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How to Write a Text Ad that Pulls Like Crazy

Writing powerful, profit-making ads is an acquired skill, and some would say, an art form. Here are some tips to get it right.

  • Write to persuade. Your ad must convince the viewer that your landing page (a specific page on your site) will provide a solution or answer a question posed by the ad:

    1. Attract attention with an intriguing headline. It must be relevant to the page keyword and catchy.

    2. In the first line of the ad, convey your most powerful benefit.

    3. In the second line of the ad, describe your most powerful feature. Your feature should be a specifically match your previously stated benefit.

    [Examples follow]

  • Deliver on what your ad promises. Once your visitors have arrived, the landing page must contain the expected content . . . if it doesn't, you'll lose conversions. Don't send traffic to your home page; send it to a landing page that specifically answers the question or solves the problem referred to in the ad.

    Custom landing pages are so important for pay-per-click advertising because you are creating consistency from keyword > ad > landing page. You'll also get a search engine boost because of this consistency. Many campaigns fall short due to an overly general landing page which does not meet the customer's expectations of relevancy. Remember, one click and *poof*, they are gone!

    Your page design should be clear, uncluttered, and easy to scan. Important information and a call to action should be prominently positioned and obvious. And it should be above the page “fold” of the page so your users don't have to scroll down. Bottom line: don't confuse your visitors. Provide what they expect from your ad.

    [“Above the fold” is what you see in your browser when you first arrive at a page, without scrolling down.]

    [A “call to action” is what you want your visitors to do: buy now online, sign-up for a newsletter, call for more information, etc. ]

  • Write precisely to your target audience. Break your keywords into thematically similar groups and then write ads for those groups. This makes it much easier to organize your ad-writing and to develop specific content (landing pages) which will probably be shared by groups of keywords.

  • Split-test your ad copy and layout. (Also known as A / B testing). Make one change to see how it effects your click-through rate and conversion rate. This is an ongoing process. For example, run two ads with different headlines for a short while, then choose the headline that pulls better. Then refine it again. The Japanese call this “kaizen”—continuous incremental improvement.

    Split-testing will add value to your campaign, because some ad networks reward ads with high click-throughs rate with better positions. So you'll get better ad placement for the same bid. Ads formatted in Sentence Case seem to pull better than those formatted in lower case. Another thing to test!

  • Build your ad around carefully selected keywords. Choose specific long-tail keywords over general keywords. At the end of the day, they will convert better and cost less. Underscore your offer by using keywords in your filenames too, like this: (Not all ad networks display the filename)

  • Ad campaigns can really eat up your budget. You MUST track which individual keywords and ad layouts are profitable and which are not. You can typically set a daily budget as downside protection, but you still want to track at least once a week to weed out poor performers, freeing up more money for good performers.

    And if you are trying out a new business idea or page layout to figure what works best, just run your ads for a day and see what happens.

    Your cost-per-conversion could eat up all of your profits, OR it could be a small, sustainable fraction. Tracking is the only way to know.

    Read more about the benefits and drawbacks of paid advertising.

Let's critique three sample Google text ads to see what a difference these concepts make. This search is for "vitamins"

ad   ad   ad

What's wrong with this ad? Just about everything. No one cares if the site is "official", or that the merchant has been online since 1997. There is no headline, no benefit statement, no market specificity, and really, nothing that appeals to the reader's interests at all.

To make things worse, the advertiser has chosen the generic keyword "vitamins" at great expense. On Yahoo Search (Overture), "vitamins" costs an average of $1.08 per click for the top-three positions, ten times as much as the "Facts About Omega-3" ad to the right.

Clicking on this vague ad takes you to the company's home page, instead of a where it should, a specific solution page.

This ad is a costly dud.


This is an improvement. The keyword "Omega-3" breaks this ad out of the "me too" pattern of vitamin ads, yet the headline also includes "vitamins", which was the original search. Omega-3 is far more specific than "vitamins" and will only attract certain reader's. But as an advertiser, that's just what you want.

An unusual pitch is made for various age groups and is capped off with a price and shipping benefit. The link takes you directly to an order page at an eBay store. This ad would read a little better if it was formatted in Sentence Case. Overall, not bad!


The best of the batch. Here's why: "Omega-3" is a known keyword with good traffic, yet not as generic as many others such as "vitamins". With so many unsubstantiated claims circulating, getting at the "Facts" or the "Truth" is a real desire. "Pure" suggests that other Omega-3 products may not be pure; this one is.

An immediate emotional benefit is stated, "Feel Great Again!". Isn't that the real reason people take vitamins and supplements?

That statement is affirmed with "Natures' Most Powerful Supplement" . . . an unproven feature that provokes interest and is worthy of initial belief.

The Free Guide offers something the reader is likely to want: free facts demonstrating why this product is "Nature's Most Powerful Supplement".

The URL (link text in green) underscores the specificity of the ad by including the keywords "vitamins" and "omega-3." This is just the display URL (not the actual link), but experienced web users will look at it for clues.

When the reader clicks-through on this ad, they find a landing page dedicated to Omega-3 with the free guide sign-up form in an obvious place. The site owner captures the information and the dialog begins. Or, the visitor places an order and is automatically added to the mailing list.

We have a winner!