation point per ad copy. So, and usually you can't use it in the headline. Generally, using that one exclamation point in the description line 2 is a good place. because someone got that far in your ad. They read your headline. They read your description line one. They had read description line two. The description line two gave them a call to action. An exclamation point told them to do it right now. So, I click on an ad and get to the site.

1.15 Display URL

And the forth of ad copy is the display URL, this is often overlooked, the display URL tells someone where they're going after the click. So don't think of this as just a URL, think of it as marketing copy that must contain your domain name. Often when you look at a heat map of where someone's eyes actually look at the ad copy, generally the most looked at item in an ad is the headline. The second most looked at item's often display URL because we want to know where we're going after the click. What's going to happen? Take the display URL, IBM has millions of pages on their site. Knowing you're going to IBM is not very useful, if the display URL was, suddenly the display URL is useful to the consumer. As they'll know they'll be directed to the blade server page after the click and not just IBM's home page when they might have to search again even to find their information. Now often when you see display URLs, they're like the third one,, they're just product folders or service folders. You can do a lot with this, it does not have to be an actual URL, the root domain you're using must be the same as where the user goes, the rest of this is marketing copy. So in this top ad,, you're now reinforcing it's Compare All Bluetooth Headsets, it's a comparison page, good place for someone in a shopping cycle. So with display URLs, you can play with them, now it's also important with display URLs, and this goes beyond AdWords to print media, television and so forth. Capitalize the first letter of each word in your URL because if you don't you leave the URL's interpretation up to the user. This is where you want to make sure someone is seeing exactly what you want them to see are you a blog commenting site or a sex change forum? That's two really big differences, now Google currently is lower casing an entire root domain. After the slash, you can use uppercase and lowercase characters if it meets editorial policy. Other paid search engines still let you do uppercase and lowercase letters, but if you're doing print and TV and other media, keep this in mind, just uppercase the first letter of each word.

1.16 Mobile Preference

Now when ad also has a mobile preference flag associated to it. This is really important when your campaigns are set to be on both mobile devices and desktop devices. So if you're on both devices, what you'll want is at least one ad with the mobile flag, and at least one ad with the desktop flag. If an ad is not marked as mobile preferred, it's considered an all device ad. So if you don't have any ads that are mobile preferred and their campaign is set to run on mobile devices and desktop devices, then your desktop ad is going to be used for all devices. If an ad group has at least mobile preferred ad and the campaign is set to desktops and mobile devices and the mobile ad should be used. So now if all the ads in an ad group are considered mobile preferred, so there's no all device ad, an unflagged ad, then the mobile device ads will be used on a desktop. Now please note it's a preference. So it's possible that a non-mobile ad can show on a mobile device or that your all device ad can show on a mobile device even if you have a mobile flight ad. This shouldn't happen often, but it's possible for it to occur. So if your campaign is set to be on both mobile devices and desktop devices, you really want at least one ad that's flagged and one ad that's not mobile flagged. Now to test that stand, you need at least four ads in an ad group when your campaigns are set to every device type. You want at least two mobile preferred ads and two non-mobile preferred ads. This'll let you test each device independently to see how your ads are doing by device. So with your mobile preferred ads, if you have a mobile website, you want to use the destination URLs for your mobile preferred ads to be your mobile site. For your non-mobile ads, you can use your destination URLs at will. And so by using the mobile preference flag correctly, you can make sure that when your campaign's in all devices that you're showing an ad that's more mobile in context and calls to action or an ad that's not for mobile devices with the proper context and calls to action for desktop-based devices.

1.17 A Place to Start

So a good starting place for writing ad copy may not be the best place when you're done, but a good place to start, especially when you're starting out not sure where the consumer is the buying cycle for all your words. You don't really know your best features and benefit yet, you just wanting a starting place. These are two templates, you can fill in your own variables. Captivating headline, feature benefit, display URL. Captivating headline, benefit called action, display URL. So you want to test some combinations to see which one works best for a company. Please remember, an ad group is a collection of keywords and ad copies. You can have multiple ads in the same ad group. Those ads will still only show for the same keywords in that ad group, but an ad group can contain multiples. And once you create a few ads, you start running some attributes. You start looking at the metrics, you need to test. The ads you first start with will rarely be in the best ads for keywords. Ad copy testing is an essential part of page search optimization. Ad copy writing uses the creative side of the brain, which is necessary for you to start creating ads. You're going to have to use the other side of your brain for awhile to crunch the numbers to determine which ad is really best for you. Only by testing will you really know who ads will perform in relation to your goals. So remember, there's no best ad. There's only a best ad as it relates to what you want your marketing to accomplish. So look at the search results for your keywords. There aren't ads that utilize your features, benefits and calls to action. Ads are the bridge between the search query and your website. It should compel someone to want to click on your ad to view your site. Ads set the expectation for what we have found after the click, so your ads need to accomplish a lot for your account to be effective. But only by testing, refining and repeating the testing process will you find the correct message to put in front of the correct consumer. To bring that searcher to the right page on your site, so you can convert them to new customers.

1.18 Ad Copy

So once you've created some ads, the next step is to determine where on your web site you're going to send the traffic to. Now one of the biggest mistakes new advertisers make is sending all the traffic to their home page. Rarely are home pages good places to send traffic. A home page is just an introduction to your brand, your site and its goals to segment users further into your site, where they can actually find their answers. So if someone searches for something that's more product category aligned, send them to a product page. Send them to a category page or even a search result. If someone searches for an actual product, your ad copy should reflect the product name, and the traffic should go to a product page. So, the furthest, most logical place in the buying cycle is where you want to send the traffic on your website. Now, e-commerce is an easy example because it's segmented into homepages, categories and products. The industry doesn't matter. Local businesses, lead generation sites, content based websites all should follow the same logic of what page on your website answers the question of why they did a search in the first place. So someone does a search like Chicago Accounting Services. In this case, the home page is not a bad place to send traffic. Because that's what they do. Chicago Accounting Service. However, if the user had searched for a service, such as medical or dental accounting services, the home page is not a great place. They have a page dedicated to that search query. So, always keep this in mind when you're writing ads. So, where are you going to send the traffic to, to make sure that you're connecting the user to the right place on your website. So always keep this in mind as you write ads. A keyword search is just a question. The ad company's goal is to say, hey, we can answer the question and service that bridge between keyword query and your website. Your website then causes the conversion to occur. So thinking about that destination page on your site is essential to making sure you have a nice chain between thought process, connecting ad copy, landing page to finish the conversion process and get a new customer.

1.19 Recap

So to recap, Ads are bridges between consumer thoughts and your site. An ad does not make a sale, all an ad does, is bring in qualified traffic to your site and help set the expectations for what someone's going to find on the landing page. Now the first thing you should be doing with ad copywriting is thinking about your USP, or unique selling proposition. If you don't know what's unique about your company, there's no way to explain this to a searcher. Next, you have features and benefits, features are just bullet point lists about a service or product. Benefits sell, benefits are what someone gets from buying the product or engaging the service. So there's different ways to use features and benefits based upon where the user is in the buying cycle. So think through your features and benefits based upon the intent of the search query. Then make sure you're sending traffic to the furthest, most logical page in the buying cycle, and then finally, always test ads. Don't just have one ad running, always be testing to see what ads can bring in more traffic and what ads can bring in more traffic at a better conversion rate or a lower cost per conversion. Ads are the only part of your account a searcher actually sees, a searcher will not know your keywords, they often don't know your website yet. The ad copy really is that bridge between they want the answer and you hold the answer. So make sure you're testing In those ads, is a well written ad and well tested set of ads can increase the effectiveness of your account significantly.

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