Ads 101: What really makes an advertisement convert?

Having the key components of a converting ad is more difficult than it seems. Essentially, you are tapping into your customer’s psychology with piece of content and text.  

So when it’s all said and done, what makes a good front-end advertisement?  

The creative  

“Creative” describes the visual component of an ad. This can be an image, video, multiple images etc.  

Social media platforms emphasize the importance of this moreso than PPC ads, as it is interruptive style marketing.  

Facebook Ad Example

Google Ad Example

When you are scrolling though Facebook or Instagram, chances are the advertisements you have stopped to glance over for more than a few seconds captured your attention in a creative (no pun intended) way.  

- Someone clapped their hands at you in a video and told you stop scrolling. - An image with an enticing background appeared. - An unusual pattern or color scheme had you do a double take. 

Image vs Video 

With pros and cons to both, there are some key rules to keep in mind when setting up your campaign.


1. Guidelines/Policy - It is important your creative is compliant with the platform's terms. Taking a moment to read carefully over the advertisment guidelines is higly recommended, as your ad account may likely be flagged and potentially shut down for violating their terms. Violation terms differ from channel to channel, but often refer to advertising of drugs, explicit content, before and after photos, personal attributes and health claims, and more.

2. Personal Photos - Authentic photos typically outperform stock photos. While stock images look "beautiful" and "professional," they are also over-played in the marketing industry. 

3. Emotion - Is your image enticing? Get an honest opinion from a friend/family member if unsure. Editing a photo with the call to action text present or using lines and shapes to gain attention can be a really effective tactic to enhance your ad.


(Image Spice: The call to action text is not only in bright yellow, but inside a grey block to accentuate the focal point of this photo.)


1. Length - Depending on the situation, videos between 45 sec. - 3 min seem to be the sweet spot for engagement. Anything longer and you'll likely find attention rate to drop pretty drastically; anything shorter than 45 sec and you risk not getting your message conveyed.

2. Target Video Views - Facebook makes video campaigns a great choice as you can target people who watch 50% or more of your video, 75% or more, 95% or more etc. Use this function to qualify your leads based on how much of the video they completed.

3. Captions - Having captions and subtitles in your finished video is a smart decision, especially if there is narration, as much of your audience will watch the video on mute (videos in the feed automatically play on mute unless you actually click the video.) Don't let important messaging get lost in your video campaign!

Ad Copy  

The actual text that supplements your creative is known as ad copy. Copywriting is a skill that takes time to master, but there are some key components to set you on the right track.  

Persuasion in marketing


The core behind every advertisement is to persuade your customer into doing an action (call, submit info, download etc.) With multiple approaches to consider, what actually drives that individual to become a conversion?  


Every effective ad addresses an individual’s pain.  

There’s a famous quote in marketing that goes, “People don’t buy their way into something; they buy their way out.”  

When writing your copy, make sure you discuss why they need your product/service, how their life will be enhanced, and how their life will be negatively impacted if they don’t attain your product/service.  

Call to Action

Does your ad tell people what action to make? It amazes me how many businesses compromise the results of their ads by not telling the visitor what EXACT action to take.  

It’s true… You do have to hold your customers hands through the buying process.  

If you have a “Download Now” button, tell your audience to tap “Download Now!”  

If you have a “Call Now” button, tell your audience to tap “Call Now!”  

It doesn’t seem like such small instruction would noticeably impact a campaign, however a simple change like this will likely improve your conversion percentage.  

The Offer  

The one question your customers will always be asking themselves before they opt into anything this, “What’s in it for me?”  

This is where creating a compelling offer is absolutely crucial for any advertisement campaign; particularly to cold traffic (*link to “cold traffic vs warm traffic* article).  

Sales strategies such as 7 day free trials, giveaways and freebies are some of the most powerful ways of acquiring new customers. Consumers love free stuff; business owners hate giving away free stuff. Here’s why business owners are in the wrong…  

Take look at multi-billion dollar companies like Netflix who still adopt the model of a “30 day free trial.” They don’t continue to run this discount because they want people to take advantage of their platform for 30 days. Though that is what new sign ups are doing, they’re really getting a chance to build trust with the service and have a positive user experience on their platform: Something that this person may have never experienced had they been asked to pay full price up front.  

Netflix, along with many other successful businesses, understand the concept of trading front-end value for back-end value to acquire subscribers.  

Can you win over customers with your product/service? If so, what are you willing to trade to acquire them?

Ad Navigation - Landing Page vs Website

Your lead has made it to this point.

They saw your ad - Something about it enticed them to click on it and now they are ready to inquire about your product or service. They click on the button to make the next step and get brought to your web page...

The real question: Is this page actually capturing your leads?

What is a landing page?

Simply put, a landing page is a web page specifically created to convert a lead. Often, these pages are very minimalistic. Though simple, it makes the sales process for your visitor effortless; hence why they are so effective at creating conversions.

(Mobile view of a landing page for a tree service business)

Can I use my website for campaign linking?

The biggest mistake I see with online advertisers - particularly with PPC advertisers - is bringing their traffic to their website which is not optimized for conversions and wondering where all their leads are going.

Assuming you have a website with what I call the 'portfolio style' where you're essentially showcasing "your process," "meet the team," "About me" etc. and other likely tabs, you would be better off creating a separte page dedicated to ONE service/offer and that's it.

If your website IS optimized for conversions with lots of buttons to opt in or contact you, then you can absolutely have success directing traffic to your website.

"What if I don't have a website or landing page? Can I still advertise my business?"


Social media channels like Facebook and Instagram have made campaign options to capture prospects' lead information all through their platform, making this super convenient if you don't have a website/landing page.

Google Ads, on the other hand, is a different story. This platform requires a link to web page to direct your paid traffic.