- Digital, or online, ad copy should compel your target audience to take action with persuasive and punchy headlines, body text, and calls to action
- Keep your ad copy as concise and simple as possible to let your selling point shine, and always back up your claims
- Perform A/B tests on your ad copy to understand how small tweaks to one variable at a time impact your results
As the digital advertising landscape becomes increasingly competitive—with $164.6 billion spent on search ads alone in 2022—honing your ad writing skills can differentiate you from your competitors and help you create the most click-worthy advertisements possible.
A visually appealing advertisement with a compelling headline draws in customers, while persuasive words convince them to take action and boost your credibility. The right tagline adds context to your promotions and gives readers a reason to care about your brand.
Read on to discover seven tips for writing effective digital ad copy, along with three ad copy examples to inspire your future campaigns.
What is ad copy?
Advertising copy is the text that appears in paid advertisements—from newspaper ads to billboards to online sites. It should generate leads, increase sales, and boost engagement with your brand. Online, or digital, ad templates often consist of three core elements:
- Headline: a short phrase that captures your audience’s attention.
- Body: a brief description, usually two sentences max, that offers context about what makes your product, service, or brand great.
- Call to action (CTA): a short phrase (like “sign up now”) that directs your audience to the next step. This text often appears on a clickable CTA button, which sends readers to a relevant landing page or form.
Some advertising platforms might also include a subheading that appears below your headline and a link description to allow people to preview the web page you’re driving them to.
How to write effective digital ad copy
Whether you’re writing ad copy for social media, search engines, or other platforms, be sure it is creative, persuasive, and relevant in order to get results.
These seven copywriting tips (and the three ad copy examples that follow) will help you write good ad copy that achieves your goals.
1. Focus on your target audience
You need to know your target market to write ad copy that directly addresses their needs. Research your potential buyers and create profiles of their characteristics, including their demographics, location, motivations, pain points, and interests. Using this profile, known as a buyer persona, you can illustrate the value of whatever you’re promoting in a way that appeals to your ideal customer.
2. Write an eye-catching headline
Your headline is typically the first part of your ad copy that customers will read. Make the font and colors eye-catching (while still being on-brand) and keep the text succinct. Perhaps you ask a question or briefly allude to their pain points. You might even consider using an emoji in your headline if it fits your company’s brand.
Pay attention to character limits on each ad platform as you write your headline. For example, if you’re writing Facebook ad copy, your headline can’t exceed 40 characters. For a LinkedIn ad, the limit is 45 characters.
3. Create a sense of urgency
The best ad copy can turn interest into action. When you create a sense of urgency, your potential customers will feel more driven to take the next step right away. Keywords like “limited time offer” or “one day only” can inspire actions like sales and subscriptions.
Some ad copy examples you can use to build urgency include:
- “This sale disappears when the sun goes down.”
- “Get 20% off this weekend only.”
- “Come in today before the sale goes away.”
Avoid phrases that feel cliché, manipulative, or scammy, as these can turn customers off and negatively impact your brand. Also don’t overuse exclamation points and capital letters because they can make your ad copy seem insincere.
4. Back up your claims
When you make strong claims in your headline or body text, such as calling yourself the best option in your industry, it’s important to provide evidence.
Consider sharing social proof, such as a testimonial or a Yelp review, alongside your ad copy to build confidence in your claim. Or you can back up your assertion by including a money-back guarantee.
5. Create a clear call to action
Customers don’t always know what they should do next. Include a clear and persuasive call to action (CTA) to guide them in the right direction.
Start your CTA with an action verb, like “download,” “sign up,” or “subscribe,” so it’s crystal clear what the next step is. CTAs should be action-oriented and concise, and evoke appropriate emotions with “power words” that can convey everything from curiosity to value to a sense of connection.
Tip: Learn more about crafting effective CTAs with five call-to-action writing techniques.
6. Simplify—and simplify again
The best ad copy examples to learn from are simple and direct.
Ad copy shouldn’t be complex. While being creative, it should get straight to the selling point, which includes the most enticing details you have to offer.
Chances are, you can eliminate extra words (or even sentences) from your first draft to make your ad more punchy and concise. Cut out wordiness, use simpler synonyms, and eliminate industry jargon.
Additionally, focus each ad on only one value proposition (a benefit you’ll deliver to customers). This will create a clear takeaway for your potential clients.
7. Test your ad copy
It’s rare that you’ll craft excellent ad copy on the first try. For most copywriters, perfection is a process. To maximize conversions—the number of people who become leads after viewing your ad campaign—you need to test your copy before releasing it to a larger audience.
A/B testing is a popular strategy for comparing the performance of two similar ads. For instance, if you want to find out which headline gets more clicks, you’d run two ad campaigns that have different headlines (but are otherwise identical) to understand how a small change impacts metrics like your click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate.
When performing an A/B test on any digital advertising platform, you should compare only one variable at a time and keep your target audience small. After you know which headline is performing best, you can expand your winning campaign to your larger target audience.
