Why good search ads should hit you right in the “feels”

This column was authored by Sarah Burns, head of content and public relations for Boost Media.

Advertising is at its best when it forges a deep connection with the consumer. The ability to stir up positive emotions goes a long way in strengthening brand loyalty and increasing sales. But too often, brands fall back on formulaic processes and boilerplate copy that resulting in generic ads that fail to move and motivate the consumer to take action. In exchange for programmatic scale, advertisers often sacrifice the human touch.

It should be no surprise that brands see the greatest success in online ads that drive an emotional response. A recent Boost Media study on paid search copy proves that ads containing words that appeal to consumers’ emotions perform better than those appealing to vanity.

When Boost ran a side-by-side comparison of 32 different words used in a leading shopping network’s ad copy, the data team was surprised by the results. The click-through rate (CTR), which typically indicates interest in purchasing, was 50 percent greater for ads that used the word “feel” versus the word “look.” An internal and emotional connection evoked by the ad copy was more successful in driving action than one that appealed to the purely exterior benefit of looking good. In short, these consumers would rather “feel beautiful” than “look beautiful,” an idea that should resonate with a post-Dove Beauty advertising mindset.

The study also revealed that words such as “natural” and “healthy” had higher CTRs than words like “gorgeous” and “great” for products in the beauty category. As in the example above, these metrics show that consumers are more likely to show intent to purchase a product that claims it will make them feel good about their natural selves rather than help them attain an external result.

The study’s data shows the same theme again and again: Consumers are more likely to click on ads that connect with them. But search ads are often dependent upon thousands of keywords, and creating unique emotional connections with each one has been nearly impossible. Advertisers are quick to rely on powerful machines and technical platforms to solve this problem at scale. But it’s become obvious that while automation has a clear place in the advertising process, writing emotionally compelling text is a task particularly suited to writers, not machines.

The ads that were tested in this study were written by people, not assembled by computers or templates. The methodology at Boost Media stems from understanding how essential the human element is in crafting messages, and their platform leverages a curated network of professional copywriters to achieve this. Only by marrying the best of what people and machines have to offer can marketers scale while maintaining strong human emotions.

When digital messaging transcends one-size-fits-all and becomes more like an emotional one-to-one conversation appealing to the consumer’s true needs and desires, then marketers feel good about the results.

Want to learn more about how Boost Media helps top brands optimize ad creative at scale? Download the full study here.

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