Why are businesses afraid to talk sales in their search ads?


I see the same situation quite often. People are really scared to experiment with AdWords ad copy, because they think more “aggressive” message would make their brand look bad.

This is an argument which is completely unnecessary. Each online platform has its own communication style and failing to fit in it can leave you behind the competition. This is why I find it important to show light over some old-fashioned concerns.

The key to the right approach is always to try to think like your customer. When building an ad we must have in mind best practices and what actually makes people click on ads.  Easy, readable content, clear call to action, relevance to the search query are all great staring points.

For example, which ad you think will convert better if the search term is “get iphone 7”?

This one?

Or this one?

Also, can you guess which one has been written by a brand-oriented person?

In fact, I took the second ad copy directly from the website of Apple. What’s wrong with it?

Simple enough – it doesn’t say much. The key with branding message is that it says a lot with very little words and it rarely involves any measurable facts. It’s wishy-washy, it’s creating pictures in your mind, it’s difficult to comprehend, but somehow it stays with you.

You must understand the difference between content you use for a search ad a generic branding message (which could be great when it comes to video or display).

Does the fact that Apple  has a price extension on their ad make the brand look cheap? Or less desirable? What about these words –  “shop”, “delivery”, “pick up”, “trade in”? You might be surprised, but there are business which are really cautions to use such words in their ad copy. In their fear not to sound cheap and salesy in front of their audience, they miss out on great opportunities to grab people’s attention when they are actively looking for a product.

When a user is searching online this indicates strong buying intention. This is the main difference between search engine marketing and any other digital form of marketing. Thinking about your ad copy, you must get into the mind of your user. Would someone looking for a particular phone model  be attracted by a complicated and vague language? Or they are more likely to be interested in practical matters. How much it costs, where to find it, whether there is a delivery service available?

AdWords has a character limit, so you must focus on having your bidding keywords in the titles of the ad. This leads to better quality score. I really doubt that any of the words in the second ad copy example is useful as keyword.

Of course, correct spelling and use of punctuation is important for Google to approve your ad. Full capitalisation is not accepted by Google AdWords. Capitalising each word of the ad copy can increase your click through rate, according to research. More on the ad specs here.

Adding the right extension (See my previous article on Google AdWords extensions) is also key for creating a relevant and clickable ad. Callout extensions particularly are great to just mention a feature of the product or an offer.

As a conclusion, please don’t be shy with your search ads. It’s a tough competition out there (an actual bidding auction!) and being cautious and boring is not taking you further.