Secrets of Writing Effective Ad Copy

Effective advertising copy is all about selling. Whether you are selling a service, a product, a vacation destination or a home it’s about spreading the word and generating action. It might be that it’s not money that you want from your copy, it’s that you want to build your email marketing contact list. Once you know how to write effective ad copy, it’s something that can help you become a better writer all around as you learn how to eliminate extra words and use the tone that delights your readers.

Attract, delight and satisfy

Sitting down to write effective ad copy can be one of the toughest assignments that a copywriter can be given. In just a few seconds, you’ve got to the task of grabbing the attention of the reader away from all the other ads that he gets bombarded with. You then have to deliver your marketing message within a few words and stimulate the reader to take the action that you recommend. Throughout you’ve got to delight the reader and satisfy their need to know.

Your goal is to convince the reader to take action. Know that there isn’t any perfect formula that will get them to do what you want them to – but once you know the fundamental basics then you’ve got every chance of achieving your goal. In this article we explore these fundamentals and how to apply them for success.

Define your goal

Before you get started, you need to be fully clear on what it is that you want the reader to do. What are you trying to achieve? Get clear so that you can build the steps to take you there.

Identify your audience and let them know that you can help

Don’t attempt to sell to anybody and everybody – your ad needs to be written so that it will appeal to your target market. Before you start writing, find out all that you can about the people who buy what you have for sale.

You need to know the answers to these questions:

  • What do they want?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What do they need to do to solve their problem?


Find out why your existing customers are buying your offer and what they are using it to solve. The more you know about the issue that they are solving with your offering, the better. You can use this to communicate and prove that you know what they need and you can help them.

Headlines and subheadings

This is what is going to encourage your reader to invest time in reading what you’ve got to say – so choose wisely. Only by attracting enough attention will you convince them to read further. Your most important words should appear in the headline.

The best headlines get straight to the point, but another style that can attract attention is the confusion style. For example a question such as:

“Isn’t This What You’ve Been Looking For?” can encourage a reader to go further into the copy to find out what it is that they may have been looking for.

Be specific and make it easy

The more specific you are the better. We’ve all read copy that goes on for a few pages without giving any real clues as to what exactly is on offer. If you cannot communicate clearly what you’ve got to offer within the first couple of paragraphs, then it won’t resonate with readers. They will get bored and leave.

You’ve got to make it easy for them to buy from you. If you know they will have some objections to what you are telling them, then answer them up front. Give them stats and facts that will prove that what you are saying is correct.

Educate and add numbers

Educate your reader quickly on why they should be buying your offering. What will it do for them? Gone are the days of the hard sell, selling these days is about providing solutions and educating.

People love seeing figures in copy. Researchers have found that press releases with numbers in the headlines get more views than those that don’t.

Write to them and for them

If your ad is going online, then write it for online readers. They scan rather than read every word, so help them out by adding subheadings, bullet points and ideally use black text on a white background. Paragraphs should be between 40 and 60 words.

When it comes to language, to write effective ad copy you need to use the same words that your readers use. Write in a style that they are familiar with in the way that they speak. If you write too formal, it could well bore them and you’ll lose them. Your readers also don’t want to learn new jargon in order to buy your product.

Keep your copy engaging and casual. Unless you are selling a highly technical product your copy should be written in the same way that you would communicate with a friend. Write in the present and stay upbeat and positive.

Imagine that you are speaking one on one with your reader.

Use ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ as much as you can. They don’t want to know about you so keep the ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘we’ words to a minimum. They want to know what you can do for them and what is in it for them.

Use the premier marketing words to get straight to the point

Words such as ‘protect’, ‘money’, ‘save $120’, ‘immediate benefit’ all sell well. They may sound like clichés to you, but they all promise a tangible benefit. This is very attractive to the reader as they can imagine a clear benefit and image of what your offer will do for them.

Use emotion

People like to think that they buy on logic, but it’s emotions that rule the world – yes, even the business world. Use them to your benefit by tying your product to the emotions of the reader. Remember that you’ll get the best response from being respectful and personable.

Add credibility

Don’t promise things that you are not able to realistically deliver. Your reader will see through it and it will do nothing but put them off. Communicate exactly what results your reader can expect from using the product or service. You should also add testimonials if there is space.

Highlight the benefits

Sit down and brainstorm the benefits of using your product or service. List the features for your readers and spell out what those features will deliver when it comes to benefits.

Add a strong call to action

Start with subjects and verbs. For example:

“See plans and pricing”

Verbs are very powerful and gain the best responses from readers.

Add a sense of urgency

Getting your readers to act immediately is essential for them to act at all. Once they go off and start doing something else, you will lose them. If you can add a deadline to your offer then do.

Test using Twitter

Twitter is the ideal place to test response to your headlines. The limit of sticking to just 140 characters makes it essential that all communication has to be short and to the point.

Use adverbs sparingly such as ‘with ease’ as they have been found to be the least popular in tests on Twitter.

You should find these steps provide some guidance as you sit down to write effective ad copy.

Action Steps to Take to Write Effective Ad Copy

  1. Be clear about your objective. Before you start writing, prepare by knowing who your target market is and what the goal is that you want to achieve.
  2. Get clear on your conclusion. This will enable you to create a well-structured ad that has a destination and gets there.
  3. Use simple words that communicate to your reader. Stay away from jargon and words that your readers will have to look up to understand.
  4. Put all focus on your reader. ‘You’, ‘Your’ and ‘Your’e’ – tell them what’s in it for them.
  5. Answer their need to know.
  6. Back up your content with facts and stats – it will build credibility of your offer and of the business.
  7. Add a strong call to action using verbs.
  8. Draft several ads – test them and then scale up their use depending on results.
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