The Concise Guide to Concise Ad Copy

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We live in a world filled with increasing amounts of content and advertising messages. And when it comes to pay per click (PPC) advertising, companies are competing for a ever-shrinking inventory of attention from online users. Messages must be delivered efficiently so that consumers can receive and process it before moving on—and enough that they might actually stop and take action.

So no matter what other strategies you employ in your PPC advertising, one of the most important to master as a copywriter is how to be concise.

Concise Copywriting…

  • presents your message with clarity
  • keeps your audience interested
  • delivers your unique selling proposition
  • offers an obvious call to action

In today’s concise guide to concise ad copy, we’ll list our favorite best practices for cutting characters and improving advertising content performance—in under 900 words!

Why Does It Matter?

Concise copy is more than just an ancient advertising dictum. Internet users prefer shorter copy almost universally. According to a Nielson Norman Group’s classic readability study:

“A study of five different writing styles found that a sample Web site scored 58% higher in measured usability when it was written concisely…”

Your potential customers want to find exactly what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. If you can use fewer words, you can create ads that scoff at character counts and still capture leads.

Write for Them, Not for You

When you’ve been working in an industry for a long time, it can become second nature to start rolling jargon, buzzwords, or industry acronyms off your tongue as if everyone around you will understand them. Most of the time, this strategy will earn you nothing more than a customer clicking the “Back” button.

Take for example this unique selling proposition that is similar to ones we’ve seen around the web for B2B companies:

Considered by many in the tech space as one of the most promising firms of the 21st century, ABC Metrics is revolutionizing the way its clients generate customer-brand synergies through UX optimization. Our advanced API and MVT methods of real-time customer interaction sets us apart from our competitors by altering the paradigm of consumer engagement with the brand and ultimately improving KPIs.

We’ve all seen this kind of writing. Usually if someone throws in the word “synergies” or “paradigm” you should duck and cover. But sometimes it’s not even that obvious. If you as a target consumer are reading ad copy that doesn’t make sense to you immediately, then they might as well be writing about paradigms.

If you’re paying attention to what will resonate with your audience, it should be easy to clean up that unique selling proposition to be more concise and clear. Without all the buzzwords and industry acronyms, it might look something like this:

At ABC Metrics, we help companies enhance the user experience of their websites. Focusing on goals and metrics that are relevant to your business, our system shows you how customers navigate and interact with your site. You get real, relevant data to help you optimize your site for the best online response.

Remember the Basics

Brush up on your general writing skills! Do a search for “concise writing” and you’ll find plenty of useful articles—like this one, or maybe this one—that outline general strategies to make your copy brief and readable. Here are a few common culprits to look out for and eliminate…

  • Superfluous phrases
  • Clichés and metaphors
  • Euphemisms
  • Indirect sentences
  • Run-on sentences

Strengths, and Nothing Else

Focus on your strengths, period. Maybe your company has the lowest prices or the best quality customer service. But do you really need to mention that all your employees use iMacs and have the coolest office space? Probably not, unless that’s somehow a competitive advantage. Stick to the strengths that are relevant to your customer base, and consider cutting everything else out.

Industry “Best Words”

Chances are, your industry has a few best practices for writing ad copy. For example, a recent study of the financial services industry found that including “safe” in an ad’s title boosted performance by 80 percent, while including “save” decreased performance by 86 percent. Discover what your industry “best words” are and apply this to your PPC advertising when appropriate.

Find Synonyms

Synonyms of commonly misunderstood or lengthy words can drastically improve the performance of your ad copy, especially online where we also see that synonyms as keywords help make better-performing ads. If you find yourself using a term with 17 syllables, grab a thesaurus and find words with the same meaning but that are easier to digest. There are even specialized tools that can help you cut characters without sacrificing meaning.

When All Else Fails, Rank and Cut

If you need to reduce copy for your ad or landing page, but can’t decide what else to cut, try ranking rank your points by importance and relevancy. Whatever falls last on the list might be the first thing to axe. And remember, you don’t have to sell every competitive advantage in your ad—it can be helpful to diversity your campaigns and segment your strengths for different audiences or selling stages.

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