How to Write Magnetic Ads People Actually Click: The 3 T’s of Successful Ads

Is digital advertising dead? Are the ads too expensive, the noise too great, and the competition for people’s attention too fierce? Is the ad-pocalypse upon us?

Are we doomed as marketers and ecommerce brands who rely on digital marketing for customer acquisition? Will we have to go back to radio, TV, and billboards?

If you’ve been in the digital marketing scene for a while, you are aware of the changing landscape and the fear that ad channels like Facebook and Instagram are no longer producing the results they once were. We’ve actually been discussing this in depth here.

But here’s the thing— this isn’t the first time this has happened. Over the years, it’s happened with every medium, from newspapers and magazines to radio and TV. It’s inevitable as technology and trends move forward.

Despite the inevitable ebbs and flows, it’s important for advertisers to remember that marketing always has two parts: the platform and the message.

Platforms are always changing, so you need to constantly learn, innovate and adapt to stay on top of the trends (we’ve broken down our new take on Facebook and Instagram here).

In contrast, the constant is the message, and if you’re using the right message, you’re on your way to winning. To help you out today, we’ll share our simple, winning formula for writing effective, action-oriented ads. It’s something we utilize for every brand we manage.

The 3 T’s of Action-Oriented Ads

Whether you’re writing an ad for Facebook, Instagram, or Google, or even a script for a YouTube video, you can apply the 3 T’s of Action-Oriented Ads. Try to develop your ad using these pillars independent of any ad platform, and then you can tailor them for different channels later.

The 3 T’s are:

  • Targeting
  • Type
  • Topic

Let’s break each of these down to help get your click-worthy ads flowing.

1. Targeting

First, create a persona (or several different personas) for the ideal customer you are speaking to. List what you know about their demographic information such as age, gender, profession, income, location, etc. Equally important, list their interests, including what affinities they have, what brands they purchase, what activities they enjoy, etc. You can go even deeper by thinking about their core desires and fears. Does he seek significance among his peers? Does she want to belong to a certain group? Are they afraid of change and want security? If you find you can’t answer these questions about your ideal customer, running a focus group is a very useful tool to dive into this further.

If you have multiple personas, give them each a face and a name to help keep track of them. Most brands do have at least a few different types of people they are selling to. If that’s the case for you, note that you should write ads for each of your different target audiences differently. For example, if your product appeals to both a busy mom and a college athlete, you will want to “hook” each audience differently with slightly different ad copy.

2. Type

Secondly, the next T identifies what you want the user to do— what type of action they should take. Now that you know who they are, what action do you want to create and influence? Your first reaction is likely “make a purchase”, but unfortunately that won’t work for all of your audiences in this crowded landscape. Instead, you should be driving for micro-actions that move the user down your funnel from cold through hot and to making a purchase. Therefore you should tailor each type of ad based on how familiar the user is with your brand and where they are in your funnel.

Think about your ad funnel and where this message or ad will be placed in the customer journey (if you need a refresh on how funnels work, we discuss that here). Your customer’s location in the funnel should heavily influence the action you ask them to take. For example, if they have never heard of your product, asking them to purchase is too premature— just educate them on your brand first and get them to engage further. If they’ve watched a video and visited your site this week, they’re much more likely to respond to an offer.

A few examples of different actions or objectives to consider include:

  • Increased brand awareness (simply make an impact)
  • Sign up for a newsletter or other email list
  • Share this message or ad with a friend
  • Make them laugh (or cry, or smile… create an emotion)
  • Watch a video to learn more information
  • Act on a special offer immediately

3. Topic

Finally, decide what you will say in your ad in order to cause action.

Here’s a hint we’ve found helpful: There are far too many brands that use ads to talk about themselves. A more effective approach is to put your customer at the center of the story. Our friends over at StoryBrand, do a great job of explaining this method. When writing, make the customer the hero, not your brand. For example, rather than “This is the best planner in the world”, you could say “Be equipped to live your most organized life.” Explain how your product will help the customer become their best self, tackle their to-do list, or accomplish their dreams.

As you’re writing, be sure to pay attention to the persona you’re targeting. Use a voice or style that is consistent with your brand, but also resonates strongly with their persona. Try to stir up an emotion in them that leads to movement!

A few types of ad copy we recommend testing:

  • Long copy vs. short copy
  • Funny vs. serious/practical
  • Limited and intriguing vs. very informational
  • Bold use of caps or emojis to draw attention
  • Various types of media: images, videos, gifs that draw attention

In short…

Next time you are planning copy for your ad campaigns walk yourself through this simple framework and create ads that are extremely effective:

  • Targeting: Who are you talking to?
  • Type: What type of action do you want them to take?
  • Topic: What are you saying to bring about action?

And if you’re looking for more info, we have plenty of resources on this topic to be your guide! Get started with our 7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Social Media Advertising or 5 Steps To Reach New Ecommerce Audiences.


If you’re looking for an ecommerce ad partner who can help optimize and grow your PPC advertising…

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