7 Ways to Write Super-Effective AdWords Ads (with Real Examples)


Writing AdWords ads can be extremely frustrating because you need to fit all your ad copy into such a tiny space.

“Only 25 characters for the headline?!” “I can’t use the word ‘click’? But that’s what I want them to do!” “I can’t fit all my benefits and features here...”


Seriously Google? Image source.

You have to get creative to stand out from the nine other advertisers you’re sharing real estate space with (or as few as four competitors if you’re on mobile).

So how do you do it?

I’m here to give you some proven tactics and tips you can use to write amazing AdWords ads that will bring you higher click-through rates, higher Quality Scores and higher conversion rates.

Ready to have some fun? Let’s go!

Mirror the visitor’s end goal

Because many of your competitors are using dynamic keyword insertion and bidding on similar keywords, you’ll notice that a lot of their ads say the same thing.

It’s easy to get lost in the mix and hurt your chances of getting that click – so how can you stand out?

Advertisers sometimes lose sight of what their customers are truly looking for. I call this “The End Goal:” what people ultimately want to accomplish with the help of your product or service.

Understanding this can be the secret to writing an ad that stands out from the sea of DKI keywords.

A hypothetical example

Let’s say you sell acne products and your visitors search for keywords like, “Help get rid of acne.”

Your headline shouldn’t ask prospects if they’re “Dealing with Acne?” – as the advertiser, you already know that they are.


Instead, you should speak to their End Goal – what they’re looking to achieve – with a headline like this:

Kill Acne Once & For All

Don’t give up very precious headline space for something you and the visitor already know. Instead, give visitors that end solution they’re looking for.

Worried about your PPC account? Wondering how you measure up to competitors? Get a free AdWords Performance Grade!

A real-world example

What if you’re a car buyer who purchases cars from the general public?

Interested prospects might search for something like this:


WeBuyCars.com tells the visitor they’ll buy the car – which mirrors the prospect’s end goal.

To make it easy for people to convert and remove ambiguity, all these ads should focus on telling prospects what they want to hear: “We’ll Buy Your Car Today.”

Why? Because the goal of the searcher is to have someone buy their car. How they go about selling it isn’t as important as actually getting it sold.

With a headline like “Sell Your Car Today,” the searcher might wonder if they have to list their car themselves on an AutoTrader-like platform and field calls from a ton of tire-kickers who aren’t really serious about buying a car. Or even worse, will they get a call back from seven interested companies who will spam them until they die?

I’ve run this test, specifically for a car buyer, pitting “Need To Sell Your Car?” (control) versus “We’ll Buy Your Car Today” (variation).

This simple headline tweak resulted in a 30% increase in conversions.

Use countdown timers to trigger loss aversion

Did you know that we’re more readily motivated by the idea of losing out than the idea of gaining something?

This commonly known psychological force is called loss aversion and it can be a powerful way of boosting your AdWords click-through and conversion rates.

Luckily, injecting a little FOMO into your ads isn’t very hard.

Google has recently come out with a simple countdown timer you can set within your text ads. All you have to do is add this little snippet inside your headline or description:


Then this popup will appear:


This is what the countdown dashboard looks like.

After you set the end date, your ad will include a countdown in real time. Visitors seeing your ads will be motivated by their fear of loss, giving you the edge over your competitors who aren’t using this tactic.

A real-world example

Ad agency Merkle | IMPAQT did this for some of their clients pre-Black Friday to have their AdWords text ads countdown to when the actual sale started. Here’s what they found:

We used the countdown feature to countdown the days until Thanksgiving and holiday deals began. We discovered the click and impression assisted conversions for this ad copy performed at a significantly higher rate than other copy. We also saw higher conversions associated with this copy on Thanksgiving and for about a week after as a result.

They’re not the only ones to have seen success with this new feature – Clarks America saw a 32% increase in CTR and a 3% increase on conversion rates from using the countdown timers.

Keep your ads current

Now that we’re on the subject of time, have you ever felt that certain things are more relevant or exciting when they just happened?

The concept of being current and timely is pretty intuitive; what happened recently will get more eyeballs and interest than what happened three months ago.

The same is true with your AdWords ads.

Have you tried testing copy that states how many customers you serviced last month or this year?

I put this to the test for a tax accounting firm. Here were the two ads we pitted against each other:


The control ad (top) and the variation (bottom)

The result? The more timely, current ad saw a whopping 217% increase in CTR and 23% improvement in conversion rates.

And I’m willing to bet that the specificity of the number also added some conversion power...

Get super specific

Numbers are easy to digest and understand, and studies show that incorporating them into your copy can make it appear more accurate and credible.

Here’s a great example from MECLABS in which Amy Hebdon created a new numbers-driven ad to compete against her control ad:


The control ad (top) and the variation (bottom)

Which one do you think performed the best?

The control ad did.

Just kidding, the new ad did! It actually received an 88% higher click-through rate at a confidence level of 99%.

Why did this happen? The specificity of the new ad could have made it just a tad more credible than the control ad.

How could we make the ad perform even better?

By getting even more specific.

It’s been shown that specific numbers like 1,542 can improve performance over round numbers like 1,500+. If you're including a number, write out the exact number!

The more specific you are, the more believable you become.

And the more believable you become, the bigger your chances are of becoming the next David Blaine, or just really good at giving people a pleasant experience.


Make things personal

When it comes to writing ads, do you sometimes fall into the trap of being a little egocentric? Do you use words like “we,” “us,” “me,” “myself” and “I”?

Words like that fail to focus on the customer's needs and can hurt your chances of getting a click – not to mention they've been shown to hurt conversions on landing pages, too.

