Writing ad copy for B2B

Condensing an advertising message into 95 characters is a difficult task for marketers; they must leverage compelling calls-to-action, positioning statements, clear value propositions, and competitive differentiators, yet still be creative. It is a very tall order to squish all of that into such a limited number of characters. Creating ad copy that is compelling is one of the hardest, yet most important tasks of creating paid search campaigns.

The number of times I have written an ad that I thought was awesome only to find out I had hit 36 characters on a description line is enough to drive a person totally mental.

So how do you write good ad copy for B2B? The answer starts with knowing the goals of each campaign and working backwards. What is the action that you want the person to take on your site and how does the landing page relate to that end goal and then how do we translate that into your ad message. Your ad message is the first part of a continuous marketing message that lasts right through to the conversion; yet it has to be compelling enough to stand out on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and entice someone to click on it.

Additionally, at the risk of sounding a little too much like Sun Tzu, knowing your competitive advantage or value proposition against that of your competitors is extremely important. This fact can be a great differentiator on the SERPs and contribute to a higher click through rate (CTR). However, your competitive advantage should be something that speaks directly to your customers’ known needs. Moreover, and this is a great exercise for marketers doing branding campaigns – can you communicate your competitive advantage in a few brief words that your customers would actually identify with?

Let’s examine some key considerations when writing your ad copy and then look at some best practices.

Information Scent: When a searcher is entering in a search query into a search engine, they are automatically developing a semantic map of related terminology. This process continues as the searcher scans the search results page for areas where we see the highest concentration of those related terminology, the area of greatest promise. This is where the user will start to concentrate their search efforts. With ad copy, it is important to know the related terminology associated to your product and leverage that within the ad copy. For example, if you are selling lead management software, the inclusion of keywords such as software, demo, application into the ad copy would increase the information scent with the ads.

Front Load Your Ad: Most scanning activity is concentrated on the left side of the page and therefore, thinking about how your ad copy will appear on the search results, it is important to include important keywords as much as possible near the beginning of the headlines and description lines where it is most likely to be seen.

Use Hidden Keywords: Hidden keywords are the terms that act like triggers to entice action or visual cues aligned with the persuasive message of the ad. Hidden keywords are those terms /phrases that will increase the perception of trust such as social proof, demos, comparison guides or reviews.

Treat your title like Gold

Treat your Titles like Gold: Your title is one of the most important elements of the ad. Where possible, leverage your title and keywords together to create a stronger call to action or positioning statement. For example if the keyword was CRM Software, simply using that keyword within the title will increase hit bolding, but combining that keyword with a call-to-action or positioning statement can significantly power of that ad such as “World’s Most Popular CRM” or “Compare Top 40 CRM Apps.”

Break Up Text Patterns: SERPs can appear to be rather text heavy, the inclusion of numbers and symbols can break up the text pattern and visually attract the eye.

Prequalify the visitor with your ad copy as much as possible. Several products for B2B have significant cross-over with similar-use products for B2C purchases. The commonalities between the terms may not be easily distinguishable, if at all, therefore including business-focused messaging in the ad copy will assist with prequalification of the searcher. Although this tactic will most likely drop CTR and therefore drop quality score, the increase in conversion rates should offset the prospect of a higher CPC. However, if consumers can still purchase from your site and the products are similar, you may want to test this out and measure the impact on CTR with that on conversion. The goal should be to maintain an appropriate cost per conversion and ROAS.

Best Practices and Tricks: Ensure ads remain action oriented towards the action that you want the user to take.

  • Ads should relate to search intention.
  • Ads should contain keywords or semantically related words within the ad copy. Increase the “information scent of the ad as much as possible.”
  • Include special offers, if possible, within the copy for differentiation on the page.
  • Use caution with Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI).
    • All keywords and ad copy MUST make sense together to effectively leverage DKI.
    • The most effective and easier place for DKI is the Title
  • Use only Commonly Accepted acronyms or shorthand.
    • Be aware of alternative meanings for acronyms
  • CRM = customer relationship management, crew resource management, certified records manager, and 6 other meanings
  • Use ampersands to increase available characters
  • Use Trademark Symbols
  • Use Specific Numbers for discounts, prices, or rankings
  • Use proper sentence structure, grammar
  • Do not over use punctuation – common reason for ad disapproval
  • Use known Brand names within the copy if possibleInclude keywords into display URL, if appropriate
  • Test, Test, Test
    • Leverage a testing framework to identify elements within the ad copy that you want to test and design an experiment to test each element. With each ad element that you are testing, ensure that all other elements remain consistent to ensure that the only variable in the test is the one you are testing.
    • Ensure that multi-variate tests are supported by sufficient volume to ensure that tests are not drawn out. A/B Testing is usually a more simplistic implementation and faster data collection period.
    • Test ads by rotating evenly in the search engines. Optimizing for clicks will not yield statistically relevant results due to the bias introduced by the skewed distribution of impressions.