Strong creative can be a huge competitive advantage in the world of paid search. When you can pay less to get more, you’re doing something right.
The compounding factors of improved CTR, increased quality score, and reduced CPC can make a tremendous impact on performance. Ad copy testing lies at the heart of seizing this competitive advantage.
With an endless number of attributes to test, it can be a little daunting to pick a starting point. Looking for a positive impact? Here are five ad copy attributes you can test.
1. Price Points & Percentage Off
If you’re a retailer, this is must. You’re missing out big if you aren’t testing into specific price points and percent off offers.
Important: don’t make assumptions here. Test out multiple price points and percentages off to find out what will resonate with consumers. Here’s one of my favorite illustrations of why not to assume anything when it comes to price points:
A 76.5 percent CTR lift on the higher price point. We can make assumptions as to why the higher of the two price points experienced the higher CTR. Maybe the “or Less” factored in, or maybe “$39” just sounded too good to be true. Hard to say. This is precisely why we test.
2. Google Sitelinks
By now you have hopefully enjoyed the benefits of running Google Sitelinks in your ads. The presence of ad sitelinks can lift CTR by more than 30 percent.
Surprisingly, many advertisers still haven’t added these to their campaigns. Maybe they’ve tested it and found that their ads perform better without sitelinks, but this is doubtful. I haven’t seen an instance where an ad’s CTR decreased as a result of having sitelinks present.
Don’t let your sitelinks get stale. Remember to rotate in new pages to test, and test variations of the ad copy. Keep refining.
3. “Official Site”
Using “Official Site” directly following the name of the brand in the ad headline has almost always lifted CTR and reduced CPC. There is an absolute correlation between the power of the brand and the influence that “Official Site” will have on improving performance.
Recognizable brands that carry more weight will typically benefit from this. In instances where there are many affiliates competing in the space, the brand will also benefit from this tactic.
“Brand Name – Official Site” can also lift performance on non-brand terms, especially in instances where the brand is considered a leader. Depending on your account, it may be worth experimenting with this.
With the recent modification of Google displaying the root URL of the display URL within the headline, there’s been speculation that “Official Site” many not be as necessary as it once was, and those valuable headline characters can be better utilized. Sounds like another great test!
4. Sense of Urgency
Any good direct marketer understands this principle. Give consumers a reason to feel as though they should decisively take action, and they are more likely to do so.
If you’re running an offer in your ad copy – and you should be if you can – test using an end date. Here are some iterations that work well:
“Ends 6/11” – a specific end date. Drop this in the ad copy about five days prior to the end date
“Ends Monday” – test using the day of the week vs. the actual date
“Hurry!”, “Save Now”, “Ends Soon” – Even without an end date, there are ways to create that sense of urgency with the consumer
5. Extended Headline
This is another recent modification to how Google displays ads. You no doubt have seen this, and hopefully have been experimenting with it.
Ultimately Google will make the call on whether your description line #1 will be moved into the headline of your ad. While you can’t explicitly opt into (or out of) this, you can influence the probability of your ad displaying as such.
First and foremost you need to be in the premium position above the organic results. By crafting your ad so that each line of copy appears as a distinct sentence that ends with proper punctuation, you’ll at least be in a position to have your ad appear with the extended headline.
Applying some of the tactics mentioned earlier, like sense of urgency or price points, into the extended headline can help boost CTR and is worth experimenting with.
Test Your Ad Copy!
One of the most enjoyable aspects of managing paid search accounts is the ability to test, and the learning that comes from it. Curiosity, creativity, and discipline are required. With the competing priorities of so many things you can and should be doing while managing an account, ad copy testing should always remain high on the priority list.
When it comes to PPC ad copy optimization, there are generally two schools with few practitioners working both approaches.
Fresh Approachers: The school of wholesale rewrites and the testing of new approaches, alternate messaging, and creative ad copy.
Tweakers: The school of one-variable-at-a-time, refining what’s already proven to work, and making small tweaks to language.
But the good news is that you don’t have to be an exclusive subscriber to either. Enough writing and testing will show you that optimal improvement requires both approaches, though I often find a fair amount of resistance to the worth of the tweak. It’s almost as if some clients feel that small changes can only produce small results, or that it isn’t worth paying for merely “tweaked” ad copy. (Stop nodding, your neck will hurt!)
So this week, I want you to look those tweak-haters in the eyes and say:
First, it’s psychological change in the prospect, not the physical change in the ad, that’s important to results.
The question in evaluating an ad tweak is not, “how many words or phrases has the writer changed?” but “how much does the new ad improve or alter that ad’s meaning and persuasive power within the mind of the searcher?”
For example, the difference between, say, “Put money in your pocket” and “Puts money in your pocket” in terms of a headline for a metal detector, isn’t the difference of one measly letter, but the difference between an invitation for an opportunity to do some work, and a gadget that’ll seemingly do the work for you (at least on a connotative level).
Physically it’s one letter; psychologically, it’s a much bigger difference than that!
Second, if you’re not testing both fresh approaches and tweaks, you’re probably testing great approaches with inferior wordsmithing.
In other words, what’s to keep from your testing a bad execution of an optimal approach, but passing it over for a better execution of an inferior approach? Nothing! Because you’re never tweaking the execution to find out.
So if you’re not testing tweaks, it’s very likely that you’re not getting the mileage you ought to be getting out of all those “fresh approaches” you’re testing.
Taking this into account, check out the tweaked PPC ad below:
Only two words distinguish the winning ad from the losing ad:
“Enhance” vs. “Improve,”
“Fun” vs. “Scientific”
What impact do you think these minor tweaks had on improving the ad’s CTR? Five percent? Ten percent?
No, the winning ad improved CTR by whopping 30 percent because the difference between “enhance” and “improve” isn’t just a slight tweak between synonyms. After all, advertisers sell male enhancement products, not male improvement products, right? “Enhance” doesn’t imply the need for improvement, but “Improve” does.
And when you’re looking to play Brain Training Games, “Fun” is more promising than “Scientific.” Yes, you want the games to be scientifically proven, but that’s not the same thing as “Scientific” is it?
So take a tip and this week, don’t diss the tweak! Always make sure you’re cycling in both fresh rewrites and tweaks for your PPC ads to make sure they reach their optimal performance.