For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, summer’s in full swing. If you’re anything like me, the warm temperature and glorious sunlight has erased the appeal of anything that doesn’t involve drinking outdoors and listening to OutKast’s catalog on repeat.
As tempting as it is to grab an overpriced sixer and throw on Stankonia, you’ve still got leads to generate and sales to make. Even if you’ve created watertight keyword lists and razor-sharp lookalike audiences, something still stands between your prospects and your business: ad copy.
A beaut. Value prop, social proof, sitelinks—we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
At the end of the day, you need people to click on your ads—awareness campaigns on YouTube and the GDN notwithstanding. To be more precise, you need the right people to click on your ads. In order to make that happen, you need to elevate your copywriting game.
Writing ad copy for Facebook isn’t quite the same as writing ad copy for Google—different platforms favor different techniques.
1. Align your messaging with the customer journey
Google strives to serve users the most relevant search results possible. When judging the relevance of the various ads competing in a given auction, Google relies on keywords. In a nutshell, keywords help Google determine which ads are relevant to a particular query. That’s why it’s considered best practice to target specific keywords with your ad copy.
Now—I’m not about to argue that you shouldn’t include target keywords in your ad copy. However, I am of the opinion that keywords shouldn’t be your main focus when writing ads. Instead, you should be focused on meeting the unique needs of whoever’s searching for something related to your business—and that means aligning your messaging with the various stages of the customer journey.
Here’s what I mean by that. Across the pool of search queries triggering your ads, the users making those searches are at different stages in the customer journey—the path people take from the realization of a problem to the purchase of a solution. Whereas someone at the very beginning of their customer journey—known as the awareness stage—is mostly interested in learning more about the options they can choose from, someone nearing the end of their customer journey—known as the conversion stage—is far more likely to make a purchase.
TripAdvisor’s ad is perfect for someone at the beginning of their customer journey.
When evaluating the search results and deciding which one to click, users are guided by whatever it is they need to accomplish at that moment in time. Therefore, enticing users to click on your ads requires writing ads that help them do what they need to do. Often, this commitment to aligning your copy with the stages of the customer journey means being a bit more relaxed about keyword targeting. And that’s okay.
Think of it this way: Nobody clicks on an ad because they’re impressed by its keyword density. Instead, they click on an ad because it makes a compelling offer.
2. Tell people why they shouldn’t click on your ad
Wait—what? Aren’t we here to talk about writing ads that entice people to click? Why the heck would I tell people to not click on my ads?
Because sometimes your ads will be triggered by people who are more likely to forge a friendship between Matt Barnes and Derek Fisher than become your customer. It seems absurdly obvious, but it warrants boldface text: You don’t want users to click on your ads unless there’s a chance they’ll eventually become your customers. Otherwise, you’re spending money on clicks that offer nothing in return. That’s … less than ideal.
In a perfect world, there’d be a surefire way to completely eliminate any chance of attracting unqualified clicks. Although, sadly, that’s not the case, there are copywriting strategies you can use to reduce the risk of those budget-draining clicks taking place. The most straightforward way to do this is using your copy to tell users who your product or service is for—thus communicating who it’s not for at the same time.
If you’re not a student, you wouldn’t click this ad, would you?
For example, let’s say your company sells specialty skin care products for women. In order to drive high-funnel website traffic and fill your remarketing pool, you’re bidding on the modified broad match keyword +skin +care +products. There’s a problem, of course: The ads you’ve tied to this keyword can easily be triggered by male users. Because your products are exclusively for women, you don’t want men clicking on your ads. So what do you do? Simple—you include the phrase “for women” in your ads’ headlines and descriptions. Although this tactic won’t eliminate all clicks from male users, it will certainly reduce them.
2 tips to write your best Facebook ads ever
Although Google has certainly stepped up their audience targeting game over the past few years, Facebook is still the platform to use when setting your sights on specific groups of people. As powerful as that is, getting your messaging in front of the right prospects is only half the battle; the messaging itself is still extremely important. Here are two of our best tips for writing the best Facebook ads you possibly can.
1. Test, test, test
Being a digital marketer—or a business owner who moonlights as a digital marketer—means making assumptions. When we advertise in the Google search results, we assume that the keywords we’re targeting reflect the level of intent we’re looking for. When we create a Facebook custom audience, we assume that the users we’re going after will be interested in our offer. And when we write ad copy, we assume that it will resonate with our prospects.
We hate to break it to you, but that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes, the Facebook ad copy you’ve agonized over will miss the mark—as indicated by a low click-through rate (failure to entice the right users) or a low conversion rate (failure to ward off the wrong users).
Although you can’t get around making assumptions, you can turn those assumptions into valuable learning experiences. That’s why it’s crucial to run A/B tests.
An A/B test, quite simply, is an exercise that compares the performance of two ads. Although you can use this strategy to optimize a range of Facebook advertising assets—your target audience, your call to action, etc.—A/B testing works especially well when refining your ad copy. Ultimately, you want to answer a single question: Does a particular style of messaging resonate with our audience significantly better than another style of messaging?
Changing “viral growth” to “10X more traffic” could move the needle. Only one way to find out.
Here’s a simple example. You’re just getting started with Facebook advertising and you want to find out which tone—casual or professional—your target audience prefers. For one week, you could target that audience with a casual-sounding ad. The next week, you could target the same users with a professional-sounding ad. If one version performs significantly better than the other, you’ve got yourself an actionable copywriting insight!
2. Do your best to blend in
Unfortunately, we’re going to be the bearers of bad news once again: Generally speaking, people don’t like being advertised to—especially when they’re just trying to post some photos or check in on their friends’ status updates. In fact, Facebook has taken this into account with their ad auction algorithm. The less engagement Facebook expects your ad to get—that is, the less Facebook expects your target audience to like your ad—the worse you’ll perform.
Does this mean you should give up altogether? Of course not—Facebook advertising works really well. What it does mean is that you need to write ads that create a good experience for the users you’re targeting—and that means blending in with your surroundings.
Believe it or not, writing Facebook ads that don’t disrupt the user experience is simpler than it sounds. All you have to do is think carefully about what your target audience wants to see. Remember what we said earlier about writing Google Ads copy that matches your prospects’ stages in the customer journey? You can use that same basic philosophy to create effective, relevant Facebook ads that blend seamlessly into your prospects’ News Feeds.
Not to get too meta on you guys, but … this is a great ad.
Let’s use another example. You’ve been advertising on Facebook for a little while now and you’re eager to introduce your business to a new crop of users. So you create a lookalike audience based on the people who’ve clicked on your ads in the past. Taking into account that this is the first time these users will be engaging with your business, asking them to sign up for a free trial of your product is a surefire way to not blend in; that ad would stick out like a sore thumb. Alternatively, asking them to check out a video or a blog post is totally appropriate—so appropriate that some users may initially realize that it’s an ad! That’s a winner.
This post was co-written by Holly Niemiec and Conor Bond.