How to Write Effective AdWords Ad Copy

Your ultimate product as a PPC advertiser on the Google Display Network is the ads your customers see. Much of the time, you’re creating text-based ads for those viewers, so it pays to know how to write effective copy.

This piece will discuss the basics of that process – from learning about your own product and business model to determining what your customers really want to see in an ad.

Know Yourself

Above all else, you should know your own company. Know it through and through. You can’t reach your target audience (which we’ll discuss next) without having a firm grasp of the products you create and the services you provide.

Whether you’re an owner of a business or an employee hired to write sales copy, you should ask yourself: What products/services does my business create, and what do I want to accomplish with my ads that relate to those products/services?

Let’s make this more concrete with a real-world example that you can follow throughout this article.

A Coffee Subscription Service

Suppose you distribute whole bean coffee as a subscription service. Suppose some more that you offer six varieties of premium coffee ($25 for 16 oz.) within two subscription tiers (once-a-month and every-three-months). You function as a middleman for local, organic growers in five different countries. You order the beans wholesale, bag the product into individual 16 oz. packages, and send those individual bags to your customers. You only have an online storefront.

That description offers a lot of information, including the type of product, how it’s offered, and how it’s accessed. What you’re left with is answering the question, “Who do we serve?”

When you get to know your audience, you can begin to answer more detailed questions about your business such as, “How do I want my customers to feel toward me?” This will add specificity to the structure of your ads.

Before we move on, take a few minutes to define what your own real-world company offers.

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is just as important as knowing your company.

With our fictional coffee distribution company, we can get to know its audience by asking a few more questions. “Who are the type of people that want a coffee subscription?” and “What are those customers’ goals?” are good places to start.

In this scenario, the types of people that would want a coffee subscription are likely middle- or upper-class and have a discerning palate. They may want to appear sophisticated with their premium drinks. They may also be pressed for time or, even more likely, willing to pay for the convenience of not having to shop for coffee.

Their goals, therefore, are first to obtain a great-tasting cup of joe. They might wish to impress with the image their fancy coffee projects. They probably also want to save time by having a staple of their diets delivered right to their doors.

Your product relates to those goals by continuing to offer a high-quality coffee bean. It will also need to project an image that shows sophistication, which can be accomplished through its packaging. And it will need to be timely in its delivery to keep the product fresh and to remain convenient.

Take some time now to determine the perfect customer for your own product or service. Connect the desires of your customers with the functions of your wares.

All In a Feeling

This is the point where you can swing back around and answer the question, “How do I want my customers to feel about me?”

Our coffee drinkers may want to feel a sense of comfort and professionalism. Those qualities make a good start when creating ads because they embody the actual feel of a hot cup of coffee and the actual experience of receiving a dignified product in a timely manner.

Take a few minutes to consider how your customers want to feel about your own brand.

Tailor Your Ads to Fit That Audience

Now that you’ve gone through all the preliminary steps, you can begin writing ads that are specific in their reach. Your ads will demonstrate knowledge of your product (“Know Yourself”) and will address your perfect audience (“Know Your Audience”) with the proper tone (“All In a Feeling”).

Be Specific

AdWords ads follow a format of two 30-character headlines and one 80-character description. To fit in those confines, you can’t ramble. Be specific by getting to the point regarding what your customers want.

You can address that in a general manner:

Headlines: Coffee Subscription Service – Delivered to Your Doorstep Description: Premium, Organic Beans. Local Growers. Order Your Monthly Delivery Today.

Offer prices and promotions:

Headlines: Coffee Subscription Service – 50% Off Your First Month Description: Support Local Growers. Get Premium, Organic Beans. Monthly/Quarterly Delivery.

Address local readers:

Headlines: Coffee Subscription Service – Now Available in Dallas Description: Get $10 Off Your First Purchase! Order Quick, Fresh Monthly/Quarterly Delivery.

Although those ads address different aspects of the product, they all talk to the target audience. They emphasize the facts about the product and its promotions (subscription and $10 off) in order to connect to customers’ hearts (supporting local growers and emphasizing the timely delivery of the beans).

In all cases, they include a call to action, such as urging readers to support local growers or order their first subscription today.

You also should strive to remain consistent and readable in your ads. The examples above primarily use full sentences in their descriptions, and they’re all grammatically consistent. You have options, for instance, when it comes to capitalizing the words in your descriptions or using certain styles of punctuation. Don’t be afraid to throw in an exclamation point or an ampersand; just be sure that your ads follow your mission.

In this situation, professionalism is a key element to the coffee company’s connection with its audience, so the use of full sentences and (mostly) periods instead of exclamation points helps project that image.


Notice also that the first headline in each of the three sample ads is the same – “Coffee Subscription Service.” If you were to run these three ads at the same time, some would perform better than others.

This is when you can look at the better ads to see what needs to be changed in the worse ads. The use of a consistent headline element allows you to narrow down the changes you should make. As the coffee subscription company, your new ad that replaces the poor performer should keep “Coffee Subscription Service” as its first headline.

If, for instance, the “prices and promotions” ad above isn’t doing as well as the “general” ad, you may want to consider adding the line, “Delivered to Your Doorstep” because it could be part of the winning formula. But where do you put it? Well, if you want to keep the second headline “50% Off…” to remain dedicated to that promotion, look to your description.

Changing the description to read, “Support Local Growers. Get Premium, Organic Beans. Delivered to Your Doorstep.” could work well. In future inspection of your campaigns, you would learn whether or not that change improved the performance of your promotion.

If it didn’t, it could be time to alter more aspects of the ad. Perhaps the “Coffee Subscription Service” headline isn’t a good fit with promotional deals. Or maybe the “50% off” deal should be increased and then reflected in your campaigns.

Using a consistent headline or description is a great way to narrow down which parts of you ads work well and which don’t. You may even want to consider running the same first headline and description, while changing only the second headline, when you begin a new campaign. Then you know which phrase in your second headline works the best. Push forward with that top phrase.

Keywords and Uniqueness

When you’re writing initial ads and making iterative changes, remember to tell your audience why you’re unique.

If you deliver coffee, is your delivery quicker than the competition? You could highlight 2-day delivery or an on-time delivery rate of 99%.

You should also be certain to use your keywords effectively in your ad copy. In the examples discussed here, you could easily see phrases like “coffee subscription,” “organic beans,” and “local growers” take a prominent role in the ads.

When customers search in Google for those phrases, they probably want to find coffee products. However, the coffee subscription brand could find out that searches for “local growers” typically come from people wanting locally-grown plants. That keyphrase would, of course, be a dead end. No amount of jazz in the ad itself will make those plant seekers jump toward the coffee.

You may find yourself in a similar situation. Keywords and phrases don’t always work as planned. Don’t be afraid to ditch them if necessary.


In short, ask yourself the following series of questions:

  1. What do I offer (product or service)?
  2. What do I want to accomplish with my ads (purchase a product or visit my website)?
  3. Who wants to follow that path (coffee drinkers or gardeners? local or international customers?)?

Build ads from that information. Iterate your process to inform future ad copy, sifting through keywords and tactics as you go.

Finally, if you ever feel lost in the woods, Atria has a dedicated team here to help with the entire process. Pick up the phone to discuss your needs with our friendly, knowledgeable staff.