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Chapter 4. Copywriting Tips to Improve Y... > Seven Ways to Attract Buyers, Not Br...

Seven Ways to Attract Buyers, Not Browsers

Whereas in traditional advertising you pay for the number of people who see your ad, a majority of search engines currently sell clicks. It seems closer to a performance-based ad model because you're paying to get shoppers into your store, but watch out. Visitors who don't buy anything drain your ad budget. Fortunately, you can prequalify them somewhat by writing ad listings that grab their attention, plus describe what they'll find on your site. Use your ad listings to invite shoppers to buy, not just take a look around.

1. Appeal to Your Target Market

Your ad listing copy starts as a version of your mission statement…with a twist. Address your target audience in each ad listing. For instance, the way you address men and women could differ. Let's say your software saves customers time doing computer data entry, so instead, they can play golf or relax at a day spa with friends. Just by these two activities—golf versus spa—you can assume which appeals more to men than women. I realize that I'm stereotyping here, but my point is to create messages that consider the specific needs and wants of your target audience. This draws the “right”people to your ad. You can write a different ad listing for each keyword. Or, to save time, one ad listing can be used for a group of keywords associated with each product or service you promote. It's certainly easier to evaluate groups of terms than individual ones if your keyword universe contains thousands of them. You can always micromanage your campaigns at a per-listing level when you're ready.

2. State a Benefit or Solution

Review the benefits and solutions you outlined in Chapter 3, “Choosing Keywords for Maximum Performance.” Which of these are the strongest reasons why a prospect should become your customer?

Simple reasons are the most compelling: You save customers time and money. Or, you help them generate more revenue. These are not the only influencing factors, but they're pretty high on most people's priority list.

GEICO Direct hits a home run with their ad on MSN. In Figure 4.1, GEICO's ad is located to the right of the other ads (which already gives it a visual advantage). Look at the ad copy. “Save up to 15% on your car insurance.” Bam! That's a quantifiable benefit, isn't it? Compare this listing to the other Featured Sites listings. The first words in the #1 advertiser's listing are “Car insurance coverage from a quality company.” Does this measure up to GEICO's offer? Nope. The next two advertisers promote their “free quote” or “compare rates” features. This is good, but including a result of their quote feature would be better. If “save hundreds of dollars” or “save up to 25% on your car insurance” applies to these companies, including this benefit in their listings would give GEICO's ad serious competition.

Figure 4.1. GEICO hits a home run by stating a benefit in their advertisement.

Get specific in your listings as to how you help your customers. You'll produce higher click-through and click-to-order rates. Search engine advertising isn't about attaining more traffic. With profitability as the true benchmark of your success, it's better to attract only qualified leads that are likely to become clients.

3. Offer an Incentive

A discount or value-added deal mentioned in ad listings improves click-through rates. The incentive to click shouldn't far outweigh the benefit of your service (I know, this is a lot to cram into a short ad listing…especially on Google!). If it does, then you'll see low conversion rates. That's no good. An incentive should act like bait to get people to buy right now as opposed to shopping around more, or thinking they'll come back later to your listing (the problem is they don't always return).


Discount examples: $5 off, 25% savings

Added value example: Buy 1 get 1 free, free gift with purchase

Shoppers love “free stuff,” too. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a hard good or service. Free information or a downloadable product (a special report or software, for example) costs little or no money to produce. And there are no shipping costs with electronic products. Hence, you can create a free offer without investing a lot of money.


Free shipping is a significant incentive for online shoppers. Unfortunately, so many companies now offer this that it may no longer be considered the differentiation factor it once was. It's still worth a try, though, especially around the holidays.

As a note of caution, if you promote a free goodie in your listings, monitor your conversion rate where you're paying for traffic. You could end up paying for junk traffic. (Tip: Mention “free” in the description and not the title, so people have to read your listing before they notice the incentive.)

On the other hand, promoting a free offer in your ad listing is fine if your goal is to grow your lead database. This is easily done if site visitors must complete a form on your site to receive the gift. A free product sample giveaway is an excellent example of how to spark future market demand and initiate a branding campaign simultaneously.

4. Create a Sense of Urgency

With millions of searches performed on the Internet every day, how are you going to get users to stop searching and start clicking? Tell your audience why they should click on your ad listing right now. You can establish a sense of urgency by striking an emotional chord with them, or by limiting the timeframe of your incentive.

To connect with them on an emotional level, “feel their pain” and address how your company can stop it immediately. Are your prospects stressed from long work commutes? Are they worried about finances? What are they feeling, and why? Promise to deliver them from their painful situation, and they'll be ready to click to a solution.

Limiting your incentive to a short timeframe is a second tactic to entice web surfers to click, and buy, today. Make a sale good for “24 hours.” Show a reduced price as an “introductory offer only.” Or, note that your special offer is “limited to the first 50 customers.” This can create the illusion that demand exceeds supply, which is very appealing.

