By Don Sturgill
Writing is my job.
I launched my first newsletter when I was nine years old.
I’ve written newspaper articles, newspaper advertising, short stories, poetry, and ebooks. I’ve penned songs and composed white papers. I’ve written online ads for eMarketers, business plans for entrepreneurs, websites for corporations, and marketing copy galore. I’ve helped launch marketing campaigns, brand businesses, start businesses, promote businesses and manage reputations.
But, of those zillion-some words of persuasive penmanship I’ve dispensed, the most difficult of all were composed of the 95 characters one is allowed (not counting the URL) when I wrote my first pay-per-click text ad.
There are plenty of rewards awaiting talented PPC writers, but the only thing easy about the job is failing.
Losing money with PPC is fairly simple. Anyone can do it.
Earning money takes effort.
The problem with writing ads for PPC
Normally, a writer has two primary concerns: The message and the audience. I have something valuable to pass on to you, and I want to do my best to be sure you receive the message. Any Communications 101 class will tell you all about the challenge of getting a message across.
And it is a challenge.
With Google ads, though, there are other concerns. It’s like an arcade game where various objects keep popping up, and your job is to zap them with invisible bullets.
Let’s take a look at a few of those moving targets facing the beleaguered PPC ad writer, and talk about how one can begin to deal with them.
The PPC ad writer must be selective about the audience
Most writers just hope to attract an audience. Generally speaking, the more responses one gets, the better. I don’t care WHO buys my book. I only care THAT you buy my book.
I want as many people as possible to view my Super Bowl ad. Sure, not every one of those viewers will buy my product — but they could help build buzz.
(NOTE: Every savvy marketing message, no matter the medium, should be directed to a specific audience.)
But PPC is different in one big way:
Since the PPC client gets charged for every click, the PPC writer’s job is to work hard at getting the most qualified customers to click through – and the rest to go away.
If you’re writing ads for magazines or newspapers or comic books, there’s no harm in someone NOT in your “target audience” paying attention to the ad. Who knows, maybe that someone knows someone who needs exactly what you have to sell.
With PPC writing, though, if you draw too many lookers and too few buyers, you could cost your client (or yourself) a whole lot of hard-earned cash. Fail at PPC often enough, and you’ll be looking for a safer writing gig – maybe even joining the chorus of those who wail that pay-per-click “just don’t work.”
The PPC writer must know what Google thinks – and that can change more often than a newborn’s diaper
I love it when people pretend to know what Google thinks. Google doesn’t even know what Google thinks.
Google has become as close to a virtual, electronically-souled taskmaster as the world has ever seen. Google is run by computers, not by people. One day, even the Google board of directors will be replaced by an algorithm. Just watch and behold, you non-believers. The future is upon us. [insert smiley face here]
Google has rules. Has anyone noticed that? And if you don’t play by the rules, the taskmaster gets angry. Push the system too hard or wander into a forbidden zone, and you may get scorned – even denied further privileges from the world’s most influential search engine for eCommerce.
For a PPC ad writer, being suspended from AdWords is akin to an attorney getting disbarred and thrown out of court. Ain’t nobody going to fix it for you. Serve your time, make your amends, and … maybe you will get back in the game.
PPC writers must stay up with the ever-changing Google universe more closely than a physician scans medical journals for critical developments in the practice.
The PPC writer who doesn’t stay on top of the game is headed for disaster.
Landing pages are the PPC writers best worst friend
Back to the arcade game.
There is a bad guy on a horse. He is riding side-saddle and firing at you. Your job is to pick him off quickly. Unfortunately, tourists and saloon girls and kids selling newspapers keep getting in the way.
You have to not only shoot straight, but pull the trigger at the right time, in the right place, to hit the correct target.
Just when the PPC writer thinks the ad is tweaked to the sweet spot – having surveyed the audience, Google’s current playbook, every extraneous event possibly related (time of day, day of week, weather, what’s hot and what’s not …), ad infinitum – there is invariably a call from the client or the landing page designer.
