How to Train PPC Copywriters: Five Pay-Per Click Copywriting Best Practices

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I’ve noticed recently that more and more people with writing backgrounds (ie journalists, English majors, etc.) are landing in direct response online copywriting jobs. Without delving too deeply into the reasons for this, I think it’s useful to think about how to help equip these people with the tools they’ll need to be strong copywriters, and in this case strong PPC copywriters in particular. Whether they’re working on ad text or landing page copy there are a series of basic tenants that I think are helpful to convey to strong writers who are new to the Web and direct response.

Web Copywriting Fundamentals

For online marketers (even those who aren’t strong writers) some of the basics around creating compelling, skimmable content are basically second-nature. I think this often causes those of us steeped in this world to under-explain to these good writers with limited Web experience five key fundamentals.

1. Your Visitors are Your Prospects

It seems pretty basic, but you’d be surprised by how many new-to-the-Web copywriters – smart people who understand on some level that they’re writing to generate sales – don’t take compelling a site visitor to act into account in crafting Web copy. This is obviously a crucial mind-set for the copywriter, and encouraging them to think about the nature of persuasion and to stay focused on the action they’re trying to induce is vital.

2. Brevity is Your Friend: Get Out of Your Own Way!

Short copy doesn’t always win, but it’s important to emphasize the value of leaving gratuitous turns of phrase and unnecessary preambles out of your direct response copywriting repertoire. A clear emphasis on the fact that brevity is your friend is vital. I think often explaining the concept of bounce rate and the sheer volume of people who leave a site quickly and never come back can be helpful and compelling here.

3. Web Visitors Skim

Many of you reading this likely know that the use of headlines, bold, and bullets are commonplace in strong Web content, but often individuals with more of an academic writing background need to be instructed to break up large chunks of content. I find a good way to emphasize the importance here is just to have a couple of Word documents – one with rambling paragraphs and another with liberal use of bold, bullets, headlines and line breaks. When put in the already established context that:

  • We’re trying to sell something to a swath of different types of prospects coming to the site
  • Lots of people give you small amounts of attention and bounce immediately
  • Economy of language gives you the shortest possible path to conversion

This side-by-side visual will usually resonate (looking instantaneously, which is more aesthetically appealing?)

4. No One Cares About You!

Obviously we’ll want our green copywriter to understand the benefits of benefits. I think a good way of explaining this is to ask them to think about conversion as a conversation: what makes a great conversationalist? It’s not someone who talks about themselves, but rather someone who can relate to the other person in the conversation, is engaging and interesting, and conveys a sense of credibility (smart, funny, likable). It’s similar with creating great Web copy – it’s not about you, you need to be engaging and interesting, and you need to establish trust and authority to sell effectively on the Web.

5. You Need to Be Willing to Compete

Whether it’s AdWords or Facebook or even AdCenter, PPC platforms are getting more and more competitive. This means you need to have anyone crafting ad copy for you in the mindset that they’ll need to compete. A good way to orient them to this idea is to get their mind wrapped around click-through rates – in many industries 1% is actually pretty good! That means your competitors and the organic results are grabbing the rest – to increase your CTR you need steal back some of that share. Explaining things in this way will help them start to think about how they can differentiate their copy from the competition, and hopefully will get their competitive juices flowing and get them thinking about creative strategies for driving clicks and conversions.

What Am I Missing?

Beyond turning them loose on great copywriting blogs like Copy Blogger what else do you tell copy writers who are new to pay-per click? Drop a comment if there’s anything you’ve found to be particularly crucial/effective advice.

David Greenbaum

David Greenbaum

David Greenbaum is the CEO of BoostCTR. BoostCTR is an ad text service that guarantees improved ad performance. The platform is like Mechanical Turk for... Read Full Bio
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  • Nancy

    Great post – every copywriter needs to answer that fundamental question the visitor asks “What’s in it for me?”

    Copywriters need to keep in mind what problem or pain they are solving for the reader, and the clearly articulate the biggest benefit the product or service offers. Nice tips for beginners, especially in PPC, where every click counts.

  • Jskibbie

    I think the most important tip you mention is keeping it brief. The best content in the world isn’t worth a darn thing if noone reads it in entirety.
    Visitors to websites need to have their interest captured immediately, especially with the increasing use of video to compete with.

  • Vigor – Restaurant Branding

    Dead on. I sort of fell into copy writing at a new gig. I didn’t even know I was a good one! It’s always something I just did for my clients when they needed it and couldn’t afford a ‘real’ copy writer. However, one thing I know makes copy writers cringe is the dreaded BULLET POINT. The problem is, they’re effective as you said. They work. People skim pages and take out high level info. Bullets are very necessary.

    Great article.

  • Mike Roberts

    This seems to be mimicking exactly what I’ve been going through the past month and a half. I have a Bachelor’s in English, worked non-writing jobs for a couple years, and then recently landed in a copywriter position. For the first two weeks I needed to be constantly reminded that writing for the internet requires shorter, more concise sentences; [very] small paragraphs (e.g. 2-3 sentence); and to “dumb-down” some of my vocabulary. It is still a struggle to rein myself in and break out of my habit of writing as working on a novel or in a college course.

    • Zippy Cart

      Same here. Came in with that college vocabulary and complex sentences/paragraphs…quickly changed it to choppier blocks of text and shorter sentences. We all do what we have to in order to survive.

  • Bob Leonard

    I’d add that they need to keep in mind their goal… whatever it is for that specific piece. It may be just to establish thought leadership in a niched topic or, at the other end of the spectrum, it might be to make a sale. In any event, the information must be relevant and useful to their target audience, or they won’t read it.

  • Scott

    A client told me…I want base hits. Great advice. Follow the proven techniques and you’ll hit a lot of base hits. Read a Herschell Gordon Lewis book…or three. Hit deadlines. Fire slow and disorganized clients. Find busy clients and find a way to click with them.

  • pay per click

    Nice post .Thanks for listing Five Pay-Per Click Copywriting Best Practices to Train PPC Copywriters. It’s really a great.You have done a great job. Keep sharing with us.