I once read that good copy is like Castrol GTX for your business: even a few small drops/tweaks can transform your response rates.
There are some exceptions.
This couldn’t be more true, and this post is going to demonstrate that with Facebook ad copy in particular. Read on to look at a handful of before and after examples from the Facebook Ad Library. We’ll cover the anatomy of a Facebook ad, jump into the examples, then finish off with some tips.
Before we get into the examples, let’s first look at the different parts of a Facebook ad:
Features and benefits are a staple in marketing. The benefits are the “why” (why you should read/buy/upgrade/etc) and the features are the “how” (how you’ll get the benefit).
In the Facebook ad example below, the ratio of peanut butter (benefits) to jelly (features) is making this sandwich just a tad too sweet. We read:
Feature Fest ’22
Yes, for some products where (a) the benefits are more obvious, (b) the demand is already there, and/or (c) the targeted audience is closer to the bottom of the funnel, feature-focused copy is okay. And that could be the case with this ad. Even still, purchase intent is lower on Facebook so it’s a good idea to include at least one benefit to balance things out.
Ah, that’s more like it. In a different Pregnancy+ App ad, we read:
Now I have a reason to be interested in this app (to be ready for my baby). And the features (health and wellbeing tips, body changes, baby development, and more) help explain how I’ll attain this benefit. And the headline is not only a clear call to action but it also nicely incorporates social proof for added appeal.
Every brand needs to have established core values, regardless of whether you talk about them in your ad copy. But for industries where trust is a major factor, like home services, real estate, and healthcare, this is the way to go. People are more attracted to safe and traditional here than disruptive and edgy.
The dentist ad below for a free new patient exam has the right idea—to share its philosophy and personal messages from each dentist. But there is so much focus on values that the offer hardly stands out.
While this is decent marketing copy, it’s a lot of primary text for a scrolling Facebook user (Facebook recommends 125 characters) and better suited for an about us page. (But I will say, an experiment by Ad Espresso shows that long copy can actually be successful in some scenarios, so maybe that was the case with this ad.)
And as mentioned above, the true offer (free new patient exam) and call to action (book an appointment) get drowned out by the second call to action (to welcome the new dentists) which is emphasized in the primary text and ad creative.
🔑 Takeaway: Long primary text works in some cases, but you’ll want those first 125 characters to be compelling-enough copy to get the user to tap the ol’ “Read more.”
This copy is much better! The primary text distills all 213 words in the above Facebook ad copy into just 19:
The compact primary text and catchy tagline convey those values just as effectively and it’s now clear through the creative that there’s a new patient special.
The only problem now is that the special isn’t clear. Is it the in-office dental savings plan? Or something different? Pair this primary text and creative with the headline and description above, and this Facebook ad copy would be
🔑 Takeaway: Facebook ad headlines are not the focal point of the ad as with Google ad copy. The creative is the focal point, so it either needs to convey the message of the ad on its own; or be intriguing enough to get someone to read the headline.
Features and benefits are great, but speaking to the pain points in your ad that they solve is even better. This is where emotional copywriting thrives.
The intended message for this TurboTax (TT) Facebook ad is a good one: TT is empowering you to say no to the pain point of waiting on the IRS for your tax refund. But without the primary text, it doesn’t come through clearly.
This could just be me, but here’s where I get tripped up:
🔑 Takeaway: If you’re going to incorporate pain points into your ad, apply the pain-agitate-solution copywriting formula to drive that pain point home.
Another version of this ad focuses less on the pain point and more on the benefit: up to a $4000 cash advance on your refund.
Here, the benefit is loud and clear but the “Don’t wait!” still doesn’t convey the feature of speed. The description is also much better (in my opinion). While it doesn’t have the social proof of the version above, it’s quicker and more memorable.
🔑 Takeaway: It all comes down to testing. I have no doubt that a major brand knows what it’s doing with its ads. These ad variations wouldn’t exist if they didn’t get results, so clearly, TT is doing its Facebook A/B testing homework.
I have nothing against TT so I wanted to throw in a solid example of Facebook ad copy all around. In this ad for its TurboTax Premier, we read:
From this ad we can easily infer the pain point (filing taxes with investments), the solution (TurboTax Premier), and the action (get the app).
