Actionable tips, community conversations, and marketing inspiration.

Ad Copy: 5 Data-Driven Best Practices

Joris Korbee

Sr. Client Insights Analyst @ AdRoll

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2020 is going to be the year when digital advertising finally accounts for half of the world’s advertising spend. For brands competing on ad networks, social media, and search platforms, there's more competition than ever before and one of the most powerful differentiators at their disposal is copywriting.

A recent analysis of ad copy across AdRoll’s massive dataset has uncovered several copywriting tricks that can boost ad performance. Here’s a rundown of the top data-driven copywriting tactics that you should start using right now.

For more on why data-driven marketing is so important for your business:

Ad Copy Tip #1: The Landscape Is Swinging Rapidly

In the past month, consumer behavior has changed drastically, and its impact on industries and verticals is still varied and all over the place.

Let’s take travel, for example. Travel-related advertising took a huge dip, both in terms of views and click-throughs. However, in the last month, the “BOOK NOW” call to action has seen a 50% increase in CTRs.

This increase, however, hasn’t translated to top-of-funnel campaigns. Customers are clicking more when they have a need, but they may still not quite be in the mood for casual browsing of travel deals and offers.

Expect this kind of ambiguity to remain the norm for a while. Review copy and call-to-actions (CTAs) regularly to make sure they work, and look for rapid swings in consumer demand as everyone figures out their place in a post-pandemic world. Consistently A/B testing copy is a gold standard when it comes to advertising because there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creatives. However, the shifting landscape is making this practice more important than ever. Be on the lookout for the next big trend rather than optimizing for the last big trend.

Ad Copy Tip #2: Mention Promotions in Ad Headlines

Consumers love discounts and special offers. For top-of-the-funnel brand awareness campaigns, mentioning a promotion in the ad headline saw a 75% higher click-through rate (CTR) than if it was mentioned further down in the ad. For new customers, or those just discovering a brand, a powerful way to capture their attention is by highlighting the promotion in the headline where it’s most visible, rather than risking it getting lost in the ad text.

This data is validated by studies that show consumers can’t get enough of promos, sales, and special deals. According to the National Retail Federation, three of every four consumers say that sales and promotions are very or extremely important to them. In another study by BIA/Kelsey, small businesses estimated that 17.7% of their annual customer acquisition would come from sales and special promotions.

For everything you need to know about creating discounts and promotions:

Ad Copy Tip #3: Make CTAs Specific and Actionable

In the AdRoll data, the most common CTA used by advertisers overall is “Learn more.” The second most common CTA is “Shop now.” However, in terms of effectiveness, the results are exactly the opposite.

Analysis shows that people are twice as likely to click on an ad if the CTA says “Shop now” compared to “Learn More.” Advertisers should seriously consider switching to actionable, specific, and purpose-driven CTAs, rather than using vague and fuzzy ones.

While it varies for different industries and platforms, average CTRs are overall fairly low, ranging from 3.17% on Google’s search network, 1.11% for Facebook newsfeed ads, and just 0.46% on Google’s display network. A smart tweak on a CTA can raise these CTRs by a significant percentage, and that can represent a substantial increase in website visitors and potential customers. 

Ad Copy Tip #4: Actionable CTAs Are Even More Powerful in Retargeting Ads

Users who are being retargeted have already had some interaction with the brand, and they may just need a small push to convince them to convert. The use of actionable, purposeful CTAs is even more effective in retargeting than in upper-funnel campaigns. 

According to AdRoll data, the “Shop now” CTA more than doubles the click-through rates compared to “Learn more” in retargeting ads. And advertisers are catching on. “Shop now” is the most used CTA for retargeting campaigns on the AdRoll platform at the moment.

When only 2% of website visitors convert during their first visit, retargeting is essential to making probability work in a brand’s favor. That’s probably why almost 50% of brands are allocating more of their budgets to retargeting.

For more on how to test your CTAs:

Ad Copy Tip #5: Don’t Shy Away From Including Prices

According to an Accenture survey, 66% of consumers think that transparency is one of the most attractive qualities in a brand. What’s more, transparency builds trust, and 81% of consumers say they must be able to trust brands they buy from

Some advertisers might think that leaving out prices from ads will pique readers’ interest, tempting them to click and find out. The data, however, clearly disagrees. On the AdRoll platform, the average CTR is 10% to 15% higher when the price of the product or offer is mentioned in the ad text. 

For brand awareness campaigns, the effect is even stronger. CTRs are up to 30% higher when prices are displayed in ad text for upper-funnel campaigns. 

Rather than turning people off, prices in ads are a drawcard. It shows that the brand trusts its prices and trusts that the consumer will agree with the value of the product or offer. When brands have nothing to hide, consumer attention, and engagement deepens. It also helps brands draw better-qualified leads, allowing potential customers to filter themselves out if the prices don’t match their budget, and leading to stronger results down-funnel.

For more on how to create a data-driven pricing strategy:

The Proof Is in the Data

Even minor adjustments to ad copy can have a big influence on click-through rates and conversions. A key advantage of digital advertising is the ability to access current user data and analyze which copy gets the best results. These powerful data-driven insights can then be used to optimize ad campaigns, even ones that are running right now, so advertisers can move fast to make the most of their ad spend. 

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