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Ecommerce | Marketing

Copy Tips for Better AdWords Results—and Better Marketing Overall

image: Google Adwords logo
Top-performing ads had several traits in common. How does your copy rate?

Roughly 1.2 million companies advertise via Google AdWords. You may be one of those advertisers. Even if you're not, though, you've no doubt seen the pay-per-click ads on the online behemoth: text ads that appear above search results, display ads that include images or rich media and appear in apps and Gmail as well as online, video ads on YouTube. Copy is tight on these ads. For a text ad, you're allotted two headlines, each with a maximum of 30 characters, that are separated by a dash; these are followed by your URL and a description that is limited to 80 characters.


Clearly you need to make quite a precise, concise statement within that narrow character range. To that end, online marketing company WordStream analysed more than 600 top-performing English-language ads to produce its guide "9 Data-Backed Hacks for Crazy-High CTRs." The beauty is that many of these tips can help you when creating other sales or marketing copy in addition to Google ads. To wit:



Make it all about "you."

WordStream created a list, excluding articles and conjunctions, of the 10 most common words appearing in the most effective ads. Number one was your; number 10 was you. In between were free, now, get, online, our, save, best, and shipping. So yes, customers jump at the promise of savings, and immediacy is important, but above all, you need to make it all about them, in part by addressing them in the second person. "Your source for unicorn food" will probably be more effective than "We sell unicorn food."



Avoid "click" as a CTA.

Get was by far the most common call to action among the top-performing ads. For ads selling products rather than offering something gratis, buy and shop were most popular. Not a single of the most effective ads used click as a CTA.



Feel free to avoid including numbers in your copy.

Fewer than 40% of the top-performing ads included prices, percentage-off figures, and other numbers. Which is not to say that if you're running a blowout sale with huge markdowns, you should not include "75% off" in your copy. Rather, in this era of listicles and comparison shopping, "it's a solid reminder that your prospects care about more than the price of your goods or services," according to WordStream. "The way in which you frame (and phrase) your offer matters as much as the offer itself. It's completely possible to convey value in a text ad without numbers."



Avoid repetition.

WordStream calls it "lexical diversity." Basically it means try not use the same word (not counting articles and the like, of course) repeatedly in your copy. Given how few characters AdWords allows you, you might think doing so is a no-brainer. But perhaps you intentionally repeat key words in hopes of demonstrating relevance to improve your Google Quality Score. After all, high scores can lead to lower costs and better ad positions. But paradoxically, having the same keyword make up a significant percentage of your ad's overall vocabulary could lead Google to suspect keyword stuffing, which in turn would result in a lower Quality Score. Besides, "even if stuffing your text ads with the keywords you're bidding on might please an algorithm (for now), it's wholly unappealing to human eyes," WordStream notes. "This is a problem you should try like the dickens to avoid since, you know, humans are the ones who will click your ads and purchase your wares."



Write for a 14-year-old's reading level.

That's a score of 60-70 on the Flesch Reading Ease test and around a ninth-grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test. These tests use sentence length and word length to gauge how difficult copy is to comprehend. You might be thinking, "But my target market is better educated and more intelligent than that." But whether your audience consists of linguistics professors and neurosurgeons or, well, 14-year-olds, everyone wants to get the gist of an ad at a glance. Not sure how to gauge your copy's readability? Microsoft Word includes Flesch and Flesch-Kincaid calculators built right in (as part of Spelling and Grammar under Tools), and there are free calculators online as well. (For the record, this paragraph scored a 70.4 on the Flesch scale and an eight-grade reading level on Flesch-Kincaid.) To make your copy more readable, opt for shorter, simple (as opposed to compound or complex) sentences and words with fewer syllables.



author: Zilan Yuan

Zilan Yuan

Zilan Yuan is a freelance writer specializing in marketing and design and editorial assistant of Your Commerce.


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