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5 tips for writing compelling copy for online automotive ads

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on December 18, 2018

In the past several years, there’s been a surge in digital advertising spend in the automotive industry. And eMarketer forecasts that consistent, double-digit growth in digital ad spending will continue through 2021.

Yet all too often, dealerships treat the copy in their advertising as an afterthought. They toss in a few keywords, check the grammar, and hit publish. But copy is important—words matter!—and it should be treated that way.

We’ve put together some of the top tips for writing ad copy to help your dealership get the greatest ROI from online ads.

Know (and understand) your audience

The real work of writing effective ad copy happens before you even begin typing. That’s because you need to have a solid understanding of who your audience is to create effective and engaging copy that pushes them closer to making a purchase. Do some homework to learn who your audience is—and what’s important to them. As you research, consider questions like:

  • Who am I writing for? Hint: it’s not just “car buyers.”
  • How does my audience think?
  • What is their biggest problem?

When you drill down into who your audience is, you’ll be able to better understand their needs and tailor your copy to better serve them.

Keep it simple

You have a limited number of words to make your point—and help consumers envision themselves behind the wheel of one of your cars—so make them count. Focus on one message and immediately tell your prospects what your headline promises. For example, “Lease New 2018 Toyota RAV4 XLE | $300/Mo For 36 Mo. Ends 12/31″‎ is simple and tells customers everything they need to know. By getting to the point, you’ll keep people interested and build their desire to learn more about your dealership.

While it might be tempting to get creative and pack some car puns into your copy, you can’t forget the goal of your ad: make the sale.

Optimize for mobile

According to a CarGurus survey, 25% of car shoppers use only a mobile device for auto research and an additional 33% use both desktop and mobile devices.1 Plus, nearly half of all CarGurus shoppers say they use their smartphone to research prices while on the lot.2 This makes it clear: car shoppers are on mobile, and if you want to get them to your lot (and keep them there), you need to create ads that speak to the mobile user. Consider making the following adjustments to your ads:

  • Write strong headlines to grab attention: On average, five times as many people read the headline as the body copy. Fill your headline with your most important information and CTAs that will drive traffic to your dealership. But don’t overfill it! As we said above, simple is better.
  • Use ad extensions: With ad extensions through Google Adwords, you can show extra information about your dealership, like an address, phone number, or links to specific pages on your website. These extensions make your ads stand out and can help you drive more appointments and dealership visits.
  • Include numbers: Featuring prices and special offers in your ads can help a car shopper decide whether they’re willing to click or not. Including this type of information gives consumers what they want and helps qualify your audience by weeding out the shoppers who aren’t ready to make a purchase at that price.

Experiment with your calls-to-action (CTAs)

The call to action (CTA) is a critical part of your ad because it invites consumers to take a desired action, like visit your website or schedule a test drive. Without this invitation, you can’t expect your ads to get any clicks.

While “Call Now,” “Schedule a Test Drive,” and “Buy Today” are standard CTAs that work well, don’t be afraid to appeal to a car buyer’s emotions. Buying a car is oftentimes an emotional decision, and CTAs like “Get behind the wheel of your dream car” or “Apply now for your instant approval” can capitalize on their interest and desire to buy one of the cars you’re selling.

Test, test, and test again

Long copy versus short copy? Emoji or no emoji? Top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, or bottom-of-funnel messaging?

The only way to find out what works best is to test different versions of your ad copy. Try appealing to different emotions, using different CTAs, varying images, or testing the frequency of your ads. Because there’s no one-size-fits-all ad copy formula, testing and iterating are crucial in order to create winning ads with high ROI.

It’s not easy: writing captivating ad copy that compels shoppers to click requires a significant amount of research and time. But dealers who put the time and effort in will see higher engagement, generate more high-quality leads, and increase ROI.

1CarGurus Consumer Survey, Nov 2017, n=1,884
2CarGurus Consumer Survey, Sep 2016, n=2,000
Topics: advertising copy, digital marketing, Marketing tips