Paid ads are one of the most effective forms of marketing. And while the return is dependent on numerous factors, BigCommerce says that a benchmark of 4:1 is a common return on ad spend. 

Gone are the days when Google dominated the paid ad sector. Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok rank among the top spots for the placement of paid ads. 

While advancements in technology (I’m specifically talking about tracking cookies) make it easier to get your ads seen by the people you want to see them, if the ad copy is poorly written, you won’t see the ROI you expect. 

So, let’s dive straight in with my 7 tips for writing paid ad copy: 

7 tips on how to write paid ads

1. Know what benefits your product brings to people’s lives

While you may be hyped about how great your product/service is. The truth is, people don’t give a toss! All they want to know is what it can do for them.

So, like every aspect of marketing, your messaging should be focused on the benefits your product/service brings to people’s lives, and not the product’s features. It will be surprising if you aren’t sure what the benefits of your product/service are, but if you need clarification, ask people who have bought from you or conduct research with people who you have identified would buy you from you. 

Example:

The description for the Clarks ad above leads with a benefit – Keep your feet warm this winter.

2. Understand what your competitors are doing

Understanding how your closest competitors are positioning themselves with paid ads will give you ideas on how to make your brand/product/service stand out – the hook that will get people to click on your ad instead of your competitors. 

It could be you use price, design, location, exclusivity, etc., as your hook.

Undertaking competitor research is essential, but it can also be time-consuming. To quicken it up, use a site like SEMRUSH to analyse your competitor’s ad spend and keyword targeting. 

3. Write within the limits

There may be a lot you want to say in your paid ads, but you have to be specific as you haven’t got much space to say it in. To make matters harder, each platform has its own character limit that you have to work with. So, if you think you can replicate the ad word-for-word across different platforms, you can’t!

For reference, here are the character limits for the most popular paid ad platforms (these are current as of October ‘22): 

Google:

Headline: 30 characters (you can have three headlines)

Description: 90 characters (you can have two descriptions)

Path: 15 characters (this includes URL and text) 

Facebook (image ads):

Headline: 40 characters

Primary text: 125 characters

Description: 25 characters 

NB: Your copy can extend these limits, but it may cut off in the display. 

Instagram (image ads): 

Headline: 40 characters

Primary text: 125 characters 

NB: Your copy can extend these limits, but it may cut off in the display. 

TikTok (image ads):

App name: 4-40 characters

Brand name: 2-20 characters

Description: 1-100 characters 

NB: Character limit may be different for other languages. 

4. Make your paid ad copy personal 

The aim of your ads is to get people to buy from you. And there’s an increased possibility  people will do this if your ad copy is personal. So, ditch I, we, for you and your. 

This easy switch makes your ad (and brand) seem friendly and helpful, and this helps your audience trust you. 

Example:

The two ads above are for a similar service (someone to look after your pooch) but each have taken a different approach to writing their ad copy. Pawshake have used ‘Your’ and ‘You’ to communicate directly to their audience, while Rover have gone for more generic words, like ‘The’ and ‘Ours’. 

Personally, I prefer Pawshake’s copy. What about you?

5. Start with a strong headline

The headline is the first thing people see, so it has to appeal to their interests. The most effective way is to include a keyword in the headline. The keyword is typically the search term that people enter into Google, etc, or a word that people relate your brand to. For example, Tesla is associated with ‘electric cars’. 

Another tactic is to solve people’s problems. A headline that shows you can solve a problem someone is experiencing, and therefore making their life easier, will make your ad more clickable. 

6. Use ‘action’ words

Action words are verbs that describe what action you want people to take. And they are key to driving conversions – people clicking on the ad and buying, subscribing…whatever you want them to do after reading the ad. 

The ‘action’ words you use in your ads will depend on your business, the industry it’s in, and what your intent is. Here are some examples of action words that are used by businesses in different sectors:

eCommerce: Buy now, Save, Add to cart, Buy and save, 

Charity / Non-profit: Donate, Support, Take action, Make a difference

Educational: Subscribe, Sign up, Download, Get now, Discover 

SaaS: Sign up, Try for free, Join, Get a demo, 

7. Include numbers

Numbers are hugely persuasive and help cement the meaning of a message. This is because  our brains are drawn to information that’s easier to understand. One of the reasons for this is that we’ve taught ourselves to believe that we are constantly busy, and we don’t have the time to read through text to find the information we are most interested in. That’s why numbers in headlines are powerful, particularly if it’s saying that you can save money. Everyone loves a discount, right? I know I do! 

Example: 

Looking at this example, the top ad is definitely attention-grabbing and clickable, compared to the ad with ‘fantastic value’, because what does this mean as value is subjective. 

Summary: Tips for writing paid ads: 

  1. Know what benefits your product brings to people lifes
  2. Understand what your competition are doing
  3. Write within the limits
  4. Make your paid ad copy personal 
  5. Start with a strong headline
  6. Use ‘action’ words
  7. Include numbers

Want more great copywriting tips? You’ll find plenty on my blog