“We’ve made a few changes.”
PPC writers absolutely must coordinate the ad with the place (landing page) where the happy clicker (potential customer) will arrive. There are few things less annoying, online, than to click on a link pointing to something of interest – then get there and not be able to find it.
Have you ever seen an article touted on the front page of a magazine, but had to scour the index and pages in order to find out what that provocative headline is talking about? It’s a tricky way to get you to look through the pages and see the ads. And it’s a real good way to get me never to buy your magazine again.
For some reason, though, clients can have a hard time understanding why the writer needs a solid landing page as a target for the copy. And, way too often, even the design team doesn’t get it.
“Hey, you’re the writer. Write me something.”
Any good marketing-trained copywriter should be able to sell spit to cuspidors, right?
Writing a PPC ad without a conversion-centered, appropriate landing page is like flying in the dark without instruments.
How can you write PPC ads that work?
Let’s say you are the kind of person who is a born writer. Or maybe you’re not. The minimum requirement is that you are capable of cohesive conversation and have taken the requisite Communcations 101.
Here are three tips on how to write PPC adds without crash-landing:
1) Know thy audience: Separate the wheat from the chaff. You must not only be able to spot those folks who could legitimately have a need for your wares and be able to afford them – but also those who maybe don’t need and maybe can’t afford your offer. Learn to draw one close and shun the other like the flu on your wedding day. Live long and prosper.
2) Study to know your craft. Writing is based on fundamentals. Know them. Google is based on movement. Move with Google. Stay in tune with Google. Become a student of Google. Live smart and prosper.
3) Learn when to stand your ground and state the facts. It’s this easy:
“Oh, surely you can go ahead and write ads while we work on the landing page.”
“We are thinking to just use the home page as the landing page for every ad group.
See? Talk smart and prosper.
The end of the story, or “The PPC Writer Rides Off Into the Sunset”
I know it’s not that easy, nor is it that simple. It is never that easy or simple. The moral of the story is this: PPC writing is a tough job.
Ernest Hemingway, public domain
You see, there really aren’t many dedicated PPC writers around. You know, the gun slinging, straight-shooting, saving-the-damsel-in-distress sort of writers. Actually, most PPC ads are written by account managers who are often better suited to administrative or sales work than copywriting.
My crystal ball says all of that is going to change — as more and more writers grasp the significance of the PPC ad writing opportunity. (It should be noted, though, that there appears to be no current rush of writers seeking Google AdSense qualifications.)
Why work that hard, when the internet has an insatiable need for “more content, more content,” and all you need is a spellchecker to hang up your writer’s shingle? Why concentrate on a disciplined writing style, like PPC, when you can spin articles, website copy, and eBooks like tops at a Sunday School picnic?
Here’s why. Here is exactly why some of the finest writers on the planet will soon be attracted to PPC. Here is why, once the word gets out and the industry wakes up, there will be a bonafide PPC writer assigned to every top-performing pay-per-click campaign:
Because PPC ad writing ain’t easy and someone pays dearly for every click.
Every copywriter is familiar with the legends of the business. Folks like John Caples, Helen Lansdowne-Resor, Claude Hopkins, and David Ogilvy. They lived and wrote in the “good old days,” when those who knew the secrets of advertising were hailed as heroes. A talented copywriter could bring in a landslide of dollars for a client … on one ad.
Well, guess what, cowgirls and boys: the good old days are back again. Writing pay-per-click copy is every bit as demanding (more demanding) and has every bit as much potential (even more potential) as any other advertising medium ever had.
The bottom bottom line: Those who realize the challenge will dig in and thrive.
Those who aren’t up to the challenge won’t.
Yippee yi yo!
Find out more about how to get your PPC campaigns on track. Call 888-659-2680 for your no cost, no obligation initial consultation with the Conversion Max team.
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