How to write proper mobile app ad copy

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Olivia Doboaca
How to write proper mobile app ad copy

Table of Content:

  1. Setting the scene
    • Using the right tools
  2. On inspiration and copy that converts users better
    • Finding the right message
  3. Doing some old-fashioned competitor research
  4. Reading material
  5. App Store and ad platform specifics
    • Platforms
  6. Afterword
  7. FAQ

Here's a fun fact: an app can have all the features in the world, but if the marketing (and ad!) copy is as dull as a dishwasher manual, it's going nowhere. This is more than just grammar and spelling—getting this right will help convince the users to hit that BUY button. Buckle up for a no-nonsense ride through the mobile app copywriting zone.

Setting the scene

Words connect users to your app. They guide, they sell, they inform, and in the mobile world, you've got like, what, two seconds to grab someone's attention? It’s a tough challenge for sure.

You're competing with every notification, every text, every cat video that pops up on a user's phone. Your words need to be sharp, quick, and to the point. No fluff, no filler. Just straight-up, easy-to-digest, engaging content. Here's another thing—screen space. You've got a tiny window to say what you need to say. Every word has to earn its place on that screen. You can't waste space with jargon.

There are 5 key areas you need to nail in your mobile app copywriting:

  • Clarity: less is more. Get to the point, and do it fast.
  • Engagement: your words should be a warm handshake. Formal copy is boring.
  • CTAs: clear, compelling, and hard to resist. Numbers, benefits, try it now!
  • Brand voice: whether it's professional, quirky, or somewhere in between, keep it consistent.
  • UX: even your error messages should be on point. They should help, not frustrate.

Using the right tools

You could be the Shakespeare of app copywriting, but you're still gonna make typos. It happens. But, you can prepare for that.

First up, we've got Grammarly. It checks for grammar, spelling, and even tone. Then, there's the Hemingway App. This one's all about making your writing clear and bold, and works great for longer texts.

Don't rely on them for everything, though. Use your brain first, your tool second. Start by writing your draft. Just let it flow. Grammarly will catch the silly mistakes, the typos, the "oops, I didn't mean to say that" moments. But don't lose your voice to them.

You’ll need it because people have zero patience. If your app's copy is riddled with errors, they're out. They'll think, "If they can't get their copy right, what else are they messing up?" It's harsh, but true.

On inspiration and copy that converts users better

First things first, staying creatively charged isn't some magical, mystical process—keep your eyes open and your brain engaged. Let's break it down:

  • Tools: things like mind mapping software, writing prompts, even random word generators. They might sound silly, but sometimes, the weirdest inputs lead to the best outputs. You can also try ChatGPT or any other LLM—these days they’re quite powerful, but it do it very carefully: ChatGPT copy is already quite easy to spot in the wild.
  • Collaborate: two heads are better than one, right? Bounce ideas off colleagues, friends, or even strangers on the internet. You never know where a great idea might come from.
  • Feedback: why? Because these are real, unfiltered insights into what your users want. Pay attention to what they're saying. What do they love? What do they hate? Use this info to tweak your copy.
  • Analytics: your best friend. Learn what's working and what's not as you go, down to the last comma. Use this data to guide your writing. If something's not hitting the mark, change it.
  • Examples: case studies, examples, success stories—all can be something to inspire from. Look at apps that are killing it in your space. What are they doing right? How are they talking to their users? What makes their copy so dang catchy? Take a look at apps like Slack, Airbnb, or Duolingo. Their copy is crisp, clear, and has personality for days. They know their audience, and they speak their language—literally and figuratively.

Finding the right message

Let’s shift toward the real topic of this article.

People don't click ads for their artistic merit. They click because they want something, a problem solved. Your ad copy should mirror this goal. Think about what the user wants to achieve and write your ad copy to appeal directly to that desire.

For instance, a Carvana ad for "sell my car" nails it. The headline is spot on. They sweeten the deal in the second headline, offering to pick up the car, and the description seals it with the promise of simplicity. Also, “technowizardy”! It’s relatable and fun.

To grab attention, cut the fluff, and get straight to the point, throw in some numbers or stats in your headlines. Use numbers that make sense and don't raise more questions than they answer. You don't want prospects doubting your product's quality before they even click your ad.

Using psychology in copywriting is a true way to go. People can be self-centered. It's a powerful tactic, especially in emotionally charged situations. Emotional triggers, be they positive like affirmation and humor or negative like fear and anger, can drive people to action.

Positive emotional triggers, though trickier due to their subjective nature, can also be compelling. For instance, an ad using aspirational language for a sensitive topic like body image can stir prompt clicks.

Display URLs are often overlooked but can make a big difference in your ad's success. They should be relevant to your ad copy and contain your top keywords. This helps even if your destination URL doesn't include those keywords.

Google's expanded text ads allow for more characters, but not all of this will show on smaller devices. So, load your best copy in the first two headlines and the first description line to ensure you're always delivering compelling messages, regardless of device size.

Address potential objections upfront in your copy, especially concerning cost and hassle. For example, an ad for affordable home insurance placing "$59" right in the headline directly addresses cost concerns.