When it comes to writing copy that resonates, I couldn’t agree more with this nugget from John Kuraoka:

The second-best word is “you.” The best word is the customer’s name.

Since we’re still in the stone age of advertising and can’t add the visitor’s first name to our AdWords ads automatically, we’ll have to settle for second best.

So how do you craft AdWords ads that use power words like “you” to enhance ad performance? Take these ads for example:


Which one stands out and gets you most excited to click?

One could argue both Shopify and Volusion do a great job, but we all know that AmeriCommerce struggles.

“Awarded “Best eCommerce Solution”? Ptssshh. Enough about yourself. What can you do for me?!

Find opportunities where you can include the word “you” in your headline or first description line. And as always, lead with benefits.

Make your ads hyper-local

A lot of advertisers target more than just one city when creating their AdWords campaigns. Many even advertise nationally.

Even if you offer services world-wide, you want to be welcoming to your potential customers and show them that help is right around the corner.

You may already have a 800 number that you use for all your AdWords call extensions and landing pages, or maybe even a pool of 800 numbers. But did you know that having phone numbers with geographic proximity to the visitor can double your conversion rates?

Yeah, believe it or not, your 800 numbers could be working against you.


Image source.

So how can you put this to the test in your AdWords ads?

By creating geographic-specific AdWords campaigns and have your ad copy and call extensions specific to that geographic area as well.

The goal here is to let your prospective customers know that you’re right around the corner, with a helping hand.

If you’re still using the regular Google call forwarding in your AdWords call extensions, stop it immediately. Go to a call tracking provider and start buying all their local phone numbers.


Test your heart out

With so many of your competitors worrying about 1,000 things other than writing better ads, you now have the ammunition to make your AdWords ads the most glorious ads in the world (read: the best-performing ones).

That is, if you start testing today.

So go!

This post originally appeared on the Unbounce blog.

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

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Matt A
Apr 21, 2015

I'm going to be honest - I share most of the "good" posts I read every morning on social media. I was very hesitant to share this one for a different reason. The examples in this are really good and the post as a whole is almost a "secret weapon." If people all use this, it'll stop working. To keep it working, I wanted to keep it to myself. But I didn't. I shared it. *sigh*

Great post - keep this stuff a-comin!

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 22, 2015

Ha - thanks Matt!

Varun Arora
Apr 22, 2015

I always try to alter the text ad according to my competitors ads. Most of time i uses my brand name in ad text, is it good to use?

Jasa Iklan
Apr 23, 2015

This article is so awesome and I really love it. Will gonna try it as soon as possible to my campaign. I really learn new things after I read your article here. In this article, I get a lot of informative, useful and also helpful tips to help my adwords.
Deep thank you to you always, Jonathan.

Apr 30, 2015

Very good tips!

But the real world example also is: putting keywords in heading increases quality score and reduces price per click, which leads an ad to be shown at higher places. Of course I agree that this mostly reduces value of an ad: you try to match anything but value...

Dear author, could you please provide your opinion on this issue? Have you tried or had a chance to compare prices, CTRs and conversions when using your tips vs using mine example (keywords in headlines)?

Apr 30, 2015

Good point Roman! Keep in mind that Google's perceived relevance also comes from CTR. If you're increasing CTR, you are also going to get a better quality score. Testing is the only way you will find that nice balance.

Trevor G. Valentine
Apr 30, 2015

Very interesting but still need more insight.

Apr 30, 2015

Lots of great ideas here. Now I've gotta get to work testing some changes to my ads.

Brandon Hilton
Oct 20, 2015

So many interesting facts you have described here. I really loved this post.

Amy Hebdon
Oct 28, 2015

Hey that's my example for the MECLABs ad! In an effort to redeem myself, we only had 15 minutes to write the ad, and the only source material we had said "more than 1500 tests." Thanks for including this in the guide. Great stuff.

Cindi Seville
Dec 04, 2015

Thanks for the great info here. We never knew there was a countdown feature available in AdWords. We are going to implement this to coincide with our sales an coupon offers. Interested to the see the effect on CTR.

Apr 06, 2016

Really nice and informative article, helped me to understand why my PPC CTR and conversion ratio was low as compared to competitors.

May 12, 2016

Mirror visitors end goals - Your headline shouldn’t ask prospects if they’re “Dealing with Acne?” – as the advertiser, you already know that they are.

but in your article "21 Tips for Writing Great Ad Headlines". It is written that you can ask question. Can you clarify that.

Jul 28, 2016

This is a great post. I turn off Dynamic Ads for the fear that my ads will just look like a list of 9 other ads. Thanks for re-affirming that it actually makes sense to do that.

Nov 01, 2016

thank you for the explanation. Gonna Try it on my website. Best Regard.

Mar 24, 2017

i learn lot of good tricks thanks

pk chua
Mar 31, 2017

Many thanks for this lesson. Gonna try it now. Hope it works for me

Capt Vivek
Apr 12, 2017

Very interesting and useful information....thanks...look forward for more information on ideas and insight......once again thanks.

May 11, 2017

Thanks for sharing, gottu know more abouit adwords and its advance functionality.

jasa iklan
Aug 01, 2017

Very Great tips especially about end result in the headline, very stand out than keyword insertion text ad.

Oct 23, 2017

Really Great Article, Thanks.

Oct 31, 2017

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Nov 04, 2017

Very useful article and thanks for sharing.

Dec 14, 2017

It's not just the content that amazes me, but the way it is written. So clear, captivating, and almost riveting! Wish i could write like this!!!

Jan 09, 2018

Very useful article and thanks for sharing.

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