Oct 7, 2020

How to write Google Ads copy that converts

11-MINUTE READ | By Misty Faucheux

Google AdsPerformance Marketing Analytics

[ Updated Feb 28, 2023 ]

You’ve done your research, found the best keywords for your target audience, and pulled together the optimal budget, but you’re still not getting any traffic to your Google Ads campaign. 

While the issue might be related to any number of problems, more than likely it has to do with your Google Ads copy. Without the right ad text, potential visitors might be skipping over your well-placed ad for another. 

So, how do you draw in the target audience that you want and increase your overall results?

Step 1: Define what success looks like

Running a bunch of different ads isn’t enough. You also need to be constantly improving your overall ad performance. One way to do that is to run tests on creative copy. 

This involves creating a schedule for running ads — i.e. test two sets of messaging for a month or until they have received enough impressions. The key, however, is not to test too many elements. If you’re testing two different sets of copy, only change, for example, the headlines, but leave the descriptions and maybe the second headline the same.

Next, you need to determine which metrics mean the most to you. For some, that might be clicks, especially if a marketer is trying to drive brand awareness to a new site or service. For others, that will be conversions and leads. This will affect which ads are more effective for your needs. 

Now that you have a few different sets of messaging running, you need to analyze the data. Supermetrics for Google Sheets makes analyzing copy variants easy.

With different templates available, you can quickly import your Google Ads copy and determine which ads are performing the best and where there’s room for improvement.

Import your Google Ads copy

But you need to look beyond simple clicks and conversions. Some ads might be driving a lot of clicks, but those clicks are costing you a small fortune. CPC and CPA are just as important as other metrics. While one ad might be driving fewer conversions, the CPA might be a fraction of the cost of other ads. So, if it’s served more, then it might get more conversions as opposed to another ad that is eating up your entire budget.

You have the option to set your ads to rotate indefinitely or optimize. Optimize will usually be the better choice since this setting will deliver ads that better match your success metrics.

Google Ads has an option to create an ad copy test. This might be the easiest way to test a few different ad variations.

Step 2: Think about your audience

While you should have done this from the get-go, many of us get caught up in searching for the right keywords without actually thinking about the messaging.

Will an emotional appeal work better than just stating the facts? Or does your audience prefer very logical copy that plainly states how your solution addresses their problems? 

While you might be the number one coffee shop in the area, that might not be enough to draw in a new audience. Instead, you might have to try messaging like: “Special Roasted Dark Beans – Only Found at Café Ole”. 

But if you’re an IT company, a busy IT manager may only have a few minutes to determine which solution will solve their business need. In this case, facts might all be that’s needed. Test a mix of both types of messages to get a better feel for your audience.

Step 3: Ensure that you’re using the right keywords in the copy

You need to reflect what the searcher is looking for so ensure that your main keywords are in the ad copy – preferably in the headlines. But you don’t want to be spammy about it. For example, if you offer tax preparation services, a good set of ad headlines would be something like this:

Headline 1: Save money on tax preparation 

Headline 2: Local accounting agency

A poor example of this would be like the following:

Headline 1: Tax preparation company

Headline: Tax preparation services

You’re basically just repeating your keywords and wasting space — and you’re probably turning off your potential clients.

You should also try to be as specific as possible. To further expand on the above example, if your agency services a specific area, feel free to call it out, i.e. “Phoenix Area Tax Preparation”. This also helps with search intent. The person is clearly looking for an accountant in the Phoenix area if this is the main search term.

Note: if you want to use many different keywords, always break them up into ad groups. You don’t want a single ad group with a ton of keywords with ads that are nearly exactly the same, except for the main keyword. You should instead create specific ads for each type of keyword.

Step 4: Experiment with showing prices in your ad copy

One of the biggest questions often asked of marketers is if they should add pricing to advertising — whether it be a sales sheet, whitepaper or Google Ads copy. 

The answer to that is going to be “depends” — and that really means depending on your audience. But the only way to find out is if you actually test a few different ads with and without pricing. 

Ad with pricing

Adding pricing to an ad will alert consumers both to the actual price of the product as well as reminding them that items are not free. So, that might be a turn-off for a few consumers. In this case, it might be better to drive the potential customers to a landing page, talk about the value props of the product or service and then lay the price on them.

But still, try running a few ads with and without pricing to determine how well your consumers respond.

Few ads without pricing

Step 5: Run a promotion

We’d all like customers to love our products so much that they’ll pay full price the second that they visit our landing page. But that is pretty far from reality. Instead, most people need an incentive to try a product or service. And the best way to ensure that they even click on the ad is to add that promotional language to the Google Ads copy.

Ad with incentive

One good thing is that numbers tend to take up less real estate than written-out promotions. So, instead of “Half Off Your First Purchase”, you could change it to “50% Off Your First Purchase”. It uses up less characters, and the reader can immediately comprehend the promotion.

It’s worth taking the time to write up a few different versions of the headlines and description with your promotions, and do some A/B testing to determine which versions work the best.

Step 6: Don’t be boring

While that could be a life lesson in and of itself, it’s also true when it comes to ad copy. The amount of characters available is extremely limited. So, you’re probably not going to express everything that you need to say within the limit. While straightforward copy is fine, it might not be enough to draw in the crowd that will convert.

