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If you google ‘attention grabbing ads’, you’ll find all kinds of really clever (and often really big budget) visual ads, but it may be hard to relate those to an idea for your business. Let alone for your budget. But you still want your ad to capture attention. So how do you do it?

Even if you don’t have a really clever idea, there are some simple rules you can use to make your ads better. Today I’m going to compare 2 Adwords ads I found when I was doing competitive research – something all good marketers should do! I’m going to point out some basic rules which you can use to improve your ads, whatever industry you’re in.

Ready? Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Get pen and paper.
  2. Look at the ads below.
  3. Write down which ad you would be most likely to click on if you were looking for marketing help.
  4. (This is the most important!) Write down at least two reasons you prefer that ad over the other one.

Once you’ve done all that, scroll on down and read which ad I (and my trusted panel of advisors) preferred. Find out why. Find out how you can apply those learnings to your ads.

Two Adwords ads for marketing consultants.

About these ads

First, a couple of quick comments to set the scene.

  1. Neither ad is by me. They are both ads from competitor companies, because like all good marketers I do my competitor research! I’ve blanked out the urls to protect the privacy of the companies involved.
  2. The first ad is a traditional standard format AdWords ad. The second ad is the new(er) expanded text ad format. This  rolled out from July 2016 until January 2017, and it’s now the only format you can use to write a new ad. This post has more information.

Which ad gets my vote?

Hands down the first one. Despite the fact that it’s the old format and apparently not updated, it is much, much better. I can see why people would click on it – in fact, I’m tempted myself! The second one I’m not the least bit interested in.

The question of course is why? So let’s look at my reasons – then see what we can learn from my reasoning, and how to use that to make your ads get more attention and more clicks.

Learning No 1: Talk about and for the customer

Imagine you’re looking for a marketing consultant. Which ad talks about the benefits to you?

Would you rather increase sales and profits, or work with an award winning consultant?

Personally, I don’t really care how many awards my marketing agency or consultant has won. Good for them that they’ve won awards, but how does that help my business? Winning awards means they’ve been promoting their business. I’d rather they promote my business, grow my business.

If they can help me win awards that would better than them winning awards themselves – but you know what? I don’t even really care about that. I would far rather make money. Increase my sales and profits.

This is what Adam Franklin of Bluewire Media picked when I asked him. ‘The first. It’s benefit focused, benefit to the client, and also not self referential.

Or as Sue Goltyakova put it, “When it comes down to it telling them that good marketing will make them more money is what works.

Learning No 2: Social Proof

There’s something else going on in that first ad that’s brilliant. Social proof.

Look at the words again. “Proven track record.”  “International experience.”

There’s no room in an Adwords ad for a case study. I’ve seen a few with testimonials, but even that is tough. All the same, whoever wrote this ad is sending a very strong message of capability. And even before clicking, I feel sure that there will be case studies and testimonials to back up the claims.

The lesson here is simple – if you have experience, at the very least, say so. Even better, demonstrate it. Get someone else to say it.

Learning No 3: Sitelink Extensions are great!

Look again at the second piece of ‘social proof’. ‘International Experience.’ It’s in blue – because it’s a link. You can click through and find out more to back up those words.

This is an example of a sitelink extension. In fact, the ad has three of them.

The learning here is specific to Adwords, but it’s important.

Google data shows that having sitelink extensions on your ads increases clickthrough rate by 10-20% (even more for branded searches).

No brainer really. Each sitelink takes the user to a different page – one relevant to the particular copy on that link. With more options, no wonder the clickthrough goes up.

In this case, I’d think the results might be even better – because those sitelinks are so relevant. ‘How we work together.’ ‘What’s the cost?’ Those are really straightforward questions pretty much everyone looking for a marketing consultant would want answers to.

So if you’re using Google Adwords, use sitelink extensions. Wordstream have an excellent article on using sitelink extensions if you want more information.

Learning N0 4: Repetition is a waste of space

Now let’s look at the second ad and see what’s going on.

One thing I notice right away is the repetition.

  • ‘Get Ahead Of Your Competitors With Smarter Marketing’.
    Right below that: ‘Get Smarter Marketing’.
  • ‘Award Winning Consultants’.
    Right below that: ‘Award Winning Results’.

I mentioned before that this is an expanded text ad. It has more space. More opportunities to include different benefits; different calla-to-action, different aspects of your service.  But this ad has missed those opportunities.

For some ideas about how to use an expanded text ad properly have a look at this post here, which talks about writing AdWords ads.

Learning No 5: Make your call to action stand out.

Let’s start by noting that both these ads had a call to action, which puts them ahead of many other ads out there. It’s all very well getting attention, but then you need the reader to take some action!

But then let’s compare the calls to action.

‘Find out how!’ vs ‘Contact us Today’. (And yes, they did forget to capitalise the word ‘us’.)

There’s nothing wrong with ‘Contact Us‘, but it’s quite common, which means it stands out less. And it suggests a conversation only.

Find out how’, on the other hand, hints at an opportunity to learn something. It’s why ‘how to’ headlines are so effective for emails and blog posts. There’s a promise in them. So for my money, ‘Find out how’ is much more energetic and motivating.

In summary

Veteran advertiser Howard Gossage had it right:

Howard Gossage quote with lightbulb

“The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”

So you need to make your ad interesting. Appeal to your potential client. Answer their core question – ‘What’s in it for me?’

That will give you an attention grabbing ad. The next step is to make the reader (or viewer) take the next step. Which is where social proof and a strong call to action come in.

What next?

Why not take another look at your ads and see how they perform against the 5 points in this article? Can you improve them? I hope so.

If you can’t, send me one or two ads and I’ll send you some revised options for free. Just one request – let me know how they perform. (And who knows – if I get enough takers, maybe I’ll do a follow-up post based on those!)

Good luck attracting attention!



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