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Five Pay per Click Writing Strategies that Will Improve Your Return on Investment

Mar 17, 2008
The pay-per-click ad writer has very limited space in which to persuade the reader of the ad to click and visit the advertiser's web site. In our experience, straightforward ads work better than cute or funny ads. Just about any time we've tried an ad that we thought was really clever, it bombed. Stick with the details. So...how do you use such limited space and so few words to compel the reader to click the ad? Following are five strategies that will make your ad writing much more successful:

1. Use the search terms in your ad.

2. Use a call to action.

3. Get the reader's attention!

4. Write from the reader's perspective.

5. Use buzz words like "free" and "guaranteed".

The first tip above, user the search term in your ad, is the most basic but perhaps the most important. You have to find the line between keyword/ad granularity and having a manageable number of ads. The more separate ads you have with few keywords for each ad, the more effective your campaign will be because the ads will more closely match the search terms. If you can use the exact search terms, or nearly exact, in the ad body, or even better, in the title, then the more closely the ad will match what the person was looking for. Search engine keyword insertion features make it easy to dynamically insert the keyword into your ad copy.

The second tip, use a call to action, is a basic copywriting rule. Tell the reader what to do! Search engines may not allow you to use the words "Click here", but if you have room, use some similar kind of phrase to tell the reader that he needs to take some specific action: "Visit now", "Buy now", "Come see", etc. One problem with including the call to action is the limited characters you have for your marketing message. Every character is precious, and the call to action will take up at least 7 or 8 of them. What we suggest is that you have one ad with the call to action in rotation with another ad that does not (so the second ad should take advantage of the additional space). Then see which one performs better.

The third tip, get the reader's attention, seems obvious, but it's not. You should focus your ad on whatever is the ultimate, greatest benefit your prospective customer would experience by visiting your web site. That in itself is a key point - you are not trying to sell anything with your ads, you are only trying to get them to visit your web site. That's where you do the selling. The ad is really an advertisement for your web site. You only have 70 or so measly characters to convince the reader to visit your web site. Make the most of them by saying something interesting that directly relates to the reader.

The fourth tip, write from the reader's perspective, means that you should use the word "you" and emphasize the benefit to the user of visiting your web site. Using the word "you" focuses the ad on the reader, so he knows that the ad is talking to him. Every word in your ad is precious, because there are so few of them. Combing "you" with words like "free" (discussed below) is a powerful combination because it places the emphasis on two things that people love: themselves and things that are free. You need to write something that absolutely compels the reader to click the ad because of the wonderful things she will discover once she does.

The fifth tip, use buzz words like "free" and "guaranteed", is based on the fact that there are certain words that get people's attention, and "free" and "guaranteed" are high on the list. Two huge tools in the copywriter's toolbox are giving away freebies - free reports, free samples, free memberships, etc. - and reversing the prospect's risk.

Everybody loves getting something for free. Is there any kind of product (such as a report) that you could create for little or no cost and give away for free? This is especially useful for service businesses. For example, if you have an accounting firm, you could prepare a report such as "10 Ways for Any Small Business to Cut Their Taxes by 16% Next Year". Then in your paid search ads, you could mention something about your free report. Our fictitious title also highlights another classic direct marketing technique - referencing some kind of very specific number. By saying "16%" rather than "10%" or "15%", the report title implies that the author has done some kind of research to specifically arrive at the exact number 16. It lends a sense of authenticity.

Risk reversal means that you guarantee your product or service so that the customer knows he can get his money back with no trouble - you take on the risk, not the customer. Many businesses offer a guarantee by default. They will do whatever it takes to make a dissatisfied client happy. Rather than hide this fact, they should turn it into a powerful public guarantee. If you have such a guarantee, you should test ad copy that mentions the guarantee versus ad copy that does not.

Much of this discussion is based on copywriting principles that have been around for years, tweaked to apply to the online world of writing for a very small ad space. If you want to improve your pay per click ad writing, there are two sources you need to tap into. One is the ads being run by your competitors. If there are ads that seem particularly effective, maybe you can borrow from them, customizing them for your own use. The other source is the work of legendary copywriters such as Dan Kennedy, Brian Keith Voiles, and Claude Hopkins. Seek out the writings of such legends and study what they have to say about creating ad copy. Combine what you learn with the five strategies discussed above and you will be on your way to being a master ad writer.
About the Author
Jerry Work is president of Work Media, LLC, a Nashville-based company that specializes in pay per click management and search engine optimization.
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