Search engine marketing (SEM) is an increasingly popular form of online advertising. SEM allows businesses to pay to place their ads above organic search results when users enter relevant keywords into a search engine.
In the wake of Apple’s recent privacy update, this high-intent traffic has caught the eye of many disillusioned former social media marketers.
But unlike social media marketing, SEM is not primarily a visual medium.
So as the competition stiffens for those all-important top positions, businesses have to rely on the quality of their ad copy to stand out from the field.
Tips To Write Better SEM Ad Copy
Here are eight tips to level up your copywriting prowess and create SEM ad copy that attracts clicks and drives sales.
1) Evaluate The Playing Field
Before creating an ad, always take a moment to survey your market. If you have not already narrowed down your target keywords, conduct keyword research using a tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Google Keyword Planner.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and brainstorm what they might type when looking for information, a solution, or products.
Look at the monthly search volume and estimated average cost per click (CPC) for each of these terms. This will help you home in on your most valuable opportunities.
Once you have located the queries you would like to target, search for each keyword yourself. Make note of the ads that appear above the organic results and take a look at the ad copy for each one. Create a list of what you believe to be the strongest and weakest examples.
When finish your analysis, you should have a well-defined idea of what your competition is doing right and where there may be room for improvement with your SEM ad copy.
2) Spy On Competitors’ Strategies
The previous step should surface not only target keywords, but also a list of potential competitors in your niche. Use a research tool like SpyFu, Serpstat, or Follow.net to take a closer look at the ad campaigns your competitors are running.
Pay particular attention to any patterns you can identify in their ad texts.
- How often are they changing their copy?
- What sorts of offers or calls to action (CTAs) are they using?
- Are there any particular ad extensions they rely on?
- Do they seem to be targeting a specific demographic?
The objective here is not to copy your competitors’ strategies verbatim, but rather to understand what is working for them and adapt those insights to your own business.
Oftentimes, this competitive intelligence can provide a starting point for your own campaigns or generate ideas for you to A/B test.
3) Write To The Search Query
Unlike other marketing channels, SEM ad copy should be a direct response to a given search query.
Rather than pitching your product or service generically, take the time to craft ads that match each keyword you are targeting as closely as possible.
Your ad text should answer the searcher’s question, provide a clear solution to their problem, or address their needs.
To make your audience feel heard, try to use the keyword in your headline. But don’t force it if it doesn’t fit — keyword stuffing is no longer an effective SEM strategy.
Instead, seek to organically integrate your target keyword into the ad copy in a way that shows an understanding of the searcher’s intent.
To automate the process of keyword inclusion, try dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) customizers. These allow you to insert a variable — usually the searcher’s query — into your ad copy
This technique can be helpful when you are targeting a large number of similar keywords. However, be aware that DKI can also result in lower quality scores if used incorrectly.
4) Create a Compelling Offer
To drive sales and compel a searcher to act, your SEM ad copy should highlight an offer that’s too good to pass up. No matter whether it’s a discount code, free shipping, or a limited-time sale, put your offer in the front and center of your ad for maximum impact.
Nailing the offer can make all the difference between a click and a scroll. Be sure it is relevant to the searcher’s needs. Use persuasive language that effectively communicates the value proposition.
If you are struggling to come up with an offer, consider creating a bundle, throwing in a freebie, dropping limited edition products, or running a contest or giveaway.
5) Understand Your Unique Selling Proposition
When you create SEM ad copy, it is important to differentiate your business from the other options available to the searcher. To stand out and attract your ideal customers, lead with your unique selling proposition (USP).
Your USP is what sets your business apart from the competition, Be sure to communicate what your USP is in a clear, concise way.
It can be anything from a proprietary product, to exemplary customer support, to a quality guarantee. Whatever it is, make sure to prominently feature it in your SEM ad copy.
6) Use The AIDA Model
The AIDA marketing model is a framework that copywriters have used for over a century to create effective ad campaigns. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
When crafting SEM ad copy, start by asking yourself how you can get the searcher’s attention. Create a headline that is both informative and eye-catching.
Then, explain why your product or service is interesting and worth their consideration.
Paint a picture of how their life will be improved with your product and use emotional triggers. And finally, include a CTA that encourages them to take action and make a purchase.
If you struggle to implement the AIDA model, try using a writing tool like Jasper.ai to spark ideas.
7) Customize For The User
Personalization has become an important part of effective marketing in recent years, and SEM is no exception.
To create SEM ad copy that dynamically adjusts to the user, take advantage of Google ad customizers.
By uploading a data feed complete with product details for your catalog, you can personalize how users see your ads.
Google ad customizers can insert the searcher’s location, a countdown timer, product information, and much more into your ads — making them more relevant and likely to result in a click.
For example, if a user is searching from a mobile device, your ad can automatically highlight your website’s mobile-friendly checkout process.
If a user is searching for a product that’s nearly out of stock, your ad can display how many items are still available.
And if a user searches for “____ near me”, your ad can reiterate the customer’s location and take them to a URL for the nearest store.
8) Test, Test, Test
Continuous testing is the only way to determine what SEM ads work best for your business. Accept that many of these ads will fail, but each test should produce a lesson that can be applied to future campaigns.
To start testing, create some SEM ad copy, and then make a variation or two that changes only one aspect of the text (e.g. different headlines or CTAs). Run this small-scale experiment as an A/B test by keeping all other variables consistent.
Once you collect enough data to determine a statistically significant winner, review the results.
After analyzing the outcome, try to form a hypothesis based on what you think worked and why. To confirm this theory, run another test with another slightly modified ad copy.
As the learnings from each of these tests compound, you will eventually develop a thorough understanding of what resonates with your target audience, as well as what is most likely to generate conversions.
By following these eight tips, you can create SEM ad copy that will help your business stand out from the competition and drive sales.
Remember to make the searcher feel heard by including their keyword in the headline, customizing the text as much as possible, and appealing to their emotions.
Finally, use your USP to differentiate your business and make an offer that the searcher would be foolish to ignore.
Even after you have found a winning combination, keep in mind that effective ad copy is always evolving. Continuously test new angles and stay up-to-date on Google’s latest product updates.
In doing so, you can ensure that your ads are always fresh, relevant, and driving revenue.
Feature Image taken as screenshot.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.
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