Ohhh, ads—yep, we love to complain about Facebook ads, but a lot of us have at LEAST one purchase (right?) we’ve made and love thanks to a well-targeted, well-written ad.
When they work, they work. 🙌
I’ve been writing Facebook ads since 2015, and refined a pretty good process for my own copywriting business & my copywriting clients. Today, I’m walking you through the 3 steps to writing Facebook ad copy that converts: from the hook to the call-to-action, you’ll see how to build around 4-5 different versions of an ad to test … JUST with the ad copy.
*Spoiler alert* these tips aren’t going to help you crank out Facebook ad copy in mere minutes—I have found that writing good copy takes upwards of an hour, but it’s worth it every.single.time.
In the past 6 months, my team and I have written multiple variations for more than 29 clients… So I’m coming at you, reporting from in the weeds, as someone who has tested around 150 ads on Facebook and Instagram.
I’m ~so~ excited to talk about ads, I’ve never talked about it before on my blog!
Alright, let’s dive in!
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No. 1 | Research & find different hook ideas
Quick story: if you have watched any of the videos on my YouTube channel, you know about my fantastic journalism school professor Dr. C. He always talked about “finding the hook to hang your hat on”.This applies to your ads as well. Just like different fish need different bait, you are going to need distinctive contrasting angles… people definitely respond to different things.
Ninja tip: On Facebook, you can look at the different ads that somebody’s business is up and running by looking into the page transparency. The page transparency function on Facebook gives us, the audience, a full disclosure of what a company is promoting.
For example, Artifact Uprising does a phenomenal job with ads. Here is an example of Artifact Uprising’s ad library found under their page transparency section on Facebook. You can see all the ads they’re running currently and the ones from the past.
Let’s take a peek specifically at two different ads from Artifact Uprising from May. If we look at the call to action, it’s pushing people to a landing page for their Signature Layflat Album. Same product for both ads, but different hooks.
One ad is targeting a couple; a bride and a groom that have just gotten married. The photo shows a really cute couple and the copy says that “your big day deserves only the best photo album.” We can clearly see that this ad is talking right at a couple who has just gotten married.
Now, contrast that with this family-oriented ad for the same type of photo album. This ad copy says “mark your family’s milestones in an heirloom-quality photo album that stands the test of time” and includes a photo of a happy family. This ad is definitely talking to the matriarch of the family, the mom.
Same landing page on both, same product, but one ad is showing it used as a family photo album and the other as a wedding photo album.
Different hook, different copy.
One way to try out different hooks is to try different audience angles, here are the four I like to do:
- Story-focused: I treat this one like a really super native Facebook post, one in the wild that you would see out there on anyone’s feed.
- How-to: I like a “how-to” ad where I’m treating it more like a blog post or a super value-packed, content-focused piece where they can get a ton of value just by reading the ad— maybe not even clicking anything.
- Take a stand: I don’t miss an opportunity to have a “stake in the ground” sort of an ad. I make sure that the first sentence of the ad disrupts the feed and stops the scroll. Maybe there’s a statistic or a commonly held belief that I disagree with, which can be a great lead for an ad. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion on something, especially if it’s something that you’re an expert in.
- Dealers choice: This is a free for all… The ad copy angle here is really just anything I want to play with. Ps- if you are writing this ad and it’s driving to a sales page that you don’t *quite* have laid out yet—check out my free sales page anatomy guide.
Before I ever start writing, I think about these different angles and lay them out on a Google Doc template.
Actionable Tip: I ~always~ use tables to draft ad copy. Outlining and laying out of different hooks tends to take me the most time because it involves mostly brainstorming. It’s kind of like before you start cooking, how you chop up everything and you put them in little bowls to pretend like you’re on a cooking show, mayyyybe that’s just me, but we’re getting everything laid out first.
Keep in mind: these different hooks are going to change up depending on where in the sales funnel your people are.
The entire copy of the ad depends on where people are in their customer journey when they’re being targeted.
Say they are cold traffic, they don’t know you or your business. It’s likely that the hook, ad copy, the offer, AND the offer landing page itself are going to look different.
Somebody who’s interacted with your brand, who knows your face, who has maybe even landed on this page multiple times and you’re trying to retarget them with ads.
The beauty of ads is their specificity in targeting.
