5 Ways to Keep Your Ad Copy Effective

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man working on ad copy on computer

Paid media has become a core marketing effort across industries. Put simply, digital ads are an essential piece of the puzzle as you look to build your marketing mix, increase brand awareness, drive web traffic, and maximize your revenue. 

The proof is in the pudding: social media and search engine ads consistently rank as the highest marketing channels by ROI, far ahead of traditional channels like print and radio. If you want to market your business, digital ads are the way to go.

Of course, that's easy to say without context. If you don't get the content just right, you can spend thousands of dollars without ever seeing a customer as a result. If you want to be successful, you need to have strong advertising copy.

There's just one tiny problem: what happens if you get writer's block? If you stare at that blank screen, and just don't know where to start or what might work?

You just have to know where to start. These 5 tips can help you keep your ad copy effective, and overcome that pesky thing called writer's block.

1. Think From Your Audience's Perspective

It's tempting to focus on your own company, product, and features. Unfortunately, that also tends to induce writer's block; you know your company well, but how do you express that to an audience that might have never heard about you?

Instead, turn it all around. Start considering your ideal buyer. Do you know what they like and don't like, what other content they might be reading, and what they might be looking for from you?

Put yourself in your audience's shoes. Then, try writing that ad copy again. You might have gained some new and valuable insight that you can now use for more effective ad copy.

2. Address Your Audience's Core Problems

Of course, simply considering the ad from your audience's perspective is not necessarily enough. Instead, it pays to dig deeper. Look to answer your prospective customers' immediate pain points, the problems they face that cause them to turn to your product in the first place.

That might require some research about what those pain points are to begin with. Surveys, focus groups, and even some informal conversations can help. You can gather clues from the types of comments you get on social media and in person events. Use those insights to focus your message.

Successful products, as a general rule, solve an audience problem. Your ads for that product or service need to accomplish the same thing. Try to write some copy that, in simple terms, explains how your product addresses a pain point. That might be all you need to get your audience's attention.

colleagues collaborating on ad copy project

3. Pull in the Emotional Appeal

The above approach is largely rational. But as most consumer marketers know, most of our decision-making is ultimately emotional. Even a significant purchase like a car or house ultimately comes down to the feeling we get when we walk through or test drive it. While high-end B2B buying decisions are more considered due to the multitude of influencers in the decision process, the people taking part in that decision can still be influenced by emotional factors.

You can leverage that insight for better ad copy. Make sure that the emotion you're looking to elicit matches your end goal and product; for example, you may not want to instill fear in customers when ultimately you want your customers to feel safe and trusted when contacting you. Instead, your could opt for using humor, aspiration, or nostalgia -- it tends to work wonders in short, pithy ads.

Emotions, of course, are highly subjective. Going over the top can be dangerous, so make sure you test the copy with a few other people. Those can be co-workers, family members, or loyal customers. That way, you can make sure that the emotions are hitting home before spending money on the ad or causing an unanticipated reaction.

4. Start With Your Headline

"On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar."  - David Ogilvy


David Ogilvy, one of the godfathers of advertising, wasn't wrong. And yet, too often, that's the last part we tackle just to make the ad complete. Is it a wonder that writer's block tends to set in when the headline is an afterthought?

That doesn't have to be the case. When you write a new ad, try to start with the headline. Come up with something short, directly addressing pain points and maybe even inserting some emotions. Once you get the headline just right, the rest of the ad will flow naturally to build to its logical conclusion.

5. Get Some Inspiration

Don't just rely on yourself to get the perfect ad copy. Instead, when you don't know where to go next, look for some inspiration from other sources. Those sources can range widely:

  • Social media pages and websites of direct competitors in your industry.
  • Some of the world's leading and most renowned brands, from Nike to Apple.
  • Your personal social media pages and Google searches.
  • Direct interactions and conversations with your customers.

None of these are an invitation to just copy the message. That doesn't help anyone involved, especially if customers happen to come across both your and your competitor's ads. The inspiration is just that -- use it to gain insight on what seems to work in terms of length, tone, message, and emotion.

You'd be surprised just how far that inspiration can take you. At the very least, it gives you a time out from staring at that blank screen and out into the world of marketing. By the time you come back, the words might just be flowing from your keyboard.

Working With a Digital Marketing Partner to Beat Writer's Block

Of course, you don't have to be on your own in this fight. When worst comes to worst, and the words just keep getting stuck, it makes sense to engage a marketing partner with expertise in the area you're looking for.

For example, check out our approach to search engine marketing. It relies on a structured process that begins with keyword research and ends with an ad that attracts, convinces, and converts audiences. As with any ad, of course, it only works with the right copy. Let's work together to put all the components in place to help your business grow!


Nicole Spewak

Nicole Spewak

Nicole is Content Director at Beacon Digital Marketing, where she leads a team of writers, editors, and strategists in creating effective content strategies backed up by compelling content that gets results. She specializes in creating content for the fintech, cybersecurity, and risk and compliance industries.