So, you need to get a little creative. You need to incorporate the searchers intent, but still pique their curiosity. If you look at the two ads below, the second talks about the Labor Day sale in very generic terms. 

The top one, on the other hand, showcases the fact that the seller provides quality mattresses, but takes it a step further by stimulating the curiosity of the reader with the editor’s number one pick reference.

Ad with editor’s number one pick

While in the past, we might have been told not to stand out from the crowd, that advice doesn’t work anymore. There are thousands of ads competing with ours — from display to text to shopping. You can’t just write up any old ad and hope that you’ll get customers. Do something different and fresh, and you may in fact earn you a few clicks in the process.

Step 7: Focus on your CTAs

We all know that there are only so many calls to action that we can use, and we might get stuck using the same ones over and over again. 

But if we’re not getting a response, it could also be because your potential visitors are also tired of the same CTAs. Instead of going with the tried and true of “download now”, “buy here”, etc., try throwing in some of the words below, which were pulled from the highest performing ads in a WordStream study:

  • Your
  • Free
  • Now
  • Get
  • Online
  • Our
  • Save
  • Best
  • Shipping
  • You

So, for example, you could try something like this: “Save Online Now”, “Free Shipping” or “View Our Best Deals”.

Step 8: Use punctuation

Another WordStream study showed that only 42% of ads used exclamation points, and less than a quarter used commas, question marks, percentage signs or dollar signs. This means that punctuation is an underutilized item in ads. Yet, exclamation points can be beneficial to your ads.

Punctuation in ads

While not used very often, some of the top-performing ads used exclamation points and commas. This might have to do with the fact that they’re something different, which helps the ad stand out from the crowd.

Don’t, however, go crazy with punctuation. If you want to test whether a dollar sign on a particular ad will make a difference, only add a dollar sign to the ad copy you want to test. Don’t add a dollar sign and exclamation point to the test ad. You won’t know which punctuation made the difference.

Step 9: Test dynamic keyword insertion

Dynamic keyword insertion is not a new concept, but it’s amazing how few people have actually attempted to use it in their ads. Dynamic keyword insertion lets you customize an ad based on how people are searching.

It all starts with your ad group and your list of keywords. If your client is a dental office, then you might have keywords like:

  • Orthodontist
  • Dentist
  • Dental Office, etc.

To extend this example, let’s say that you have an ad with a headline “$500 Off Dental Visit”. Now, if someone is searching for an “orthodontist office”, your ad may change to “$500 Off Orthodontist”.

The goal of dynamic keyword insertion is to make your ads more relevant to users to encourage them to click on the ad.

To create a headline that uses this, you need to add the following snippet of code into your headline {KeyWord:Dentist}. 

There are two things going on here. One, a keyword from your Ad Group will be inserted if someone searches for a word similar to ones in your ad group — as indicated in the example above. 

If the headline winds up being too long because of the user-generated keyword (i.e. $500 Off Dental Office Visit Tampa), then the word after the colon will be inserted instead: $500 Off Dentist.

You must follow the instructions carefully to ensure that your ad is running properly.

Step 10: Ask questions

If you consider how people search these days, it’s usually related to trying to get some type of question answered. “Where’s the nearest mechanic?” “What’s the best restaurant in downtown Cleveland?”. So, it makes sense to test these in your advertising. It helps you stand out from the crowd, and — as mentioned previously — some of the top-performing ads include punctuation.

You can pose a question in the headline and then answer your question in the description.

Step 11: Experiment with dynamic search ads

Similar to dynamic keyword insertion in the sense that the ads change based on the searchers’ intent, these ads take things a step further. Dynamic search ads (DSAs) leverage the information on your website or product feed to create highly targeted, dynamically generated ads. 

Marketers have less control over these ads since the only item that they’ll be writing is the description. This makes creating ads much easier, and it basically eliminates most of the ad copy creation steps. 

But you must monitor these ads since they may not be as effective as highly targeted ads with your own carefully researched keywords and messaging. 

Step 12: Optimize your landing pages

Your ads might also not be effective if the landing pages don’t match the ad copy. Ensure that the headlines of the landing page reflect what’s in the ad copy and make it easy for visitors to find items on the page. 

Landing pages should be simple without too many items. The goal of the landing page is to drive conversions. So, make your CTAs, form fills, “buy now” buttons, etc. easy to discover in the flow of the page. Also, don’t make the mistake of having the banner take up most of the page, especially if none of your conversion CTAs are in the banner. Visitors might bounce before they scroll down to the meat of the page.

So, if you’re getting clicks but no conversions, the culprit might be the landing page and not the ad copy.

Step 13: Never stop optimizing

If you start seeing improvements in your campaign, this isn’t the time to stop and just let the campaign run. You still need to keep checking on your campaigns on a regular basis. 

If you’re running the same ads month-in and month-out, your audience may get fatigued. In which case, it will be time to test a few new ads.

If your campaigns still aren’t doing well, then go through each ad carefully. See if any ads have had even incremental improvement. Isolate these ads, and try tweaking them. Then, run some additional A/B tests. Do some additional research, including looking at your competitors’ ads — especially those winning bids and that are placed at the top of the SERPs.

If you are constantly reviewing and testing your Google Ads copy, your campaigns will start to do better, including winning bids and obtaining the success metrics that you desire.

And remember, to easily analyze the results of your experiments, you can start your free 14-day trial of Supermetrics for Google Sheets.

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