Learn Scientific Advertising and Ad Copywriting

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Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising provides a solid backdrop for understanding the importance of advertising testing and refinement. But it doesn’t include detailed, step-by-step instructions for setting up and conducting advertising tests, interpreting the results, and refining advertising efforts accordingly.

Subsequent chapters teach you how to test ad copy, landing pages, and more. You’ll give yourself a strong advantage if you take the time to learn more about advertising and/or marketing testing. Here are two excellent resources:

  • Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3: Raise More Money with Direct Mail Tests by Mal Warwick (Jossey-Bass, 2003)—Systematic testing of copy, envelopes, lists, and so on
  • Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer by Bryan Eisenberg and John Quarto-vonTivadar (Sybex, 2008)—Very detailed advice and instructions on optimizing websites through testing, including more than 250 specific testing ideas

Want to prepare yourself even better for creating your first PPC campaigns? Read a book or two about promotional writing, oriented toward direct-response advertising. One such resource is the free Classified Ad Secrets e-book, which you can download from http://twurl.nl/z5oy4d.

This little gem starts out with a premise that maps very well to PPC advertising: The ad isn’t capable of selling anything. The purpose of a well-crafted ad is to evoke the following two responses in the reader:

  1. The ad seems to relate to a need or desire I have.
  2. I should take action to see whether #1 is true or false.

The book’s author wisely advises the neophyte advertiser to encourage the ad reader to request information. He describes a method for including a clever call to action in the classified ad: a phone number that’s answered by an answering machine that rattles off the benefits of whatever is being sold.

Likewise, the PPC advertiser really just wants the reader to take the next necessary step on the path toward buying or converting: click through to the website.

You can skip through the pages describing order forms, mailing lists, and postage considerations (unless you want to appreciate some of the glimpses of “the good old days” of direct-response advertising). But start to pay closer attention when you get to the section titled “How to Write Irresistible Ad Copy.” Try not to be offended by the paragraph that reads as follows:

Classified ad copy writing is a very exacting craft, not an art in the way that display advertising is. It involves following a few simple guidelines and requires little skill. That’s why daily newspapers hire school and college students to take orders—and write—for their classified section over the telephone.

Continue to skim Classified Ad Secrets, paying extra attention to suggestions for words that attract attention and motivate. You’ll also see the AIDA model, which stands for the following:

Attraction
Interest
Desire
Action

Skim the rest of the book for its wealth of examples, powerful words and phrases, as well as advice on motivating readers.

Here are a couple of other good resources that can help you prepare for the lessons and concepts to come:

  • All You Need is a Good Idea!: How to Create Marketing Messages that Actually Get Results by Jay H. Heyman (Wiley, 2008)—Describes how to create powerful marketing and advertising messages
  • The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters by Joseph Sugarman (Wiley, 2006)—Guidelines and expert advice on what it takes to write copy that will entice, motivate, and move customers to buy