6 PPC Ad Copy Formulas for Highly Clickable Ads

Want to know one of the best secrets for improving the results of PPC marketing?

It’s to test ad copy.

Not just one time, either. PPC jockeys who run multi-million dollar campaigns will test dozens, even hundreds of different versions of ad copy. They will steal phrases and sometimes entire ads from their competitors. And they never stop. There’s always something else to test.

While that’s a proven way to get dramatically better results from PPC, if you’re managing PPC  accounts for clients, you may be responsible for 100 accounts or more. If each of those accounts has even two campaigns, and each of those campaigns has even ten adgroups…that’s 2,000 ads. If you split-test each ad even once, and that’s 4,000 ads to manage.

When you’re working with numbers like that, you have to simplify everything you can. Automation can help, of course. And having a good ad management system can save you hours, even days of work. But at the end of the day, somebody still needs to write those ads.

To make your job a little easier (and to help you through the very long slog of writing 4,000 ads!), we’ve come up with these six PPC ad formulas. Keep these formulas close by as you’re writing. Or even consider making yourself a spreadsheet that can concatenate phrases to make your job even easier.

Either way, you can write 4,000 ads. Or even 40,000 ads. You just need a few great PPC ad copy formulas.

1. The Keyword Question

Headline 1: [Keyword]?
Headline 2: Don’t Go Anywhere Else.
Headline 3: Our [Keyword] Experts Can Help.

Display path URL/[Keyword] Description 1:  [X] years experience gained from helping [X] customers in [Town Name / Area] Description 2: [Benefit 1]. [Benefit 2]. [Call to Action].

Here’s how this would look in the Google Search Ads setup:

2. The Landing Page Mirror

Headline 1: [Headline from Your Landing Page] |
Headline 2: [Subtitle Part 1 from Your Landing Page] |
Headline 3: [Subtitle Part 2 from Your Landing Page]

Display path URL/[Keyword] Description 1:  [First sentence from your landing page].
Description 2: [The Call To Action from Your Landing Page].

Here’s an old (but still relevant) example of this in action. InfoUSA took the keyword from the headline of their ad and put it in the headline of their landing page.

The result was… a 144% increase in conversion rate. Nyce!

This works because of the repetition. You as the marketer may feel like the ads and landing pages and confirmation pages are just repeating themselves… but to a first-time user, all that repetition is reassuring. It helps people know
they’re in the right place and getting what the ad they first clicked on promised.

3. The Statistic

Headline 1: [Surprising Statistic] Headline 2: Are You At Risk? (If statistic was negative) or It Could Be You (If statistic was positive)
Headline 3: [Your Product/Service Name] Can Help.

Display path URL/[Keyword] Description 1:  [Benefit or Features Related to Statistic].
Description 2: [Short Benefit or Features Related to Statistic]. [Call To Action].

The secret to making The Statistic work is to find a show-stopper of a statistic. But if you’ve got the right statistic, this formula can work well.

One wee thing… because fear is such a powerful motivator, try using a strongly negative statistic if you can’t make this formula work with a more positive stat. Hate to be a downer about this, but fear-driven ads often get better click-through rates than more positive ads.

4. The Snitch

Headline 1: [Your Competitor’s Headline] Headline 2: [Another Competitor’s Headline] Headline 3: [Another Competitor’s Headline]

Display path URL/[Keyword] Description 1:  [Sections of Competitor’s Descriptions].
Description 2: [More Sections of Competitor’s Descriptions].

It can be very interesting to see how your competitors’ ads perform. Unfortunately, Google’s reviewers may not let you lift an entire ad for your own use. But they will let you use sections of your competitors’ ads.

If you aren’t using competitive research and competitive testing for your ad copy, this can be a game-changer. Being able to drop in phrases or headlines your competitors are using can lift response rates quite a lot.

So go ahead… the next time you can’t think of anything to write, start a few A/B split-tests with your existing copy, plus a new ad that uses your existing copy with one phrase from your competitor’s ad swapped out.

5. The Local

Headline 1: [Keyword] + [Location/City] Headline 2: [Features] Headline 3: [Location/City] & Surrounding Areas.

Display path URL/[Location] Description 1:  We understand [Statename] [Condition Related to Your Business].
Description 2: [Offer] for [Location/City] residents.

Here’s an example of this. It’s a variation, but it’s smart to vary these formulas. Use them to save time but don’t make all your ads look and sound the same.

Note the copy in Description line 2 above. You can offer these residents the same thing that everyone else gets, you’re just making them feel a little extra special by mentioning their location again.

This is the same psychological play hot dog vendors in New York City have been using for generations. When someone asks them how much for their hot dog, the vendor says, “For you?” And voila: The customer feels special. The hot dog costs the same no matter who’s buying it. But the exchange is smart salesmanship.

Speaking of which… let’s talk about the Exclusive.

6. The Exclusive

Headline 1: For [What Your Target Audience Calls Themselves] Only:
Headline 2: [Your Product / Service Name] Headline 3: [Benefits]. [Benefits].

Display path URL/[What Your Target Audience Calls Themselves] Description 1:  [Keyword] by /[What Your Target Audience Calls Themselves] for /[What Your Target Audience Calls Themselves].
Description 2: We are [Keyword] Experts. [Call to Action].

The Exclusive leverages one of the most reliable psychological impulses of humankind: We want to feel special. It works well for service businesses or retailers that have a lot of expertise. Like “By Musicians, For Musicians.” Or “By gardeners, for gardeners.”

PPC Ad Copy Formulas are a Starting Place

Of course, don’t use PPC ad formulas exclusively. It’s good to mix things up now and again. If nothing else, consider dropping a few super-interesting words into your PPC ads sometimes. There’s a great old copywriting book called Words that Sell: More than 6000 Entries to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas. It has enough power words to keep any PPC copywriter going for years, even if they’re writing 4,000 ads at a time.

1. UnSplash, Dan Dimmock
2 & 6. Screenshot taken by the author, December 2019.
3-5. Marketing Experiments.




Pam Neely

Pam Neely

Pam Neely has been in digital marketing for 20 years. She's a serial entrepreneur and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award and a Hermes Creative Award for blogging. She has a Master's Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.

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