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Nov 05, 2000
How To

Creating Text Ads That Actually Work (Most Don't!)

SUMMARY: No summary available.
Internet marketers agree about one thing: MOST TEXT ADS STINK. At a marketing seminar recently, we handed around five pages of sample ads from text newsletters aimed at marketers for the attendees to rate on readability and responsiveness. The result? Thumbs down for almost every one.

The marketers were very vocal about what didn't please them. Advertisers who crammed copy into every single bit of space were considered the worst offenders. Ads without distinct headlines and/or clear offers were also rated very low.

The trouble is writing text email ads is much harder to do than it seems on the surface. Often companies will assign a low-level marketer or biz dev person to "dash something off" because hey, it's so short it must be easy! However, as any professional copywriter will tell you, shorter copy can be harder than long copy.

Our top tips are to write your text ad in the format that it will be seen -- use 10 point Courier font running 60 characters across (yes including spaces) and surround it on your screen with a bunch of other typing. If it fits well and stands out, your ad has a shot. One other tip -- always include the complete URL "http://" and all -- remember many just using "www." won't hotlink on some recipient's email systems!

What else works? We contacted Larry Chase who's been publishing his Web Digest for Marketers newsletter and counseling text ad writers for more than five years, for his advice:

"On newsletter ad copy: I suggest "factual selling." Use indisputable facts make your case. Words like revolutionary, best of breed, or "the leader in whatever" are seen as bombast or self-aggrandizing puffery that no one has time for.

More often than not, an ad in an email newsletter is not enough to sell someone. Rather, that ad serves as an ad for the fuller description found on a landing page or a follow up email, phone call, or fax.

One more thing. Before writing an ad, first notice how you yourself read or skim over other people's ads. Keep that in mind when contracting your ad. Remember, you're usually asking someone to stop what they're doing and ask them to flip into browser mode. It's going to have to be a very attractive proposition to get readers to respond accordingly. In short, make the ad so a enticing that even you would click on it."

Todd Kellner of ezine publisher resource network, List Universe shared some more tips with us, "Lead readers in with a visually interesting ad: staggered copy length, ASCII art characters, etc.

"Once they've made visual contact, draw them into the copy with an attention-grabbing headline. Tailor the writing style to fit the newsletter -- the word "FREE" will simply turn those reading an IT newsletter off, but it can be quite an effective strategy in a "free stuff" newsletter. I've also found that a strong call to action tends to raise the CTR significantly. A common mistake made is filling in all 7 lines/65 characters -- some of the most effective ads are the shortest and most direct."

Note: Want to read a Case Study about an agency that gathered over 1,000 sales leads from a simple email text ad?

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