How & When to Use Subliminal Messages in Your Ad Copy

Writing ad copy quickly becomes second nature to the experienced paid search marketer. It tends to be one of the easiest and most straightforward components to PPC structure and strategy: Ad Copy = Messaging.

Got it.

Yet, as our industry evolves, the way we write ad copy also remains one of the few constants that doesn’t undergo a ton of change.

While we can all breathe a sigh of relief from that, it’s important to recognize that we cannot get complacent with the “easy” components of paid search. We must remain diligent in continuing to further our understanding of how to create ads that influence our target audience.

As brands and advertisers, we are often so focused on creating ad copy that covers what we want to say – but what do we want users to feel?

Subliminal messaging is defined as “psychology inadequate to produce conscious awareness but able to evoke a response.” And it can be a powerful addition to your ad copywriting arsenal.

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Here are three easy ways you can speak to consumers on a subconscious level by using subliminal messaging in your ad copy to evoke a response.

1. Create a Sense of Urgency

It’s common to see phrases such as, “Buy Now!” used in ad copy to indicate a clear call to action. The less obvious, but no less important component, can come from creating a call to action through a subliminal sense of urgency.

One way to do this is to utilize ad customizers, such as countdown customizers, which allow you to add a countdown clock to your ads.

This is perfect for creating FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when promoting an upcoming event or running a discount (whether limited time or evergreen).

Countdown customizers can be added to multiple components of an ad, including the title, text, and path.

The intention is to make the user feel as though there is a limited amount of time for them to complete the conversion process and amplify the need to not miss out on the opportunity to do so.

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I’ve found them to be especially effective through remarketing.

Another strategy is to use specific ad copy language such as “limited time,” “limited (re)stock,” “last chance,” or “highly requested.”

This, again, creates that sense of urgency that this product or promotion could run out at any moment.

This potential loss of opportunity can create the need to “buy now” that supersedes the need to plan out the purchase, wait for a better price, or more carefully consider whether it’s something they want or not.

From these two tactics, you could effectively expect an increase in CTR and in conversion rate.

2. Ad Personalization & Connectedness

Personalized ads can really speak to a consumer and help to create that feeling of connectedness with your brand that you’re trying to accomplish.

Try using keyword insertion in your ad copy, where your matched keyword, based on the user’s search query, will be dynamically inserted into your ad copy.

This is possible within the ad’s title, text, or URL path.

You can think of keyword insertion as the paid search way of mirroring someone – a common psychological tactic of copying or mirroring back to someone their verbal or nonverbal behavior to subconsciously create a feeling of familiarity and trust.

While it’s likely that you’d see an increase in CTR from this tactic, there are other added benefits to utilizing keyword insertion.

This may include better relevancy scores from the search engine algorithms, which can lead to higher quality scores and improvements in ad rank, and potentially even lower CPCs.

The inserted keyword will also appear bolded in the ad copy, immediately pulling the user’s attention to your and the part that is immediately relevant and will feel the most familiar to them.

3. Use Strategic & Intentional Language

Ensure that your ad copy language is strategic and intentional. Think about whether or not users will be more or less likely to click (and convert) with small tweaks to the wording or language you are using.

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We see the use of the “99 cent” modifier to pricing now as an industry standard and best practice (Ex. Using $19.99 instead of $20.00 for pricing).

However, there are other ways to update rhetoric to make it more enticing.

One scenario is when you’re running a promotion, such as a “50% Off” promotion in your ad copy.

While this is a great promotion, consider testing to see if using Buy One Get One (BOGO) language in your ad copy helps to improve your CTRs and conversion rates.

This may be a more incentivizing offer for consumers and comes with the added bonus for the advertiser of potentially getting the consumer to purchase more product(s) and generate more revenue with BOGO, as opposed to offering a single product at a 50% off discount.

Another example is considering the promotion itself – if it is a dollar-based discount, would a percentage-based discount seem “bigger” to a consumer, even if the actual value of the discount is the same?

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Or vice versa?

Consider what the user will be more captured by and evoke the response you’re looking for.

Key Takeaways

As you craft and/or re-evaluate your strategy for writing influential ad copy, consider subliminal tactics that evoke a response from your consumers on a subconscious level.

Whether you are attempting to create a sense of urgency or FOMO, write a personalized ad, or be intentional about how your ad copy language resonates with your target audience, don’t be afraid to get creative and test ad copy language that is outside of the norm — or at least, your norm.

Look to appeal to a sense of brand loyalty, create relatable messaging through humor, build an air of exclusivity, or even evoke a sense of nostalgia.

Ultimately, the end goal is to carefully consider who your target audience is, and what the best way is for you to influence and connect with them through 180 characters.

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