What might shoppers' concerns be when they search for “flower delivery?” Certainly, the delivery date is a possibility. How about price? Selection? Several florists venture a guess on AOL.com, which pulls Google's Sponsored Listing results. In Figure 4.2, three of the four Sponsored Links advertisers promote same-day delivery. Two of those three address price: One promotes a 10% discount for typing the word “coupon” into the order form, while the other states that their prices start from $24.99. Which is a more compelling offer? In general, the first advertiser's click rate should be higher thanks to their special 10% discount that is assumed to be time sensitive.

Figure 4.2. The four sponsors buying “flower delivery” promote their delivery options in different ways.

5. Use a Call to Action

Ok, you identified what you want site visitors to do when they get to your site in Chapter 2; now ask them to take action.

Due to character limitations with text ad listings, saying “click here” is not an effective use of this small space. Additionally, because you want to turn your prospects into customers, the action called for in your listings should not be about getting them to your web site.

“Buy now” is a clear invitation, but on its own doesn't provide a reason to order right now. It's about offering a benefit or solution if customers take an action on your web site. As shown in Figure 4.2, Shaw Florist (www.bestflowersonline.com) offers a 10% discount on flower delivery—buying flowers is an assumption and doesn't need to be stated.

Test various calls to action to determine which are most effective for your paid listing campaigns. Here are a few examples of actions visitors can be encouraged to take:

  • Buy a product or service

  • Request a consultation or in-person appointment

  • Request a brochure or other sales collateral

  • Download a white paper, application form, or other type of document

  • Subscribe to an online newsletter

  • Register a product warranty

  • Submit a testimonial

  • Complete a survey

  • Refer the site to a friend

  • Send a free e-card

6. Promote Your Competitive Advantage

Relieve prospect boredom from staring at a page of content-relevant text links by standing out. Before you submit your ad listings, see what your competitors are saying. Then, say something unique (refer to your unique selling points as discussed in Chapter 2). This is quite fun. You have an opportunity to play off of your competitors' messages.

Go back to Figure 4.2 and notice that all four sponsors' ads offer flower delivery. Several address same-day delivery. But the first florist's ad offers a discount. The second advertiser reveals that they're the official company web site (important differentiator if you're competing with your own or someone else's affiliates online). The third florist's ad mentions the starting price of their flowers, $24.99, and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. These are all strong competitive advantages. I can't figure out why the fourth florist's ad boasts “hand delivery” and “morning delivery,” which seem standard for this kind of service, not extra special.

Stay on top of your competitors' listings. If you start promoting a specific price, your competitors may announce that they can beat it. By crafting a variety of listings you'll be able to respond quickly to changes in your competitors' listings.

7. Include Your Keywords

Here's a tactic that doesn't apply to traditional marketing, but is important in search engine advertising: Include your keywords in your ad listing. According to Overture, advertisers' click-through rates can increase by 50% if the keyword bid on is included in the title and description of the ad. This makes sense. If shoppers search for “aromatherapy candles” they may ignore “scented candles” or “aromatic candles,” even if all three phrases mean the same thing to the advertiser. Study the advertisers' listings in Figure 4.3 to see who is incorporating this tactic and who is not.

Figure 4.3. Include your keyword in your ad listing. How many of these advertisers have incorporated “aromatherapy candles” into their title or description?

In an effort to provide more targeted results to their users, search engine editors of paid placement programs might reject your ad listing if there's no mention of the keyword you're buying in the title or description. When you submit your keywords along with your ad listing copy and landing pages (also called destination URLs or target URLs), your listings are reviewed by human editors. These editors act as the gatekeepers of the sacred positions. They'll reject or revise your submission, so it's best to appease them on the first round. Believe me, it's frustrating to submit a bunch of listings and then have to go back and edit the listings, resubmit them, and wait for another few days before they're live.

For paid inclusion programs, it's also problematic to not have the keyword in the web site page you want to rank well for that term (more about that in Part III, “Paid Inclusion Programs”).

Here's sample ad listing copy for Red Mountain Spa:

Keyword: fitness spa

Title: Fitness Spa Summer Rates from $209

Description: Get in shape and re-energize through YogaSpin, Pilates, and Red Mountain Spa's 35 weekly fitness classes. Your all-inclusive adventure in the unspoiled beauty of Utah awaits your arrival.

Keyword: fitness spa

Title: $39 Summer Massages at Utah's Fitness Spa

Description: Over 35 weekly fitness programs, daily meals, resort accommodations are all included. Massage special July-August only.

Keyword: fitness spa

Title: All-Inclusive Fitness Adventure Spa

Description: Get fit with over 35 weekly fitness programs, hiking in the unspoiled red mountains, gourmet meals for healthy living—all included. 90 minutes from Las Vegas. Summer specials from $209.

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