A ROBUST GUIDE ON PPC AD COPY WITH 17 TACTICAL TIPS

If you’re running paid search, you know you have to write good ad copy to get people to click on your ads. After all, you only have a few seconds to convince someone to leave the SERP and click through to your website.

And I believe you’re already writing good, even great advertising copy. But, we can always learn something new and be EVEN better. 

So here’s a PPC ad copy guide with information on formats, competition, traffic, and a list of 17 practical and tactical tips for writing, plus a lot more pro tips.

What Is an Ad Copy?

Ad copy is a written sales pitch, and it is often short and punchy, designed to catch the reader’s attention and create a desire for your product. 

In the PPC world, effective ad copy must have keywords, product benefits, and a strategic placement – so it can be seen by many people.

In this guide, we mainly focus on the most popular paid search ad channels like Google, Bing & Facebook, but most tricks can also apply to others.

What Is an Ad Copy Example?

When you type any keyword in Google search, any result that pops with the bold Ad text is an ad. A maximum of eight paid results appear on Google, four on the top and four on the bottom of the page.

Ad copy examples

A banner ad on websites, videos on YouTube, and other platforms can also have ad copy:  

Banner ad copy for a sneaker company

PPC Ad Format

A key aspect of writing PPC ads is knowing the format. Since June of 2022, we can no longer create or edit expanded text ads (ETAs), so RSA have taken the primate for Google search results.

Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) are the main search campaign type we can create in Google Adwords today. Its structure is up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions that Google’s AI will mix and match into the best possible fit for the highest conversion rate.

If you haven’t made the switch from ETA to RSA, your ETAs are unavailable for advertising now. I highly recommend transforming those short text ads into automatically tested combinations, and they learn on their own to pick and choose the best performing combo.

RSAs save a lot of time, reach more potential customers and increase ad group performance by attracting more clicks and conversions than ETAs could.

We have a whole page dedicated to ad templates, so here’s a shortcut to Google Ads Ad copy templates that you can download for free and use to prepare your RSAs and upload structure. This way you’ll create copy more easily.

RSA Ad Copy Structure

RSA have the structure of 15 headlines, 4 descriptions, a final URL, and two ad paths. You can include a lot of information in your ad copy and hope for the best that Google AI makes great matches of your copy and crafts the ad in the best way possible.

There are also other ways of handling RSAs: imitating the late ETAs. 

  • Headlines 1-5: Keyword-filled copy locked on position 1
  • Headlines 6-10: Benefit-oriented copy locked on position 2
  • Headlines 11-15: Strong CTAs locked on position 3

Here’s an example. I scribbled these 15 headlines out of my head in under two minutes to show you how this logic of splitting headlines into three different messaging types:

RSA Ad format imitating the late ETA

As you can see – I used keywords like the brand, model, product, and year in headline 1 to keep the Quality Score high. 

The second headline is the benefits (or buying it from this seller and ad on the spot). These could be much more convincing. Let yourself be creative and use the characters in the best way possible in the second third.

Last, there should be CTAs – these should provide the convincing punch for the first two headlines.

And for the description in RSA, write one that you can pin to position 1 or 2 – including the keyword and helpful information. This way, we mimic how ETAs used to work, ensuring a higher Quality Score than just letting 15 headlines and 4 descriptions completely randomize. 

Keep in mind: A user only glances over the ad (especially on Google), so creating copy interesting enough for them to click is a skill that develops over time. 

Performance Max Ad Structure

Performance Max is the newest campaign type in Google Ads, created with the idea to optimize performance & allocate budgets dynamically, including all Google channels (YouTube, Display, Search, Discovery, Gmail, Google Maps…) 

The ad copy structure for Pmax is similar to RSA – 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, but it has more mandatory assets like images in multiple sizes, video, CTA, and media bundle. 

Our Ad Copy template also has a Pmax structure, so please feel free to download and use it!

Before Writing Your PPC Ad Copy

Writing mad good copy that converts is a powerful feeling. But to do so, heavy prep is essential. Before writing comes the research. And research sparks the creative flame of any great copy or content writer. 

If there is anything that differentiates copywriting from novel writing and poetry, it’s subjectivity, and it should be left at the door. Copywriting should be creative but always based on data and facts. 

You’re selling products and services, so making things up or doing them ‘how you think will work is not going to cut it. 

The first step is to research your competitors.

Why Should You Do Competitor PPC Research?

