Sometimes, writing ads for Google Adwords sucks. We all hate it.
It feels nearly impossible to fit a compelling offer into a 30-character headline or 80-character description.
To make matters worse, your entire campaign’s potential success rides on those few characters. It’s literally all you’ve got on Search Ads.
So writing a short, snappy copy is critical for success.
If you can’t get users to click, you won’t get them to convert. Paying for the first position won’t matter if you can’t turn attention into conversions.
Here are six AdWords copywriting tips that will grab attention, increase your CTR, and compel people to take action.
1. Match user intent
AdWords is the go-to advertising platform for many companies and marketers alike because of user intent. It’s literally the only place like it.
Users on Facebook or Twitter aren’t there to view ads or look for products. They’re there to interact with friends, family, and waste an hour watching pug videos (guilty).
But when it comes to AdWords, users are explicitly searching for something specific. Long story short: they want to see your ads, and more importantly, they want a solution that your ad can deliver.
You can assess intent by looking at a single keyword, for instance. Just take a look at the top four ad positions for the “Best CRM” search query:
All of the top-ranking results are individual CRM software companies peddling their own version as “the best” or “World’s Most Popular.”
But take a second to break down that keyword, “best CRM.”
The specific use of the word “best” signifies that someone is likely looking for a comparison. They want to see how multiple different vendors stack up against each other.
For example, you’d search for “best HDTV” if you were looking for reviews listing the top ones to buy this year.
Looking at the organic search results for CRM-based searches also helps clue you into what users are looking for:
Hint hint: It ain’t your CRM software claiming to be #1.
When writing AdWords ads, it’s more important than ever to match user intent. To put yourself in the customer’s shoes and give them what you’d want out of the search.
What are they looking for? What indicators can you tell by keyword searches?
Recently, I was looking to sell my old phone. I had one simple goal: make money. Fast.
Now, look at the search results from my query:
All of the ads mirror user intent by tapping into words like “used” and “payout.”
Finally, take a look at this single ad at the bottom of the first page results for “best CRM:”
I can bet you that any clicks that do go to an ad-based result on this query are likely going to this software review website, rather than any individual CRM — despite its lower position.
Why? They were the only ones to properly match user intent.
2. Use direct numbers and discounts in your headline
Headlines with numbers are the single most effective headline type according to a study done by Conductor.
Numbers are popular in headlines because they often signify a sense of predictability in a world that is uncertain.
Recent data on a study of 3.3 million headlines proves this. Headlines that clarified using [podcast] or [infographic] got 38% better performance results.
Clarification is critical to driving clicks.
Users can tell from headlines with numbers the time and potential cost commitment from reading it.
A study on the Psychology of Waiting Lines backs this data up, showing that unexplained wait times of the same length feel longer than explained wait times.
For example, if a listicle was titled, “101 tips for SEO,” you can rightfully expect a substantial time commitment to read through it.
That’s 101 tips for crying out loud. It’s going to take time. But users are willing to read through it because they now have an idea of the time it will take.
The same logic applies to pricing, especially in ads, where most consumers block them out of distrust.
Numbers can work to combat that uncertainty with specifics. It helps to give users answers fast, allowing them to decide without clicking on tons of ads for an hour.
But sometimes it doesn’t make sense to use a listicle headline on AdWords. No point in promoting content when the cost per click and acquisition would be too high. Instead, you’re likely selling a product, service, or consultation.
The trick is to use numbers to communicate value. Rental cars, for example, compete primarily on price. They’re in a commoditized market. So guess which numbers they emphasize in ads?
The shock factor alone is likely to generate clicks. Rental cars as low as $9.47 per day? That’s nearly unheard of. I honestly clicked it just to confirm.
But those aren’t the only reasons that users tend to interact with number-based headlines.
Humans love numbers. We love to analyze, compartmentalize and structure everything in our lives.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, humans are more likely to trust odd numbers too. In fact, they can increase your CTR on ads by 20% when compared to an even number.
Guardian research shows that the number “7” is the most popular, favorite number across the globe.
Notice that Expedia ad again? 9.47.
Moral of the story: Use numbers in your headline to tap into behavioral psychology and drive more clicks on your ads.
3. Go back to the basics
Take Dwight’s advice. Every time. Without question.
Sometimes, basic headlines with keywords and benefits perform the best.
In today’s world, shock and awe are used almost daily in the news. Every day we hear about a new disaster, catastrophe, or something that is simply blown out of proportion.