Speaking of “Don’t wait, act now!”—urgency is another copywriting staple, not just for Facebook ads. Even the subtle difference between “Install” and “Install now” can make a significant difference in performance.
The exclamation points in this real estate Facebook ad example give off a touch of urgency, but it could be stronger.
You can add exclamation points to anything and give it more urgency. What’s missing here is the why. Why do I need to buy a home now?
🔑 Takeaway: This is a side takeaway, but you’ll notice that while there is long primary text in this ad, the first paragraph gets to the point immediately and then provides supporting details in the next one—a nice copywriting technique.
Now we’re talkin:
This ad creates a nice clockwise reading flow.
The STOP message is urgent all on its own—no exclamation point needed. And now we have the why:
In addition, the “STOP” leads your eye straight to the fear-based headline. Which then naturally shifts over to the “rates are low” reason, and then if the ad has your attention, you’ll get to the supporting primary text. It’s a nice flow.
Given (1) how powerful online reviews are and (2) the fact that testimonials are basically reviews on steroids, testimonial ad copy is the way to go.
So I love this business’s approach with using a real customer and a DIY video (gives it more of a human and trustworthy feel), but I take issue with a few things. The ad reads:
Problem #1: There is no testimonial ad copy. Yes, you’d hear it in the video, but you need captions or text overlays. Not only do 80% of Facebook users watch ads with the sound off, but also, the text overlay aids in memorability. I’m more likely to remember that this customer’s name is Shasta than anything she’s saying in the video. Same with you?
Problem #2: The primary text is cookie-cutter generic copy. The “experience, dependability, and commitment to 100% satisfaction guaranteed” could be more authentic with either more interesting words or simply more details like “65 years of experience” or “4.8 star rating.”
🔑 Takeaway: Replace or modify generic words to write more credible ad copy and if you have a video, make sure its message can be conveyed without the sound on.
Now this is the way to do it. The primary text here is three customer review quotes. Nothing special, but much more effective than the generic statement in the above version.
Now the only problem is this Facebook ad creative. Smiling faces and high-quality images are good but the lower-quality video in the first ad is more real. And the headline still gives credibility but it’s less friendly and the 65 years feels stronger. Use this version’s primary text in the previous example, and we’d have a great Facebook ad.
Repetition is a psychological copywriting technique based on the mere exposure effect (and also common sense), but there’s a right and a wrong way to do it.
No mistake here. There is no “before” version because SoFi nails repetition in both of these Facebook ad examples. In this first one, we see perfect implementation of overt repetition in the ad’s creative:
Want to bypass the fees?
No origination fees.
No pre-payment fees.
No late fees. No joke.
The fly swatter in the image even has the word NO in it.
The repetition of “no” here helps make SoFi’s value proposition crystal clear while also lending to the ad’s tone of empowering the customer. It just wouldn’t have the same feel if it had been written like this:
No origination, pre-payment, or late fees.
With SoFi, you can bypass:
Would you agree?
🔑 Takeaway: If you’re going to use repetition, go all-in so that it makes a bold statement rather than appearing uncreative or lazy.
So there’s redundancy, when repetition feels unnecessary or lazy, and then there’s consistency, when repetition is artfully done. And SoFi comes in for the win with this second no-fee Facebook ad example.
This ad tells you you won’t have to pay fees in seven different ways. Seven creative ways, like:
Kick unnecessary fees out
The Zero Fees Move.
Say goodbye to being fee’d.
These are interesting words (more on that in our headline examples post) that once again strengthen the empowering and bold feel of the ad.
Aside from the takeaways above, I’ll leave you with some additional ingredients for writing great Facebook ads.
As CopyKooks said, a few small drops and tweaks to your ad copy can make a big difference in performance—just like engine oil for a car. Use these before and after examples to see what you could tweak and test to come up with your own great Facebook ad copy!
Kristen is the Senior Managing Editor at WordStream, where she helps businesses to make sense of their online marketing and advertising. She specializes in SEO and copywriting and finds life to be exponentially more delightful on a bicycle.
See other posts by Kristen McCormick
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