Checking your competitor’s presence in paid search is one of the first things on the agenda. Because…

  1. Without knowing what your competitors are doing, you won’t know how to differentiate from them.
  2. You can find out what ad copy and creative strategies are working for your competitors and borrow from them.
  3. You can learn what keywords your competitors are targeting and use them as your words.
  4. You can see what offers and deals your competitors promote and try to beat them with better offers.
  5. By understanding your competition, you can make more informed decisions about where to allocate your advertising budget – and ultimately, see better results from your campaigns.

And there are ways to do that research.

Keyword Search on Google

The first would be to search keywords on Google. If you’re new to the copywriting game and just starting with how to write a killed ad, start simple.

If you don’t have a keyword structure, I suggest starting with scraping content from your or your client’s website. The main products and offers are your main keywords. You can slowly start to widen the terms you are searching for as you go deeper and more specific into the service or products.

How to Find Inspiring Competitors on Google?

Let’s put it like this:

  1. If you’re working for a bookseller in a local town, search for paid results on Google in that town.
  2. Find the bookstores and sellers that advertise.
  3. Find inspirational words, and how they craft the message from their ad and site.
  4. Know why you’re selling a more specific product

But how about some other towns in that area? Try to search for those as well because the book-selling business is likely similar in a nearby town or area. So instead of, let’s say, Berlin, you’ll search for other towns and cities like booksellers in Potsdam, Hamburg, Munich, and so on. 

You can try googling similar keywords like ‘comic-book store’, ‘booker’, or even ‘magazine shop’ to draw inspiration.

Apply this example to any niche in the future and see that it works. I’ve successfully done this a bunch of times while writing ad copy (especially for eCommerce).

How to Find Inspiration for Facebook PPC Ads?

There is also a way to search for your competitors on Facebook, which may be less popular than the Google competitor search. 

The way you do this is through Facebook Ad Library. That is a library full of ads currently running on Meta.

This was new to me when I started doing serious copywriting, which blew my mind. 

Here’s how it works.

  1. Go to Facebook Ad Library (you have to be logged in to use it)
  2. Select the country you want to examine (you can put All countries, too)
  3. Select the ad category you want
  4. Search by keyword or advertiser
  5. Browse through ad examples
  6. Transparently see everything you need for writing copy.

Here are ad copy examples for All countries, All Ads for the keyword ‘medical school’:

Library of creatives on Facebook

It’s easily visible – you can see the copy, key words, visuals, CTA, and the date ad started running.

Seeing your competitors like this gives you a clearer picture of who is in the market share. The tool helps tremendously, especially for advertisers running an ad campaign for the first time. These examples show that ad copy works, why wouldn’t yours?

Meta has a lot of ad policies and regulations and isn’t afraid of shutting down accounts when there’s a violation. Avoid getting your account suspended by checking out what your competitors are doing, and follow them responsibly. 

Let PPC Ads Stalk You for a While

This is also part of the research, believe it or not. 

After you search on Google, retargeting occurs. If not on your laptop, ads will retarget you on your phone, and there’s no more denying it. Or avoiding it, I’m afraid.

But I say embrace it, especially if you don’t have a tight deadline. Why?

Letting the content marinate in your brain for a few days may spark the imagination you need for exceptional copy. Maybe you see a great ad format on Meta, a juicy copy punchline, or simply a visual you didn’t know you could use because of ad policies.

Let the branded content roll. 

Please remember: However much technical, writing is a creative process, and enough time must be left for the process to develop. It’s completely okay to let the research simmer for a few days and return to it later with sleeves up your elbows. Unless you’re on a tight schedule or even tighter budget, start ASAP. 

Use a VPN For Advertising Copy by Spying on Competitors

If you work in digital marketing and copywriting is your job, chances are your clients or competitors are from around the globe. That is why you can use VPN search for your copywriting process – see paid search ads examples that could be inspiring. 

VPN stands for Virtual private network, and its purpose is to encrypt your internet traffic and disguise your online identity. You can change your location virtually and see content advertised worldwide.

Why do I Need a VPN for Copy that Converts?

You can use VPN to scan the ad from a different country. See the headlines, descriptions, and URL paths and do this for broad and long tail keywords. Feel free to use expressions similar to your competitor’s ad! Because if their ad appears for a broad keyword – they’re most likely doing it right.

VPN Recommendations – Windscribe

When I write for our international clients, I always use Windscribe, one of the best apps with the highest free bandwidth I’ve personally come across. 

Windscribe VPN app I recommend

This tool is easy to use. It stays bug-free and throws you (almost) anywhere on the map for free. One thing, though, it limits US regions quite a lot, but Europe and the rest of the world are available. 