This opens the door for simple, classic headlines to make a resurgence.
Don’t believe me? A study from Marketing Experiments found that using a simple headline containing your keyword in the ad and landing page produced 2.5x more leads:
The simple use of keywords in your headline can improve results.
Why? Users are looking for information fast. They skim. Meaning they might not read your entire ad. They might just look for the keywords to make sure it lines up with their intent (see #1 above).
It’s why almost every post you read contains H2 headers. People are skimming and looking for specific words, headlines, and phrases that can tell them the information without reading the entire section.
For example, when you look at a given Google search, keywords get highlighted in the meta description:
They allow you to focus on the exact words that you just typed into Google. The ones that your brain is already processing. And they are some of the most simple, yet neglected headlines around.
But sometimes, it’s exactly what you need to capture attention. Try going back to basics with this formula:
Be sure to place the keyword you are bidding on in your headline and URL, with clear benefits, and a concise call to action to get people to do exactly what you want them to do.
4. Ask the user a question
Speaking directly to the customer is a simplistic form of personalization.
For example, in an email, you’d ask the potential lead a direct question about how to solve their pain points. You’re using a simple trick to increase relevance and thus, elicit a response.
So why not do the same with AdWords? Some of the best ads use questions:
According to Conductor, addressing the reader and asking a question are two of the top five headline methods to use.
Headline questions obviously meet one of the top five marks, but they also address the reader like most headlines can’t.
Plus, they open the door for even further addressing of the user in your description.
Take a look at the first ad highlighted above. It asks an important question to users conducting this search.
While it may seem painfully obvious that someone searching for ways to get rid of acne is likely dealing with it, it allows the advertiser to personally address the user in the description:
Learn if…..Can Help You.
It becomes a personal, one-on-one conversation with the searcher.
Don’t just ask a question in your headline, but be sure to continue the personal conversation within the description section of your ad as well.
5. Steal the #1 organic listings headline
Sometimes, you hit a creative wall. Nothing is coming to fruition. You just can’t come up with multiple ads on the same topic.
We’ve all been there. Writer’s block is a real issue that can put a huge dark cloud over your campaigns.
Especially when you’re trying to squeeze amazing CTAs and compelling copy in such a small character limit.
When in doubt, piggyback or steal from the top-ranking organic post. You know this post is likely generating the highest CTR.
So simply examine the organic listings for great headlines. For example, check out this MailChimp headline in the organic listing for an email-based query:
It’s dead simple, but it works. It provides the end user benefit directly in the headline:
Sell More Stuff.
The description is also amazing, telling users before they click who the product is great for:
E-commerce businesses. This means they are actually weeding out potential clicks from people who their product isn’t right for.
And that means less money spent on clicks and acquisition.
If all else fails you, examine the top-ranking organic content for your keywords. See if any compelling headlines stand out and adapt them for your own AdWords ad strategy.
6. Create urgency with power words
Power words grab attention fast. Words like You or NOW or FAST or BEST. These words tap into deep-rooted emotional fears or aspirations. They trigger a psychological reaction from readers.
According to OptinMonster, you can increase conversions by 12.7% by using power words.
They can be applied to nearly any subject, business or desire, tapping into greed, lust, curiosity, vanity, trust and more.
For example, check out these ads for flights:
Each takes advantage of various power words from “Now!” to “Lock in” and “Best Deals!”
Another search for building an online store returns great examples of simple power words to drive action:
Both BigCommerce and Shopify excel at using power words to drive results. BigCommerce highlights the user’s business and the power word of “your,” promising a user faster results.
Shopify states, “Everything You Need To Start Selling Online Today.”
Both focus on the end user and giving them the most benefit possible. Each one taps into the desires of a searcher using this query.
People searching to create an online store want a few specific things:
- To get started faster
- To make money!
Tapping into that desire with power words can increase the motivation of users searching and clicking on your Google ads.
When using power words, first analyze the psychology behind each search. This includes motivation, what the user is looking for, and how you can communicate those benefits.
Writing AdWords ads can often feel like a form of military torture.
Fitting all you need to say in 30 to 80 characters is like running your nails down a fresh chalkboard.
Not only is it a painful process, but your entire campaign rides on it. Crafting compelling AdWords ads can be the difference maker in getting clicks vs. getting conversions.
Try implementing these six AdWords copywriting tips to give your results a jumpstart in about half the time it normally takes you to slave over a cringe-worthy copy.