Top tips for great creative design and best ad copy

So we discussed how you should decide on your offer in a previous post. Now it’s time to look at getting the best ad copy and what makes a great creative. We will concentrate mainly on email creatives with a bit of native ads and how to best grab the attention of the reader for the highest possible conversion rates.

A lot to go through then and I will do my best to keep you engaged throughout the post. If you fall asleep or don’t comment, then I have well and truly failed!

Lets start with the visuals for any creative and really try to understand what works and why. I see hundreds of creatives bursting through the C7 gates every month. 9 times out of 10 find myself asking the same question…Which blind person designed this? Seriously, there are some shockers!

Why are they shocking?

Ok, take a deep breath…

Bad grammar

Badly aligned

Too much image

Not enough text

Too many spam words

Poor html

Too long

CTA not prominent enough

Too much irrelevant information

No clear message

No image link

Not mobile optimized

….And breath!

In the 5 years I have been working with email, I am convinced that time has stood still because I am still seeing the same ratio of good vs bad being sent in. No matter how much advice we offer, the message does not seem to sink in.

Lets look at a couple of examples so I can show you what I mean…

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You will see that the example on the left has a good amount of text on first inspection. But wait, another look shows that every one of these segments is actually just one huge image. Not only is this lazy creative design, it is also going to be picked up by the top ISP’s as having an unacceptable image to text ratio and more than likely dumped in junk.

Once in there, you also have to consider that by default, most people have their images turned off when first opening an email so you need the text to do the talking. With no images, this would be a huge white box. Not exactly the most inspiring email to make me want to turn the images on!

The example on the right is a similar format and some of you may recognize the brand. It is still far too long (Over 20 deals on one email) but they have made sure that text is actually text and covered off at least that best practice guideline.

Even if you forget what the ISP’s at looking at just for a second, you have to really understand how a user interacts with ads in 2016. With the average person receiving around 90 emails a day across business and personal, you really need to make sure you stand out if you want to be noticed.

We scan, we don’t read…

Emails are scanned, not read. This means you need to cover off a few points…

CTA needs to be high up the email, before the fold

Key message needs to slam the reader in the face the second the message is opened

Emails are designed with text actually being text

A strong pre header is in place

Subject line catches the attention

Mobile is the dominant device which means you have less space to grab the reader. Make it count

Below are a few examples of emails that landed in my inbox this week. All images are how they appear on my desktop screen prior to me scrolling.

I have highlighted in the first example some good and bad points to look at. Firstly, the spacing on the phone number and opening times is poor which is not a great start. They do redeem themselves however with a good strong CTA high up the creative and a text link as well. My only slight concern is that this email is targeted and women and well, I’m not one!




The next example also does some things well and a couple not so well. What you cant see from this screenshot is that this particular communication was about 4 miles long and a actually had finger cramp by the time I got to the end! However…There are 2 strong CTA’s right at the top and a time bound message (in text) on the left hand side. These are all big thumbs up with my only slight niggle being there is no intro text so as we discussed earlier, with images turned off, there isn’t much to get excited about.





The next one is more bad than good with some real rookie errors making it a terrible creative. Apart from the fact that the entire creative looked like it had been done in paint, it had extremely poor image quality and even the CTA’s were blurred. This is actually the bottom of the creative as I had to scroll all the way down to get to a CTA.

I have picked out 4 key points that bug me the most…Firstly, the guy that is supposed to be Edwin Miles (probably a made up name) is also more than likely a male model on hundreds of financial creatives. Next up is the padding on the left hand side of which there isn’t any, the indent on the grey background on the right that just seems to cut in for no reason and lastly the date at the bottom which still says 2015.

These are all things very common with financial campaigns and I swear I have seen the same extremely attractive women on over 50 different ads now. That is one serious job hopper right there!





Lastly I wanted to highlight one that gets much of what they have done right. Although the below example is a little short on text at the top of the email, it does make up for it lower down. What I love about this creative however is that all the key selling points have been introduced early.

Click & Collect is a huge feature with online shopping now and it’s there in your face instantly. Free £5 voucher jumps out at you and it’s an image so spam filters cant pick up the word FREE. All the images and banners were clickable and then you have the ‘up to 80%’ banner right in your eye line just in case you were still unsure.

Even if I am not interested in Kickers clothes, there is enough here to make me scroll down further.

Sports Direct


sports direct


This brings me on to another very important point especially when designing an email creative. We have spoken at length about getting your key messages in early before the fold and before someone has to scroll. In reality though, when it comes to mobile, this leaves you very little room to cram in everything you want to say about your product or service

As with the example above, you need to create something that leaves people intrigued, interested and excited to see more. Unless you have an extremely small creative that will cover all points in a single view, you have to give the reader a reason to scroll. You may have the most beautifully designed creative ever. If you don’t perfect that top section, it will more than likely be wasted.

To sum up…

Getting your ad copy right is more important than most advertisers realise. You really have to understand the behaviors of the people you are trying to target and how they interact with your message in 2016. People are extremely busy, take in huge amounts of information on line and see hundreds of ads a day whether it be display, native or email.

Ad blindness has well and truly set in and as an advertiser, you have to work tirelessly to stand out from the crowd.

Is your key selling point very prominent in your message?

Have you paid particular attention to the detail in your design?

Have you considered the effects your choice of copy has on your delivery?

Are you designing for mobile first and really understanding how people view emails on a small screen?

Are your key images clickable and do you have text links?

Is your content engaging and genuine with real life examples?

Have you left the reader intrigued to know more?

I think you get the message that great creative building is not easy. To be the best, you have to take the time to perfect your craft. Look for those tiny increases in performance as they all add up.

Next up – Your landing page and user flow




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