Doing some old-fashioned competitor research

You have to properly understand the landscape, learn from others, and then do your own thing, but better. Here’s how:

  • Identify: who are you up against? Big fish? Little fish? Look around. Use AppFollow. It's great for tracking what's happening in your niche. See who's launching what, who's updating, who's getting good reviews, and who's tanking.
  • Study: how are they talking to their users? What's their tone? Snappy? Formal? Friendly? Look at their headlines, their calls to action, their onboarding process.
  • Compare: what's working for them? What's not? Maybe their user interface copy is a hit, or maybe their error messages are a complete disaster. Remember, however, that your audience might respond differently.
  • Adapt: don't fall into the trap of imitation. Use your insights to fuel innovation in your own copy. How can you take what's working for others and spin it in a way that's uniquely you?
  • Launch: use what you've learned to refine your approach. Then, test it. See how your audience reacts. Are they engaging more? Are they using your app longer? Keep an eye on your own metrics and be ready to pivot if needed.

Reading material

You gotta read, and read the right stuff. Let's break 'em down:

"The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White

You've probably heard of this one. It's like the Bible of writing. Short, sweet, and to the point. It's all about clarity, brevity, and getting rid of all the fluff. This book is old-school, but man, it's still so relevant, especially in the mobile app world where every word has to count.

"On Writing Well" by William Zinsser

This is another classic. Zinsser's big on the art of plain talk. He teaches you how to write clearly, how to cut unnecessary repetition, and get to the point. In the mobile app space, where you've got like a nanosecond to grab someone's attention, this is the best thing you can learn.

"Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug

This one's more about web usability, but it's super applicable to app copywriting too. It's about making things easy for users, not making them think too hard. This book will help you write copy that's intuitive for users and doesn’t make them sacrifice whatever brain processing power they still have left at the end of a workday.

Besides books, there are tons of online resources. Blogs, articles, webinars, the works. Sites like Copyblogger or The Copywriter Club are great places to start.

App Store and ad platform specifics

Now let’s see how it all fits together in the app stores and ad platforms.

Your app's title is the first thing people see. It's got to be catchy, but also clear. No room for confusion here.

Then, there's your description. This is where you tell your app's story. Keep it short: No one's gonna read a novel. Use bullet points, short sentences, and get to the point fast.

Keywords will help people find your app later. Stuffing your description with keywords is like over-salting your food, though—it's just gonna ruin it. Be strategic.

Platforms

Let’s start with Google.

Google campaigns

  • Text ideas: you get up to four text ideas for your ad, and each can be up to 25 characters long. This is not a lot of room, so make every word count.
  • Images: these need to be attention-grabbing. You've got a bunch of sizes to play with, from landscape (1200 x 628 px) to square (250 x 250 px) and more.
  • Videos: Google Play loves video ads. They should be 30 seconds or less, and remember, many people watch without sound, so visuals are key.
  • HTML5 assets: These are for interactive ads, and they come with their own set of specifications.

Apple Search Ads

Apple's approach is a bit different—an integration into the user's search experience on the App Store. Here's what you need to know:

  • Basic format: it’s more automated. You don't get to write custom copy; instead, Apple uses your app's existing metadata and creatives. So, make sure your app store listing is top-notch.
  • Advanced format: This gives you more control. You can target specific keywords, demographics, locations, and more.

Character limits and metadata

  • Title: limited by your App Store listing, usually up to 30 characters.
  • Subtitle: dictated by your App Store listing, with a 30-character limit.
  • Description: pulled from your App Store listing, so you've got more room here (up to 4,000 characters), but remember, only the first few lines show up in the search ad.

Let’s rehash what you need to be doing while preparing copy:

  • You've got limited space, especially in text ideas for Google Play or the title and subtitle in Apple Search Ads. Choose words that pack a punch.
  • Focus on benefits, not features—they tell the user what they'll get out of your app, not just what it does.
  • Even with limited space, make it clear what you want the user to do in your CTAs— "Download now," "Start your trial," etc.
  • Use A/B testing to see what works and what doesn’t. Even small changes can make a big difference.

Afterword

Without compelling copy, your app's going nowhere, no matter how good it is. Remember, it's all about being clear, engaging, and direct—no beating around the bush. For competitor research, do take advantage of AppFollow—it’ll make it a trivial task. Good luck!

FAQ

What is mobile app copywriting?

Mobile app copywriting is the process of writing compelling text for mobile app ads. It directly influences user engagement and persuades users to take actions like downloading. Good copywriting in mobile apps can significantly improve app visibility, user retention, and conversion rates.

What tools can be used for mobile app copywriting?

Grammarly helps in correcting grammar and spelling mistakes, ensuring the text is error-free. Hemingway App aids in making the copy clear and concise. These tools collectively enhance the readability of app copy.

Is user psychology important in app copywriting?

Tapping into emotional triggers and aligning the copy with user goals and behaviors leads to higher user engagement and conversion rates.

What is competitor analysis for mobile app copywriting?

It helps in identifying successful strategies and common pitfalls in the niche. By analyzing competitors’ copy, you can find opportunities to differentiate the messaging and potentially discover untapped market needs.

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