One more disclaimer: when using a VPN to search, Google blocks you from clicking on them to protect the advertisers. The same happens with your ad campaign.

Ad Assets ( Ad Extensions )

Ad assets/extensions are an essential part of copywriting practices. First, they benefit your business or client by offering more space for information (text, images, phone numbers).

They help target specific demographics and locations and are pretty easy to set up. 

Having assets added to your marketing campaign significantly increases your chances of improving your click-through rate (CTR). Your ad takes up more space on Google. More clickable things and more information = more trust to the user, thus bringing in more engagement and qualified leads.

There are various types available, and we created a template for ad assets, as well – to make the process of writing them well-ordered and stress-free. Download the template for free.

NOTE: Boost your ad’s performance by testing different ad asset types to see which works best for your business. The most popular assets include sitelinks, callouts, and location information.

When using ad assets, be sure to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Make sure your extensions are relevant and valuable to users.
  • Make sure your extensions are properly formatted and displayed correctly.
  • Test to see which generates the best results for your business. (free trials, social proof, cost savings, sale ends, etc)

CTAs for Right Traffic Temperature

You should always write engaging ad copy with the end user in mind. Your CTA must be aligned with the traffic temperature of your audience to make those conversion rain.

Target audience temperature

Traffic temperature is a pretty self-explanatory principle. There are COLD, WARM, and HOT audiences.

Cold Traffic 

Your call to action should be gentle and inviting if you’re targeting a cold audience. 

Your ad copy, CTA, and landing page content must explain your product or service and how it can benefit the customer.

To communicate with this audience successfully, try phrases such as ‘meet X brand’ or ‘find out how.’ This will help to soften the sales pitch and make it more appealing to potential buyers.

Warm Traffic

Warm audiences are already aware of your product or service but may not be ready to buy yet. Therefore, you nurture them with ad copy and landing page content by focusing on getting them interested in learning more about your product or service and how it can benefit them. Try including ‘how to X’ in your CTA for warm traffic.

Hot Traffic

These folks are interested in buying. Therefore, your ad copy, CTA, and landing page content should focus on getting customers to buy your product or service as quickly as possible.

To write copy that converts this audience, try phrases such as ‘buy now, ‘save today,’ or anything that sparks urgency. This will help motivate them to take immediate action.

17 Ways to Spice Up PPC Ad Copy

Here are 17 tested and proven ways to zest your bland PPC ad copy recipe. Nobody likes just unseasoned boiled potatoes, am I right?

Adding spice, olive oil, herbs, and juices totally transforms the taste your ad leaves the user with.

Over time, I’ve learned many of these tips from colleagues, blogs, and conferences and incorporated them into my workflow:

  • Strong Foundation
  • Sharp Word Play
  • Psychology
  • Good-natured Approach

Strong Foundation

PPC Ad Copy Tip #1: Know your Visitor’s Doubts

When talking about your product, you must know your the objections of your potential customer. This way, you can cater your copy to their needs and convince them to trust you. 

Knowing what they doubt, you can focus on the benefits you offer & show how you can solve their problem.

Here’s an ad from Zip Moving & Storage that addresses the amount of involvement during moving. Through the form of a question, the company dismantles any disbelief and affirms – full service means full moving service. Nothing less.

Full service disclaimer to dismantle potential customers' doubts

The customer can sit back and relax without lifting a finger (contrary to their earlier worry).

Pro tip: Ask questions in ad copy to highlight your benefits and preempt their suspicion.

PPC Ad Copy Tip #2: Prequalify Clicks

Another way to bring in quality traffic and have a high conversion rate is to prequalify ad clicks by including the price of your product/service in your ad copy. Here is an example:

Including price information helps set expectations for the customer and avoid surprises after they click. It helps bring in high-quality traffic and avoid spending unnecessary budget.

Example of including price in Google assets

Pro tip: When including price in ad copy, remember you’re doing it because of the pain of paying – the more a purchase hurts, the fewer people are willing to make this purchase. Better to let them know right away!

Price asset (extension) example

PPC Ad Copy Tip #3: Understand the Decision-Making Process

The buyer’s cycle or the decision-making process maps out your potential buyer in a funnel or cycle. It goes from the awareness phase through consideration, decision, and purchase (final action = conversion). We also include the advocate part in our Buyer’s Cycle Content Strategy infographic because happy customers respond very well to certain content pieces. 

