Search engines like Google continue to evolve, but the way people absorb and react to advertising copy stays unchanged. Legal marketers who sharpen their basic copywriting skills, can exercise an advantage over their competitors online. Could the latest renovation of AdWords be a chance to connect to the timeless craft of copywriting? Let’s find out…
Google AdWords is now Google Ads
Google has some big changes coming for those of you who use Google Ads (formerly known as “Google AdWords”).
One of the biggest new things is the new ad format. It’s called Responsive Search Ads. According to Google, this format will:
“…let you create an ad that adapts to show more text—and more relevant messages—to your customers. Enter multiple headlines and descriptions when creating a responsive search ad, and over time, Google Ads will automatically test different combinations and learn which combinations perform best. By adapting your ad’s content to more closely match potential customers’ search terms, responsive search ads may improve your campaign’s performance*.”
That’s pretty cool. Now you have THREE headlines to play with and a 90-character description instead of 80. If you can get some ad extensions going, theoretically you could take up the entire above-the-fold area in search results. So, If you’re doing everything right and have a Google My Business listing in the local pack as well as an organic listing, that’s a lot of real estate to occupy, right?
How can legal marketers take advantage of this? Obviously, if you aren’t currently running ads using Google Ads, set up an account and get going. For the rest of us who are past the point of entry, there are many possibilities.
However, I would suggest that even though there’s a new format, and let’s be honest it seems like Google is constantly creating new ways to separate the unsavvy advertiser from their advertising dollars, we can rely on advertising fundamentals to get the most out of the additional lines of text. Because no matter what – no matter how long or short or how many characters you have to work with – writing good ad copy will get the best results.
What is Good Ad Copy?
What’s wrong with just saying, ”I’m a lawyer, call me?” On it’s own, nothing. However, there are going to be many people, particularly in the competitive legal vertical, who are running ads as well, and they probably all say something similar.
You need to draw people’s attention away from them and back to you. And there are time-tested principles and methods you can use to accomplish that.
First, let’s look at the mechanics of advertising, which can be broken down into the following components:
- Aim – What do people want, and how do they ask for it? This is your potential client’s intent. Think of search terms as well as practice area keywords (accident, divorce, personal injury).
- Audience – Demographics – are you speaking to the victim or the victim’s loved one? The language in an advertisement is aimed at converting potential clients. It’s important for legal marketers to create ad copy that resonates with an audience, not live up to the lawyer’s expectations of what an ad should be.
- Action – What action do you want the audience to take? Is this advertisement about “branding,” or is this about “intent”? Brand awareness advertising accesses a different part of your brain. Direct response ad is aimed at intent. Someone needs a thing, and you have the thing they need just a click away!
- Differentiation – There is no “safety in numbers” when it comes to advertising. You have to do something different, but not so different it puts people off. The word and language choices you make in your ads are where this can happen. We’ll get to that next.
The Mechanics of an Ad
Now that we have some “big picture” items out of the way, let’s get down to the actual craftsmanship involved in ad copywriting. It’s import to acknowledge the many different types of ads – everything from video to text to banner to social – but the “big 2” in Google are search and display.
Display ads use images and are typically more “brand” or “item” focused, while search ads do not use images, and can be found above the search results in Google. Therefore these ads are more focused on intent.
We are not going to talk about display ads here, although there is some crossover with regard to writing headlines. So, how do you write compelling, effective search ads? The simple answer is that, as lawyers, on a certain level you get paid to be writers. Play to your strengths – language, composition – and use some of the tips below to help inject your command of language into compelling ad copy.
- Make a list – It takes a lot of ideas and variations. Most will end up in the garbage, but that’s not the point. The point is to write down everything no matter how weird it is.
- Use writing prompts – Things don’t always just pop in to my head. There are plenty of places to get inspiration and ideas from – even competitor’s ads. Phrases like “10 Secrets of …” or incorporating words like “professional, innovative, practical,” are good ways to get the ideas flowing. Your final revision may not contain any of them, and that’s fine.
- Format – This is one of my favorites. Think like Dr. Seuss and make it rhyme, or use an if/then statement for example. Putting some parameters or limitations on what you can do can lead to surprising creative results.
- Framing – What’s the angle here? David versus Goliath, fear of loss, urgency – these are all different approaches that can help you shape the tone and language of an ad.
An effective ad is an critical component to your Google Ads campaign. Regardless of what number of characters or headlines they have, the fundamentals of ad copywriting will help you get the most out of your advertising dollars.