How to write engaging advertising copy

 Ink Stained Wretches - Jeff Eaton

Ink Stained Wretches – Jeff Eaton

Consider the best format and platform for your ad
Before you write anything, consider what format and platform is right for your advertisement.

Depending on what you decide, you can tailor your advert content to ensure it is fit for purpose, and that it engages your audience in the way you intend it to. You can do this by considering your tone of voice, and importantly, reviewing the messaging, length and detail of copy content you are producing.


Long or short copy
The length of your copy will be dictated by the type of advertisement you are writing. Much is dependent on your product or service, the target market you are trying to reach, and many other factors that will dictate what copy length is most effective. If your goal for example, is to secure an email address, your content can be much snappier than if you are using the advertisement as a broader sales and marketing piece.

Whether it’s long or short copy, always make sure you cut any unnecessary detail and keep the intended outcome in mind. Your copy should just be long enough to meet your needs, but no longer.


Keep it clear
In advertising, understanding how to capture someone’s attention with a few words only, is hugely valuable.

Whether print or digital, and regardless of the output or platform, your copy content needs to clear and easy to interpret. In poster advertising for instance, copy needs to work very hard due to the limited window you’ll have to draw people in, so the messaging should be concise, well considered and should always include a very clear call to action.

Social media also has its own rules, let’s consider Facebook for a minute. Facebook is such a noisy and visual landscape with a huge array of different information for the user to absorb. Consider your own feed.  Posts from groups, pictures of friends, friends’ holidays, their kids, any amount of food, plus of course, the inevitable skateboarding puppy …. need I go on?! Your advert needs to stand out in this information overload. Always make sure if you’re reaching the user via their feed on any social media platform not to develop any messaging that requires too much thought. Make it really clear from your content which problem you are solving – there is nothing more frustrating for the user than finding themselves somewhere they didn’t expect to be!

Facebook also has very clear guidelines about text to image rule; text cannot take up more than 20% of the image. Similarly, if you’re advertising on Twitter, you are also limited to a certain amount of characters, as you do on Google AdWords.

So, for social media advertising, So, keep it concise, consider the 20% rule, and don’t be afraid of broken sentences, short sentences are much easier to read.


Context is king
It’s important to think about the context your advertisement will be viewed in. An advertisement in your local free paper, for example, may include a little more background on your business, to set it in context. If you are advertising in a trade publication on the other hand, you could include less introduction to your business area, and here you could include content that was a little more thought provoking, more reflective of your unique USP, or a tag line.

Advertising on social media however, isn’t the place to try and reiterate your branding, promote your mission statement or repeat the name of your product or service. There’s a huge temptation in advertising to over-explain, but that’s a quick route to losing your audiences’ attention on these busy platforms. Focus instead on getting the user to click, they can learn a little more about your brand later.

Also, regardless of whether you’re developing short or longer copy always keep the problem/solution you’re solving in mind. Focusing on telling one story only is a useful trick,  to avoid including any periphery or distracting detail.


Talk to your audience
As with any marketing; time taken researching the demographic you’re trying to reach is time well spent. The more intimately you know them and their needs, the easier the content will be to write. Think about what their biggest problem is and how you can solve it, most importantly, think about what makes your audience happy.

The more specific your audience is, the easier this will be. For example, if you’re targeting men of 18-40, you have a huge demographic to consider when developing any content to engage them. If, however, you’re taking to men between 18-25, it’s a much more manageable group to understand and to hone your writing skills for. Often, the larger the demographic you are trying to reach, the longer the copy needs to be. The smaller the intended group, the shorter the copy can be.

Questions are a useful way to frame your content. On social media particularly, this trick can be helpful. For example; “Looking for a new kitchen?” “Struggling to find a dog-friendly holiday?” are far more targeted and immediate, than. “Heritage Kitchens have been building kitchens since 1982” or  “Our holiday cottages come fully equipped with everything you need for a perfect holiday for you and your dog”.


Aim for an emotional response
Consumers engage more readily when they have an emotional response to a product or service. This is how brand loyalty works, but it’s relevant when developing advertising copy. Your advertisement content should be crafted in such a way that it appeals directly to your audience, and that they have an emotional response to your product or service. This is more straight forward in some industries, such as healthcare or personal finance for instance, where there is a very clear correlation between the needs of the audience and the product or service offered, ie; the need to develop a healthier lifestyle, or advice on a mortgage or savings.

It is much more difficult where the offer/need is less clear cut.  Being able to put yourself into the mindset of your consumer and understand why they need your product or service, and the emotions they might be feeling –  will make it much easier to write content that will appeal to them.


Editing and a clear call to action
Check again that your content is concise, and you have removed any peripheral information and unnecessary words. Keep at the forefront of your mind the limited time your audience will have to read.

Always finish with a clear call to action. If you’re driving people to your website with a url on a non-digital output, (ie it isn’t a link) make sure the url isn’t too lengthy, it needs to be easy for people to remember or type into their browser. If your advertisement is on a digital platform, a live link works well, but it can be helpful to spell things out for clarity: “Click here to sign up”.


Lastly, go back to your headline still works, is engaging and reflects the content of your piece.


If you’d like any more information, or need help developing advertising or other marketing content for your business, please get in touch.