Depending on the cycle/funnel phase, a visitor needs different information and treatment. It’s crucial to have this in mind, and it’s the story of traffic temperature one more time. Align your message with the phase of the cycle they are in and see how they respond.

Pro tip: Always ask yourself: Do you know where your website visitors are?

PPC Ad Copy Tip #4: Use Personalization

Most people are more likely to respond to personal messages than to generic ones. This rule doesn’t come only from Pay-per-Click advertising, but it’s a general communication rule. Your crowd wants to feel special on an unconscious level. And for them to feel appreciated, how we communicate in ad copy (and on landing pages) is critical.

When someone feels like they’re just one of a faceless crowd, they’re less likely to be interested in what you have to say. And less likely to buy.

Pro tip: Try using Dynamic Keyword Insertion and let Google change ad content dynamically to match a search query. It updates your ads with the keywords in your ad group that caused them to show. 

Read more about keyword insertion.

PPC Ad Copy Tip #5: Be Familiar with Devices You’re Targeting

This tip may be too obvious, but you should typically have the devices in mind for all content creation. Mobile behavior is more fluid, with more scrolling and swiping, while the desktop is more static, and more often home-based than mobile. All these things determine how potential customers perceive information and interact with the business.

Great ad copy starts with knowing your territory, platform, and environment.

So, don’t forget device-based ads. Mobile and desktop call to action may differ, as well as word length, ad banner copy, and ad assets.

Pro tip: As of August 2022, mobile exceeded desktop use in the US (Oberlo). The most of your targeted audience is on the phone.

Sharp Word Play

PPC Ad Copy Tip #6: Use Real Numbers & Data

When you write ad copy, you must be specific about your product or service. This is especially true when it comes to numbers. If you say your product is “cheap,” people will naturally wonder how cheap. But if you say it’s “$9.99,” they know exactly how much they’re saving. 

Including specific numbers in your ad copy can help boost your CTR, making it easier for potential customers to understand what you’re selling and trust more to make a conversion.

Pro tip: If you’re advertising an online service, include how much the process lasts online in your ad copy. For example, how many minutes it takes you to fill out a form. Ad copy examples:

PPC Ad Copy Tip #7: Invest Time in Your Headlines

Dedicating the most time of your copywriting process to headlines pays off. Eye-tracking software has repeatedly proven that the headline is the most visible part of the ad. If you’re unsure what that means, look at the visual of how this software captured and mapped out the visibility. Is it just me, or does this heat map resemble an alien? 👽

Heat map of Google paid and organic results

Source: Usability.de

Anyway, this map is a sign that headlines are what catch the customer’s attention. The red is the most seen part of the ad. If and only if your headlines pass the ‘user-test’, they will maybe read the descriptions and click on the ad. 

It’s a similar situation with words on the banner ad on websites. Along with the faces, the headlines are what catch the eye of the customer.

Faces and words are most seen on banner ad.

PPC Ad Copy Tip #8: Include Search Terms in Ad Copy

Search term words (especially in your headline) increase your chances of reaching a wider audience. You should check your converting search terms a few times a week, add them as keywords and change your headlines and descriptions to fit the search terms.

Here’s an example of a search term ‘moving to Los Angeles’ that turned into a headline that will make me want to click if I’m planning to relocate.  

Word play with search terms that converted

This way, the user is much more likely to click through the ad and visit your landing page, which matches their query. 

PPC Ad Copy Tip #9: Use The Keyword in Ad Display Path

The display path is often overlooked, but it can boost your ads’ performance by the dozen. So using the keyword in your ad display path helps target your potential customers better, leading to more conversions and sales.

Ad Path is the text that comes after the URL and slash ( / ). Here’s an example I found on WordStream:

Examples of ad paths in Google paid results

This text demystifies the destination for the user because it matches their intent. This way, your ad is more relevant to the viewers and Google.Pro tip: Keep it short. The space you have for Ad Path is 15 characters.

Psychology

PPC Ad Copy Tip #10: Use FOMO

The fear of missing out is a powerful emotion that copywriters use to motivate people to take action. It can create a sense of urgency and encourage people to buy now rather than later. This psychological principle taps into people’s competitive nature, encouraging them to buy so they don’t miss out on what others are buying. 

It can be very effective when used correctly. For example, common FOMO can go like this: 

  • Hurry before the offer ends
  • Act now before time runs out
  • Save your spot
  • Last chance to X
  • Join X other customers
  • Limited time offer

Pro tip: Analyze your buyer’s cycle in Google Analytics and other data sources to find the pain points of your target audience.