SEO writing vs. ad copywriting
Search engine optimization (SEO) and digital advertising have similarities, but they refer to two different kinds of digital marketing strategies. SEO generates free (or organic) traffic, while pay-per-click (PPC) advertising costs money.
SEO writing and ad copy may incorporate some of the same words and phrases, but it’s important to know the difference between them.
SEO involves researching keywords that people are typing into search engines and ensuring that your website contains content related to those search queries. This increases the chances of the algorithm directing searchers to your website.
Digital advertising, on the other hand, appeals directly to viewers through the use of emotional words and phrases.
Some ads may appear above or next to search results, such as Google Ads and other cost-per-click (CPC) or pay-per-click (PPC) ads, or on other websites.
For example, with Yelp Ads, you can pay to have your business listing appear above the search results and on competitors’ listings. Views are free, so you’ll only pay when someone clicks on your ad, and you can set an ad budget so you don’t overspend.
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3 great ad copy examples
Ad copy will look different depending on what type of ad you’re running and where you’re running it. However, the basics of what makes a good ad typically remain the same. Below are three ad copy examples to inspire your next campaign.
Skincare brand GLAMGLOW offers immense visual appeal with colorful, vertical video ads that stand out on potential customers’ Facebook feeds. Once customers stop scrolling, GLAMGLOW’s ad copy is what gets them to act. The body copy includes witty statements while highlighting the clear benefits of its product:
“Are you a shopping-bc-sad or shopping-bc-not-sad person? We’re both. Stock up on the award-winning SUPERMUD instant clearing treatment for ANY reason at glamglow.com”
This ad contains a brief product description and a clear call to action, while conveying GLAMGLOW’s casual, relatable tone. The company also starts ad headlines with “NEW,” which can spark the interest of influencers and early adopters, who love being the first to try new products.
2. JD Sports
JD Sports, a global retailer of branded sports apparel, targets keywords like “Nike shoes” in search engine ads to get in front of its ideal customers. Its ad copy examples feature headlines that double as CTAs because they lead with clear, action-oriented verbs like “shop.”
In the ad copy, the retailer then highlights a few perks of buying from its ecommerce store, such as “free and easy returns” and the ability to “pay with Afterpay.” This emphasizes the smooth customer experiences and differentiates JD Sports from its competition.
IT management software company Atera takes advantage of carousel ads on LinkedIn, which display rotating tiles with different information. Carousels allow you to incorporate multiple CTAs and headlines in an ad, while ensuring that each individual ad panel contains a specific CTA or value proposition to spark customers’ interest.
With more ad real estate to work with, the company can directly address more customer pain points and concerns, such as reassuring readers that no contracts are necessary and pricing is simple. Carousel ads are a great option when you have a lot to say, but including it all on a single panel would lead to confusion or clutter.
Improving your digital ad campaign results
Effective ad copy sparks customer interest and provides your business with measurable results. Once potential customers are drawn in by your headline (and an eye-catching visual), use your ad text to offer social proof or other backup for your claims and to expand on your value proposition.
Then seal the deal with a clear CTA that encourages customers to join your email list, sign up for a free trial, or take another desired action.
Once you know how to craft ads that will appeal to your target audience, discover seven free ways to advertise your local business.
What does good ad copy have?
Unless your ad is solely for brand awareness, your ad copy should communicate your message clearly and concisely and contain emotional triggers that prompt the viewer to take action. Viewers may click on your ad out of FOMO (fear of missing out), curiosity, or a sense of identification with your brand or small business.
Your ad should link to a relevant page of your website, such as a landing page for a specific product that describes the product’s benefits in more detail.
How long should ad copy be?
The ideal length of a digital ad depends on which platform it appears on. If you look at some ad copy examples, you’ll see that search ads and social media ads typically have a character limit, such as 30 characters for the headline and 125 characters for the body of a text ad.
Content marketing and social media marketing don’t have the same limits, so if you want to provide more information, include it on a landing page or blog post.
What should ad copy avoid?
Ad copy should avoid phrases that sound scammy or manipulative. Some platforms have restrictions on what types of ads you can post and what kind of words you can use. For example, Facebook ad campaigns can’t target “personal attributes” or address sensitive health issues. The same is true for Instagram ads.
Digital ads should also avoid “keyword stuffing” or using the same words and phrases too many times in a single advertisement.
How much do copywriters charge?
Freelance marketplace Upwork estimates that hiring a copywriter to write a PPC ad can cost anywhere from $50 to $200. Website copy costs $200 to $500 per page, while the cost of a landing page ranges from $4,500 to $10,000.
Although small business owners and entrepreneurs can learn to write high-quality ad copy themselves, a professional copywriter brings experience and specialized writing skills that may result in a higher conversion rate. Be sure to preview ad copy examples before hiring a professional so you can trust that you’ll get high-quality ads for your products and services.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.