So don’t try a spray and pray approach. It’s worth the extra effort to hit people *exactly* where they are in their buyer’s journey.
No. 2 | Write the bottom of the ad first
There are very few things, if ever, that I will start writing at the top. From sales pages to emails to blogs and beyond, I start writing at the offer, aka the meat and potatoes of everything. I want to focus first on what they’re actually going to get.
When you’re writing this part, write like you’re explaining the offer to a friend. People are on different apps, where you’re likely running ads, to be social and not worry about other things going on in their lives. Be conversational and go ahead and look like the native media that you’re posting within.
I think it’s so helpful to spell out the offer in layman’s terms. I like to hit the record button on my phone as I talk out something, and then I type it up. That free flow speech sometimes hits me on some better copy than anything I would spend hacking away at my keyboard on.
As you’re explaining the value of the offer, there are soooo many ways you could do this.
For example: Let’s look at the top of this funnel campaign ad. You can see the offer explanation, a call to action with the link. I gave *a little bit* more copy to explain the value of the offer. Sometimes I want the text to look as conversational and as native to Facebook as possible. I keep the bottom of the ad the same and change the top of the ad, the hook, for different versions.
Let’s look at another example, this is one from my client’s ad copy. This shows how quickly the offer and the call to action section can be. You see the copy that explains the quality of the product, “other photographers have called this the ultimate wedding photography contract”, and then a link to grab it. To learn more about how I edit ads, make sure to watch this video!
How long the middle portion of the ad should be is up to you. I have seen and tested offers that are about a sentence, a couple of sentences, and even some bullet points. It depends on what the offer is, you can test different combinations for your offer/call to action structure here.
Essentially, I want to figure out this package, one that I really like where the offer is exactly where I want it—I have the call to action telling people where to go from that ad and what to expect on the other side of the click.
After this, I roll with it into step 3.
No. 3 | Go back to those hooks and draft multiple intros
This is when I go back to those hooks that I outlined earlier and I *actually* start to draft it.
These are going to feed and lead into that second half of the ad (which I have already written) the offer and the call to action—it’s now a game of mixing and matching. I can take the bottom portion of the ad and set the story angle on top of it. OR I can try and set the stake in the ground angle on top of it.
When I’m writing ad copy, specifically the hook, my goal is to always try to make it as native to the platform as possible. I don’t want it to look like an ad.
I try to make it look like something that would belong in the newsfeed, so I write these ads like me or my client would write any sort of Facebook or Instagram post. There are absolutely times I break my own rule, but if you’re getting started writing your own ad copy…stop thinking of it so much like ad copy and just write a really dang good Facebook post. 🙂
(Still not confident in copywriting?! I’ve got something just for you—check out the video below!)
After I’ve written those five-ish hooks, I can go back and plug in that offer and call to action part to each of the bottom of these.
Now I have 5 versions that I can test on 1 campaign. Annndddd testing is the fun part. 🙂
Don’t forget that when you’re split-testing or testing anything in your business, especially as it pertains to copy, only switch up one element at a time. I know, I know, patience is a virtue, but that is how you’re going to be able to tell what actually is working, what’s making the difference, and what really had no bearing at all.
If you change up everything each time, you’ll never know what made the difference. Can you switch up and test different versions of the offer and call to action? Absolutely. BUT I have found you get more bang for your buck in ROI when you focus on changing the hooks first.
One of my favorite ad moments was in a Facebook group a couple years ago. Someone posted a screenshot and said, “Can you believe that they’re running this?” I remember thinking it was kind of weird copy, but I also looked back and saw that they’d been running this ad for a really long time, and there was so much social proof on it.
The moral: it was working for them and that’s probably why they continued to run it, no matter what somebody else’s opinion was, especially if that opinion is from someone not in the target market.
Don’t be afraid to have an opinion and try and test different things. Best practices can just be pooled ignorance at times.
Like one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: “there are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies and statistics” andddd if the stats are saying one thing, but your audience is responding to a completely different thing, then that is okay!! Do more of that—do more of what’s working!
Stats and best practices are a good place to start, but they are not the law. Go ahead, use your creativity, see what’s working, and see what your people actually respond to.
Now you know how to write those ads, but if they are leading to some sort of a launch and you need a sales page, don’t forget to grab that sales page anatomy cheat sheet that is waiting for you.
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