PPC Ad Copy Tip #11: Make Them Feel Good

How do you distinguish  a great from a bad ad? Great copywriters know that tapping into the visitor’s feeling of power and authority makes the $$$ Ka-ching sound effect! It’s because people want to feel good about themselves & believe they are making the right decision by buying. 

If you haven’t written ad copy examples like this, just focus the message on the readers. Make sure to focus on the benefits and show how your offering will improve their lives. Ad copy examples like here in this ad:

Example of 'make feel good' ad copy

The same products or services could have completely different impressions from potential customers – make sure you stick out by making the reader feel good.

PPC Ad Copy Tip #12: Show Your Bling Bling

By this, I mean social proof. Feel free to show it. Marketing lets you do that in your advance.

Mention in your ad copy any awards, wins, Trustpilot reviews, Expert proofs… Whatever you got on your site that you are proud of. Like this photographer with these ad copy examples:

Awards in ad copy example

Many internet users are skeptical of advertising, even during web hunts. So including this information creates a sense of trust and security for them and brings more customers to the business.

Potential customers have more confidence that they will be satisfied after clicking on the ad because this information testifies to the quality.

See how this jewelry brand included their social proof in ad copy examples:

Ad example

PPC Ad Copy Tip #13: Trigger Pain or Fear (Responsibly)

This isn’t my favorite PPC ad copy tip (and it just so happens to be in the 13th place on this list), but accessing negative consequences in messaging can be lucrative for marketing efforts.

But I firmly advise you use this trick responsibly and without the clickbait effect. 

So, marketers and copywriters – be responsible! Use strong language that packs a punch, but don’t be mean, condescending, or hurtful.

I suggest you read more about the fear factor in advertising on Medium for ad copy examples with fear or pain.

Know who your target audience is. This will help you determine which emotional buttons to push. Do it without overwhelming the reader.

Good-natured Approach

PPC Ad Copy Tip #14: Never Lie in Ad Copy

This one doesn’t need much explanation… Or does it?

Please, to keep this profession dignified, don’t spread lies or spam people to make money. Trickery or fraud was never cool, seriously. There aren’t many ad copy examples with these online currently running, because they get banned fast.

Pro tip: Google & Facebook algorithms are sharpened, so fraud, spam, and other misleading promises are often stopped and blocked. They will often give you ad copy examples you shouldn’t use.

PPC Ad Copy Tip #15: Catchphrases

One of my personal favorites with ad copy is poetic freedom when there is room for it! I’m talking idioms, synonym,s and catchphrases. Those should be words that fit your brand & have a delightful and positive impact on PPC. 

I use phrases.com when I can’t think of creative words off the top of my head. (Pun intended)

For example: Including a catchphrase in your headline or description aligns your organic and paid content – which is highly advised. We love being consistent across all channels!

PPC Ad Copy Tip #16: RLSA

Remarketing Lists for Search Ad are a campaign type used as a second shot of communication with users who have already visited your page.

This is an ad copy tip because here, you have an opportunity to offer something more to an audience that is already warm and searching. You can establish communication cleverly with dedicated ad copy in RLSA. Here’s an example of an old jewelry client of ours and their RLSA campaign running on Google:

RLSA is used to bring back the customers

This way, you will show this warm audience they missed out on your value, and you’re so generously reminding them and sticking out from the crowd.

Pro tip: The act of RLSA dedicated copy enforces the buyer’s cycle. We suggest you divide these customers by a page they visited:

  • All Web Site visitors
  • Product viewed
  • Add to cart
  • Initiate checkout

PPC Ad Copy Tip #17: Questions Format

Especially with remarketing campaigns, but all ad campaigns succeed when their copy is written in the form of a question. By asking a question, the copywriter creates a sense of intrigue that compels the target audience to find out the answer. 

This can be a powerful tool for getting the attention of a potential customer and motivating them to take action. Here’s an example of the company Soylent and their marketing effort on Facebook:

Facebook advertisment with Question in headline

Pro tip: Don’t overdo it with question marks ( ? ) in Google Ad copies, as they might get a significantly lower ad strength and impressions.

Conclusion

Don’t forget to test these tips and ad copy examples! Maybe you don’t need all of them. Maybe you do. Testing tips, words and approaches from this article will uncover everything and show you the perfect version of your PPC ad copy.

Check out more articles on PPC, CRO and WA on our blog.

If you need help putting any of these tips into practice or want a free audit of your PPC accounts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d happily partner with you and help turn your PPC campaigns into marketing magic.

Follow us on —> https://diligent.biz/ for more!

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