BUSINESS

March 31, 2022

Ross Henderson

Ross is an executive-level business analyst and copywriter.

Five Tips for Writing Short-Form Ad Copy

When it comes to marketing writing, there are two distinct categories: long-form and short-form. We all know long-form well: blog articles, white papers, and eBooks are all examples. Typically, brands create long-form pieces of copy to improve their SEO rankings, build thought leadership, and provide value to their target audience. It’s a critical element of marketing, and it’s one that all brands should embrace. 

Short-form copy, on the other hand, is pretty different. It’s much more concise, and is used for various types of advertising: be that Google Ads, social media ads, or even print ads. The goal of short-form copy is to grab the reader’s attention, convey a message in as few words as possible, and ultimately encourage the reader to take some desired action.

Writing effective short-form copy demands a different approach to long-form content. The entire structure of the writing is different, and it’s important for writers, marketers, and those hiring them to understand exactly what to look for in short-form ad copy. 

Today, we’ll share five actionable tips that will help you to write short-form ad copy that converts at a higher rate. They are:

  • Map the customer journey
  • Incorporate a hook
  • Focus on benefits and outcomes over product features
  • Include action-driven Calls to Action (CTAs)
  • Continually test and refine

Let’s explore each of these five tips in more detail. 

1. Map the Customer Journey

Short-form copy plays an important role at various stages of the customer journey, but its role differs slightly at each stage. It’s important you understand the unique characteristics of each stage. 

One of the most common ways to think about customer journeys is as a funnel. At the top of the funnel, you have many customers who know little about your business. Over time, customers progress to the bottom of your funnel as they learn more about your products and services. Depending on your business, progression to the funnel could take a few minutes or a few months.

Consider how to best write for your customer touchpoints at each stage. 

At the very top of the funnel, the short-form copy in your advertising may be many prospects’ first introduction to your business. Your ad copy should reflect that: concisely explaining what you do and why it matters to your customers. At this stage, all you have to do is pique your prospects’ interest enough to make them click your ad. 

Later in the funnel, it's likely that the prospect is close to making a decision. By this stage, they’ve already researched you and your competitors, and understand the different solutions available to them. It’s the purpose of your short-form ad copy to differentiate your offering. Create short-form copy that concisely outlines the unique benefits your business offers, or share a compelling special offer to drive action. 

Now we should note this is a simple illustration. In reality, there are various stages between the top and the bottom of the funnel, with different writing strategies for each. But the core principle remains: think deeply about your customer journey, and write copy based on what you know about your customers’ mindset, motivations, and education at each stage.

2. Incorporate a Hook

When you actually start writing your ad copy, it’s easy to default to a couple of approaches: including lots of keywords, or focusing solely on the features of your product and service. While both of these are important, they’re far from the only elements you should include in your ads. 

Include a meaningful hook in your copy. What is a hook? A hook is a concept that immediately captures the attention of your audience. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Want to increase marketing ROI by 237%? Try SaaSy now
  • The average cybersecurity data breach costs $4.2m – protect your business now 

An effective hook is almost impossible for a prospect to ignore. It practically reaches out of the computer screen, grabs their hand, and makes them click on your ad. There are a few different ways to write hooks: you can offer value, induce fear, provide education, and more. Make sure your hook is specific, and don’t be afraid to play on emotion. 

3. Focus on Benefits and Outcomes Over Product Features

Product features are an easy barometer. It’s simple to compare your own feature set to that of a competitor and surmise that because you have more, or superior, features, you represent the best solution for potential customers. 

Here’s the issue with that: customers don’t think that way.

Instead, focus on the benefits of your product or service, and the outcomes that it delivers for users. By reading your ad copy, customers should get a clear picture of how their life will improve after buying your product or service. 

When outlining these benefits, be as specific as possible. Does your product save customers money? Put a dollar figure on it. Do you help your customers become more efficient? Tell them how many hours you’ll save them. 

Frame the benefits of your product or service exclusively in terms that are meaningful to your customers. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your customers quickly understand the value of your product or service, and are primed to take action.

4. Include Action-Driven CTAs

Calls To Action, or CTAs, often make or break the success of short-form ads. A CTA tells your customers what to do next: how to start a free trial, sign up for an email list, or visit your store. The CTA of your ad copy is perhaps one of the biggest determinants of how it will convert, and it’s crucial you nail it. 

Many marketers opt for simple CTAs, like “Sign Up” or “Download Now”. But research has proven this is not the best approach. Instead, be specific, use action-driven words, and incorporate product benefits into your CTAs. 

Refining your CTAs is one of the best ways to increase the conversion rate of your short-form ad copy. Instead of having a CTA that simply says “Buy Now”, try one that says “Buy Now for 50% Off”; you might be surprised at the results.  

We do this at Hire a Writer. If you’re interested in working with us, your first step is normally to book a short introductory meeting. A lot of businesses would have a pretty standard “Contact Us” button, but our homepage CTA looks like this:

This CTA is specific, focuses on the benefits, and gets bonus points for including a little humor. For prospects who come to our website, it’s easy to understand what we offer (copywriting), the benefits we deliver (making your life easier), and how you get it (by jumping on a call with Joy). 

Related: Five Ways to Write a Good CTA

5. Continually Test and Refine

Short-form ad copy is both an art and a science. Of course, it’s important to be creative, use clever language and phrasing, and deeply understand your customers. But it’s also important to run all kinds of rigorous experiments. 

Testing your short-form ad copy is a pretty straightforward process. When you launch a new ad set or campaign, write several different versions of your ad copy, and then track their performance to see which delivers the best results. Pretty much every advertising platform where you could display a short-form ad will provide you with metrics on this.  Pay particular attention to metrics like Click Through Rate (CTR) and Conversion Rate (CVR), and focus on nudging them gradually upwards by writing better-performing copy. 

You can run experiments on all kinds of concepts, from trying out different hooks to testing new CTAs. As you run these tests, you’ll quickly learn which concepts resonate the most with your customers. Iterate on them again and double down on the most successful concepts. By doing so, you’re committing to constantly improving the efficacy of your advertising, getting more out of your marketing budget, and building closer relationships with your target customers. 

Need Help Writing Short Form Ad Copy?

Like many things, writing successful short form advertising copy demands nuance, experience, and expertise. Working with a team of proven copywriters can give your business access to that. 

The team at Hire A Writer is here to help. To learn more about improving short form ad copy in your business, schedule a call today.

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