Copywriting is one of the most important skills that any digital marketer can possess.
In SMMA, this skill is most often used for Facebook advertising, sales pages, and email marketing.
In this guide, we’ll be dealing with copywriting for Facebook adverts.
In the world of advertising and media, copy is anything that takes written form – as opposed to images, video, or audio recordings.
More specifically, ‘copy’ is often used as shorthand for persuasive sales-writing which attempts to convince readers to take an action.
When most people think of written – or indeed any – advertising, they think of massive brands like Coca Cola, or Mercedes with impressive graphics and witty slogans.
This is referred to as ‘indirect response’ advertising and its primary aim is to promote brand awareness and foster the association of a company with a trait.
Whilst this form of advertising may be considered effective for larger companies, there exists a much more effective form of advertising: direct-response advertising.
In order to be considered as direct-response advertising, the copy must link to a discrete, specific, and trackable call-to-action.
For example, an advert for a real estate agent that links to a free guide to increase the value of your home contains a single, specific and trackable offer: after viewing the advert, someone can either download the guide or not.
Direct-response copywriting is much more effective than traditional advertising because it allows advertisers to track the impact of each and every advert.
Furthermore, adverts written in the direct-response style are often created with compelling headlines, long-form copy, and subjugated creatives.
One of the most famous examples of direct-response copywriting, David Ogilvy’s Rolls Royce advert, is an excellent example of the importance of research.
Prior to putting pen to paper when writing this advert, Ogilvy spent three weeks researching Rolls Royce, speaking to their engineers, their existing customers, and reading about their manufacturing process. Ogilvy actually borrowed this headline from the Technical Editor of an automotive magazine.
Your agency’s onboarding process is an excellent opportunity to perform initial research on your client. If you use an onboarding form to intake your new clients, it’s important to include questions such as:
These questions can also be asked as part of your initial strategy call. Depending on who is writing the copy for your client, it’s helpful to have this person attend this call to be able to speak to the client in person and ask any questions they might have.
Whilst Facebook adverts come in a variety of formats, headlines are almost always visible, and the most important element of your advert.
Why? Because 80% of people don’t make it past your headline, and five times as many people see your headline than they do the ‘body copy’.
This means your headline is your best chance to get Facebook users to look at the rest of your advert, and your call-to-action.
The good news is, headlines are one of the most-studied elements of media, being used not just in advertising but traditional news outlets. So there are some hard-and-fast rules to follow when it comes to creating a compelling headline.
Power words are notoriously difficult to define but consider the headline of this article: How to Write Killer Facebook Ads. There’s no reason to include the word ‘killer’ but it makes a powerful statement about this article. Generally-speaking, power words convey emotion and create intrigue.
How-to headlines are one of the most foolproof ways of getting users to read the rest of your advert. It promises the reader information, and that they will at least learn something by reading the body copy.
A curiosity gap is created by introducing a concept or theory to the reader in the headline, and leaving them unsatisfied and needing to read the body copy to learn more. For example, ‘Foods you should never eat to lose weight’.
Once you have created a compelling headline, your next challenge is to funnel your reader through your body copy, to your call to action.
For many copywriters, this is the most challenging element of writing an advert. It’s also where most fail: remember most adverts contain small amounts of copy and are written with short, snappy slogans.
In order to be effective, you should aim to write at least three paragraphs of continuous prose (i.e., non-bullet point).
You must also aim to engage, entertain, inform, and persuade your reader. How is this possible?
Story-telling is one of the most powerful forms of advertising. Humans naturally respond to stories and are more likely to be persuaded by them, as opposed to facts or figures. You’re more likely to remember that an Audi won at Le Mans than you are its 0-60 time
A popular maxim in advertising comes from economist Theodore Levitt who said:
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole”
In other words, people don’t go shopping for features, they go shopping for benefits. So if you’re writing about a new face mask, don’t tell people it contains salicylic acid, tell them it will give them clear skin.
Although it may seem a million miles away from modern digital marketing, Aristotle’s The Rhetoric provides an excellent guide to selling via copy with his ‘Modes of Persuasion’.
These include: using emotive language or story-telling to invoke an emotional response; associating with or quoting authoritative figures to increase your own authority; crafting an argument using clear-cut-logic; and creating a sense of urgency or making the reader feel like they are in the right time and the right place.
Whilst your call-to-action is the last element of the advert your readers will see, it’s also the last hurdle many advertisers fall at.
On Facebook, the call-to-action is set out with a clear-defined button with a number of preset options such as ‘Sign up’ or ‘Book now’.
Whilst it’s important to select the right option, it’s absolutely crucial that you provide a justification for your readers to click on the call to action.
In a famous study known as the ‘Xerox Experiment‘, researchers found that individuals were more likely to comply with a request if a justification was given. But the nature of the justification was not as important as there being one at all.
In other words, even if you don’t have a reason to get readers to follow-through with your call to action, make one up!
If you write, ‘click now to sign up because you’ll get an email’ you’ll get more click-throughs than ‘click here to sign up’.
Of course, it’s better to use an actual justification.
We’ve left any discussion of creatives until the end of this article and with good reason: they’re the least important element of your advert.
Whilst there are exceptions – such as in the case of Instagram stories – we find that good-quality but not professionally-taken static images of products in use, or individuals taken in normal surroundings (as opposed to a studio) perform best.
Images should be free of text and graphics.