10 common ad copy mistakes and how to avoid them

Jun 14, 2019 by
10 common ad copy mistakes and how to avoid them

A Pay Per Click (PPC) analysis by Unbounce recently found that a staggering 98% of ads are a waste of money. And yet the digital advertising market continues to flourish.

Whilst the problem is often with the ad itself, there is one thing that many marketers overlook – the ad copy. Poor ad copy can completely decimate an otherwise solid campaign and yet so many continue to make the same mistakes.

Even the most experience paid search marketers continue to make mistakes when it comes to ad copy, which has always been something of a ‘game of chance’ when it comes to figuring out what words to use and why and how to use them in order to generate strong returns. There are, however, a number of common hurdles that can quite comfortably be avoided as long as you know what you’re looking for.

Testing Testing

All ad copy should be tested thoroughly if you wish to improve PPC performance. Indeed, CTR and conversion rates have been proven to improve when back by a solid ad copy testing strategy. As many as variants as possible should be tested to make sure you’re exploring the right avenues. Otherwise, how are you going to know what’s working and what isn’t?

Stuffed Turkey

In the bygone days of Google, the general consensus was that the more keywords you stuffed into your copy, the better your results would be. Google, however, has evolved and isn’t quite as gullible as it once was. Whereas you could once essentially cheese the system, the standards are much higher now, with users expecting accurate results that deliver genuine value. Remember – everything in moderation.

Dull Words

Passive, cliché-ridden phrases and flowery sentences are not going to get you anyway in the world of ad copy. Still to striking and inspiring words and phrases that get the blood pumping!

Customer Relevance

Google isn’t the only one that has gotten smarter – users have too. This means they have been conditioned to avoid ads and search results that they perceive as being ‘spammy’ and keyword stuffed and instead seek out those results that actually cater to their needs. If they’ve evolved, you must do likewise. Keywords are still important, of course, but they need to feel natural and ‘earned’ rather than shoehorned in.

Analyse ppc dataUse Your Numbers

Numbers are a much more immediate way of getting a message across when it comes to cumbersome and dull ad copy. For example, replacing a phrase like “massive summer sale now on” with “50% off everything this summer” will always draw more clicks.

Extensions are Your Friends

With the strict character limits imposed on ad copy, ad extensions that allow you to add more information and expand your coverage are essential. Extensions that show up alongside your copy will add immense value and will also allow you to convey more of what you‘re trying to get across in your copy without sacrificing characters.

Call to Action

A phrase almost as old as the internet itself, the CTA is a vital aspect of any PPC ad that still surprisingly gets overlooked by even experienced marketers. The problem is that it can be seen as a little ‘crass’ to explicitly ask a customer to do something, but how else are they going to know what to do? A CTA can take up as few as two or three words and yet can be the critical difference between a click and a pass.


Ad copy is not the place for subtlety. You don’t have much space to make an impression so make your copy headline-heavy and attention-grabbing. Summarise what you’re promoting in as succinct a manner as possible and then set about making it clickable. Ad copy should feel urgent and bold. You want consumers to feel like they NEED to click right now and subtlety is not going to pull that trick.

Waffling On

Whilst you are restricted by how many characters you can use, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should use them all. If your ad copy takes more than a couple of seconds to read and digest then the consumer will move on. Think short sentences with simple and commanding words and don’t be afraid to use bullet points if needs be.

Benefits > Features

Finally, this is not the space for you to wax lyrical on the diverse features your service or product offers, it’s the space to list the benefits it offers.

Writing good ad copy is a balancing act between art and science to create something that is creative, compelling and clickable. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes and keep the ad copy mistakes above in the back of your mind and you should be well on your way to PPC success!