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The Psychology of Great AdWords Copy

Is your PPC copy dynamic and engaging – or is it dull, generic and failing to connect with your target audience? In order to write AdWords copy that beats the competition, you need to understand what attracts and motivates your target audience. One way to gain insight into your customer base is by A/B testing ad copy. And while A/B testing is important, it’s also a lengthy process. What if you could streamline this process by writing better ad copy in the first place? Applying marketing psychology to AdWords copywriting can help you write better copy that connects with your target audience, delivers more clicks, and drives sales.

Search Basics. Let’s start with the basics of search. An individual has a need, which leads to an online search. This search then produces offers, in the form of AdWords, which in turn leads to a website visit. Sounds simple, right? In reality, there are a number of psychological processes underlying this search chain. One way to think about this is to consider the different motivating factors affecting people at each step in the search process:

    1. Need: What stimulates people?
    2. Demand: What possible solutions exist for individuals to satisfy their needs?
    3. Search: What are people searching for (i.e., keyword phrases) in order to find out more about a possible solution?
    4. Offers: What do people want to see (i.e., AdWord copy) in order to find an answer to their questions?
    5. Visit: What do people have to do in order to find the answer to their needs on your website (i.e., landing page optimization)

Search & Buying Cycle. In addition to the search process, it’s also important to consider where a potential customer is in the search and buying cycle. There are three general stages which impact the type of keywords and offer benefits to include in ad copy:

    1. Awareness and interest
    2. Learning and shopping
    3. Purchasing

During the first awareness and interest stage, choose general, broad keyword terms. For example, if you are a hotel website targeting New York City visitors, you might choose search terms such as “best New York hotel” or “cheap NYC hotel”.

AdWords 1
During stage two, learn and shop, a combination of terms highlighting specific benefits and features is most appropriate, such as “Compare & Book Best NYC Hotel”.
AdWords 2

The final stage is the purchasing stage. Your copy should be specific with a clear call to action. For example, if you are targeting travelers searching for a last minute hotel deal, your copy should clearly state that you have the best deals possible. Create a sense of urgency by emphasizing the deals are going fast and need to be booked immediately.
AdWords 3

Perceived Value, Risk Reduction & Credibility. Finally, when writing AdWords copy, keep in mind the importance of perceived value, risk reduction and credibility. Perceived value is simple; your potential visitor is looking for a solution to their pain point. Potential customers care about solving a problem, not necessarily buying a product or service. You will generate more money when people believe they are getting a great deal to solve their problem. After all, everyone wants to save money by finding the most affordable solution possible that’s still high quality. Next, focus on risk reduction. Potential customers balance the desire to quickly solve their problems with the need to guard against risk; after all, they don’t want to waste their time or money. Consequently, your PPC copy must convince customers that your product/service is the best value solution that they can trust to not waste their time or money. Credibility is key in order to reduce risk.


Chris Sparks, iSpionage Director of Marketing
Chris Sparks, iSpionage Director of Marketing
Chris is an online marketing and content strategist here at iSpionage building awareness and engagement within our target markets. Connect with Chris or on Twitter.