Top 11 Google Ad copywriting formulas
Can you fit a captivating story into a social media update, even one that’s 140 characters long?
Here’s the great news: There’s a formula for that. Many storytellers and copywriters have tested out the best intros and segues to draw readers to a piece of content. Their copywriting formulas just plain work—in blogpost intros, in social updates, in emails, and anywhere else you might happen to write online.
Here are 10 of the best ones we’ve heard. Give them a try and see how they might make storytelling a breeze for you.
- Problem – Agitate – Solve
Identify a problem
Agitate the problem
Solve the problem
You’re looking at one of the most popular copywriting formulas out there. Copyblogger calls this formula the key to dominating social media . It’s ever-present in copywriting lists and tips.
Compared to the first copywriting formula in our list, it’s nearly an identical match with only one difference: Instead of describing a life without the problem (the “After” part), PAS describes life if the problem were to persist (the “Agitate” part).
- Features – Advantages – Benefits (FAB)
Features – What you or your product can do
Advantages – Why this is helpful
Benefits – What it means for the person reading
This copywriting formula highlights one of my favorite bits of advice on writing: Focus on benefits, not features.
- The 4 C’s
Here’s one of my favorite formulas because it reminds me to stay focused on the goals of the copy and the benefits to the reader. Keep the writing clear, keep it concise, find a compelling angle to write from, and write with credibility that what you’re promising can be trusted to happen.
- The 4 U’s
Useful – Be useful to the reader
Urgent – Provide a sense of urgency
Unique – Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow unique
Ultra-specific – Be ultra-specific with all of the above
Looking for a way to write a great Twitter headline? Start here. The 4 U’s formula seems ready-made for social media. The elements of urgency and specificity fit well with the fast pace of social and the small amount of text. If you can master this one, you can expect to see great results for your social media marketing
- Attention – Interest – Desire – Action (AIDA)
Attention – Get the reader’s attention
Interest – Interesting and fresh information that appeals to the reader
Desire – Benefits of your product/service/idea and proof that it does what you say
Action – Ask for a response
AIDA is one of the most standard copywriting formulas for most any type of marketing copy. It’s been used for direct mail, television and radio, sales pages, landing pages, and so much more. Many of the below ideas will play off the elements included here.
My favorite part of AIDA: attention. With blog posts and social media, this can amount to writing an amazing headline.
- A FOREST
A – Alliteration
F – Facts
O – Opinions
R – Repetition
E – Examples
S – Statistics
T – Threes (Repeat something three times to make it memorable.)
Phew! This is a big one. You’d be hard-pressed to fit this one into a social media update. But a blog post? A landing page? Sure thing.
And for those times when you’re pinched for copy on social media, you can pull elements out of A FOREST. Post with alliteration or facts or threes. Pick one, and see how it works.
- The 5 basic objections.
- I don’t have enough time.
- I don’t have enough money.
- It won’t work for me.
- I don’t believe you.
- I don’t need it.
Chances are that a reader can easily come up with reasons not to read or click or share. Those reasons will likely fall into one of these five basic buckets . Keep these in mind as you’re writing. If you can solve all of them, wonderful. If you can solve even one, great.
- Picture – Promise – Prove – Push (PPPP)
Picture – Paint a picture that gets attention and creates desire
Promise – Describe how your product/service/idea will deliver
Prove – Provide support for your promise
Push – Ask your reader to commit
Many of these formulas involve showing someone a picture of a desirable outcome. What a great opportunity to deliver happiness to potential readers and customers! The PPPP follows up this dream with specific ways that the product/service/idea can help, along with proof that it actually does. The final step—call to action—is crucial, and it can be as simple as a short URL if you’re trying to fit this formula into a tweet.
- The Reader’s Digest blueprint
According to famed copywriter John Caples, you can take great inspiration from studying the way that Reader’s Digest articles are composed.
They are fact-packed
They are telegraphic
They are specific
There are few adjectives
They arouse curiosity.
Copyblogger’s Demian Farnworth and Jerod Morris put this formula to good use in the way they open blogposts. Here’s what they’ve learned:
- Your opening sentence should be short — even as short as one word
- The wrong quote can repel readers
- A great story begins in the chaotic middle
- You borrow liberally from your swipe file
- Sonia Simone’s 5 Pieces Every Great Marketing Story Needs.
- You need a hero
- You need a goal
- You need conflict
- You need a mentor
- You need a moral
You might pick up on some familiar threads in Copyblogger cofounder Sonia Simone’s formula . “Conflict” fits with Problem-Agitate-Solve. “Mentor” fits with the new-world vision of Before-After-Bridge. All five elements together make for great storytelling—for a blogpost, a landing page, and many more spots that support a start-to-end story.
The 3 Reasons Why
Why are you the best?
Why should I believe you?
Why should I buy right now?
This trio of ideas is an expansion on a tried-and-true question that all copywriters strive to answer: “Why?” Copyblogger’s Brian Clark has a neat way of summing all these questions up into one big ask:
Why should I buy from you at all when I understand your competition better than you do, and there’s no difference?