5 Secrets to Sound Human in your Ad Copy

jerome clavel

The best ads don’t sound like ads, but persuasive conversations. Use these tips from Jerome Clavel to create ad copy that is personal, human, and ultimately, drives your audience to trust and buy your product.

Know your customer persona

The biggest mistake that copywriters make is that they sell to a “general population” instead of a living, breathing person. That’s why the ads sound so abstract and unemotional.

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes by using customer or buyer personas. These are archetypes that represent a target segments’ key traits, including: needs and motivations, pain points and the situations in which these emerge, values and influencers, and even what kinds of media they consume.

A customer persona helps you create ad copy that addresses their needs and identifies benefits that are important to them. It also helps you plan specific campaigns for different kinds of users—so down the road, you know which of your segments are more responsive to your ads.

Avoid jargon

Your ad copy shouldn’t be a grocery list of features and technical specs. People are going to look at the words and say, “So what? I don’t know what that means, or what it can do for me.”

Instead, use layman’s terms. Show how the features can solve a problem and anticipate the questions that people may have. The Content Marketing Institute recommends focusing on the “ad’s intended effect” and work backwards: what is the one message or action that you want them to remember? What do you need to say to achieve that?

Use emotional triggers

The best ad copy creates an emotional response. It gets people to click on your ad, read it, and even share it—which is why most viral campaigns use emotional triggers to play the readers like a violin.

Hubspot, drawing on studies published in the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, says that all human emotions can be categorized into four: happy, sad, surprised/afraid, and disgusted/angry. The most shared ads tend to have happy or positive content (i.e, “the warm fuzzy feels”). But ad copy that taps on user’s fears or anger tend to drive people action, such as: “bad breath makes you unpopular” or “vitamins that help prevent heart attack”.

jerome clavel

Talk like your audience

The most authentic, human-sounding ad copy can actually be found in real user reviews. That’s because these are the actual experiences and words that your potential customers use—and the more likes a review gets, the more it resonates with others.

So spend some time looking at user forums and ecommerce sites. You’ll know what people like, hate, and what words (and emojis) to describe the product.

Be clear, not clever

A common mistake of amateur copywriters is that they try too hard to sound unique, fresh, funny, smart….but completely miss the point of the ad.

The most important quality of ad copy is that it’s clear. Pick one very concrete benefit and explain it in short, simple words.

One trick is to ask yourself, “How would I explain this product to my deaf grandmother?” Or, “If I had five seconds to convince someone in a store, what words would I use?” Your ad copy may not be witty, but it will sell the product—and that’s what really matters.

Jerome Clavel
Jerome Clavel formerly of Abbott, writes about developments in medical devices and imaging.