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5 Essentials for Writing Online Ad Copy That Sells

Online ad copy is the text that appears in an advertisement. It's what you see when you search for a product or service online and what persuades you to click on that advertisement.

Advertising has changed dramatically over the last few years as technology has advanced, and consumers have become savvier about how they use their time online. As a result, writing effective online ads requires a combination of creativity, technical know-how and strategic thinking--all skills that can be learned with practice.

Let's discuss some essential tips for writing compelling ad copy so that your business stands out from competitors' ads when people search for products or services on Google (and other search engines).

Understand Your Audience

The first step in writing compelling online ad copy, dear reader, is understanding your audience. Who are they, their needs and wants, and how can you best reach them? This can be a complex process that requires research into demographics (age, gender), psychographics (values, lifestyle) and behavior (what they do online).

Once you've identified your target audience, think about how this group might respond to different types of messaging. What motivates them to buy from you? How can you use information about them and the product or service sold to create a compelling message that speaks directly to those motivations?

Develop a Unique Voice

We've found that a critical step in developing a unique voice is ensuring you're speaking to the right audience. If your target market is young men, don't write copy that appeals to middle-aged women. You need to understand who your customers are and what they want before you can develop an effective advertising campaign.

Once you've identified your target customer, focus on how best to speak directly with them through your ad copy. What words do they use? How do they talk? What kind of language do they respond well to? The more specific and accurate information about their preferences and habits you can gather, the better equipped you'll be when it comes time to write online ads that sell.

Create a Compelling Headline

A headline is the first thing a reader sees when they land on your ad. It's what compels them to click through and read more about your product or service.

A compelling headline has three key elements:

  • It's specific, not vague. Vague headlines don't tell the reader what they will get from reading the ad copy, so they won't be interested in clicking through. Instead of using vague terms like "best" or "greatest," use specific numbers (like "the #1 travel company") or descriptive words (like "cheap").
  • It includes an emotion-grabbing word or phrase (like "free"!) that makes readers want whatever it is being offered--and this can be done without being overly salesy!

Write Clear and Concise Copy

To ensure your copy is clear and concise, use these techniques:

Use active voice. Active voice is a style of writing that uses the subject of a sentence as its verb. For example, "I am going to the store" versus "Going to the store is something I do." The first sentence has more punch because it emphasizes what YOU are doing--not what someone else does (or something).

Avoid wordiness. Wordy sentences usually contain unnecessary words that can be cut out without changing your message's meaning or tone. For example, it would be beneficial if you could get back to me as soon as possible to discuss this further. This could be rewritten: "Please get back to me ASAP so we can discuss this further."

Include a Call to Action

Call to action is a term that refers to the part of your ad copy where you ask for the reader's attention. It's an essential part of any good ad but it can be tricky. There are plenty of ways to go about this--you could ask them to click on a link or call you directly.

Whatever method you choose should be clear and direct without being too aggressive or pushy.

Include Visuals

Including visuals in your online ad copy is a great way to create an engaging and informative experience for readers. But what types of visuals should you use? And how can you make sure they are engaging?

In general, three types of images work well in online advertising:

  • Images that illustrate the product or service being offered
  • Images that create a sense of urgency (e.g., "limited time offer")
  • Images designed to elicit emotion from readers, so they feel compelled to take action

Optimize for SEO

Optimizing your ad copy for SEO is essential to writing online ads that sell. If you don't optimize for search engine optimization (SEO), then you can't expect to get far in online advertising.

The first thing you need to do when optimizing your ads is determined which keywords will work best for them. This is important because it will help you figure out what kind of content people are searching for when they come across these ads, so this information must match up with what they're looking for when they click on them and visit your site or landing page.

Test and Measure

The most important thing to do is test and measure. You can't know if your ad copy is working unless you try different versions of it, so start by creating several variations of your ad and split-testing them with a small group of users who are similar in their demographics and interests. Then compare the results from each variation over time to see which ones are performing best.

If you don't want to use an external tool, another option would be setting up A/B tests manually using Google Analytics Custom Variables feature (you'll need access through Analytics).


You now know the basics of writing online ad copy that sells. It's time to put your knowledge into practice, or simply hire us to do the donkey work for you!


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