All clickthroughs are not created equal. Yet, that's a common assumption by almost every pay-per-click (PPC) advertiser. That mistake could be costing you sales while also inflating your advertising budget. There are quality clickthroughs and generic ones, and knowing the difference can be paramount to your campaign's success.
Relevancy is king in the world of PPC. The more general the keyphrases, the higher your tendency to attract virtual tire kickers. One reason for this may be because people typically begin their online searches using general terms that grow more specific as they determine precisely what they want. This follows the logical progression of an average buying process.
When people start searching for a product or service, they have already recognized a need and thus entered the information-gathering stage of the buying process. They are attempting to survey the marketplace to find precisely what they want. As they progress, they clearly define the attributes that best fulfill their original need. Lastly, they shop for the best price, most convenient location or other determining factors for making their buying decision.
Although variations occur throughout the process, most searches and purchases follow this basic format. It's your job as a PPC manager to grab the attention of your prospects at the right moment during the buying process, thus maximizing your ROI. By utilizing effective PPC copywriting, you can attract those browsers who are ready and most qualified to buy.
Relevant Keywords Deliver More Clicks Highly descriptive, long-tail keywords in organic search results that lead to a specific landing page convert better than their generic counterparts. For example, if a user searches "long sleeve white men's dress shirt" and gets a result linked to that exact item, the chance of conversion is much higher than if the same user searched "men's shirts" and was directed to a home page of a large retail website. The same holds true in PPC.
It's easy to see the difference between the following keyphrases:
From as far back as the days of Overture.com, it's been noted that PPC ads with keywords in the headlines receive higher clickthrough rates than those without. Knowing this, you can see the importance of conducting some keyword research before writing your ads. Then, when you write your ads, make every effort to use keywords in your headline copy. Naturally, the keywords will then determine the general subject matter of the ads.
If your goal is to get the highest clickthrough rate (CTR) possible, general keyphrases are more likely to deliver. However, if you hope to receive more qualified clicks with a greater tendency to convert to sales, choose more specific search terms to target.
Negative Copy Boosts Qualified Clickthroughs Usually the word "negative" isn't something you want to associate with profit. But this form of PPC copywriting can be an effective way to get some of the most qualified leads. Using negative (or filtered) copy can help deter unqualified or lesser-qualified searchers by eliciting a negative reaction.
The idea is to prequalify the prospect by offering details in your copy. If they realize that the offer doesn't fit their needs immediately, you save money by preventing superfluous clicks on your paid ad.
Elements that make good filters/negative language include:
- locations - colors - prices - dates - sizes
You can also combine several elements of negative language in a single ad. Below are two examples from travel industry to help illustrate the use of negative copy. Here's a typical example of an ad written to bring in the most clicks, or the highest CTR:
Technically speaking, there's nothing wrong with this ad. It would certainly be worth testing. In fact, chances are it would receive a high number of clickthroughs. But, would it prequalify visitors to your site? Probably not.
Because of the vague language of the ad, searchers need to click to your landing page to get details. Once there, they might discover that the cruise:
- is 14 days long - departs only from New York City - returns the day after Christmas - visits cities they've already been to - costs too much
In any of those cases, you paid for someone to click your ad that stood no chance of actually booking a cruise. And that's a true waste of money. Let's look at an ad with negative, or filtered copy.
Before the prospect ever gets to your landing page - or clicks on your ad - they must already:
- be available on the specified dates - want to go to the cities listed - be able to depart from New York City - be able/willing to spend $2,500 per person
This site visitor is already closer to the buying process just by reading your ad - a truly qualified prospect worthy of the cost of their click.
How Will This Affect Quality Score? You might wonder, isn't reducing the number of clickthroughs to my site going to also reduce my Quality Score in Google?
Until recently, the answer would have been an unequivocal "yes." However, Quality Score has been revamped and, according to Google, the changes should have a positive effect on ads.
In their AdWords Blog, Google states, "Most importantly, we are replacing our static per-keyword Quality Scores with a system that will evaluate an ad's quality each time it matches a search query. This way, AdWords will use the most accurate, specific, and up-to-date performance information when determining whether an ad should be displayed. Your ads will be more likely to show when they're relevant and less likely to show when they're not. This means that Google users are apt to see better ads while you, as an advertiser, should receive leads which are more highly qualified."
In the blink of an eye, Google will assess all the factors associated with its Quality Score in comparison to each and every search query. Google will evaluate:
- keyword relevance - ad text relevance - landing page relevance - clickthrough rate - landing page load time
As you can see, clickthrough rate is still an issue. But Google claiming that leads should be more highly qualified as a result of the new Quality Score calculation is also an indication that relevancy will be rewarded. However, even if your Quality Score should fall slightly, would that be so bad? More importantly, would better qualified prospects be worth the dip in Quality Score? Like most strategies, you will need to test that and see for yourself.
In many instances, it's more cost-effective to pay more per click for highly targeted leads that convert quickly than to pay less per click for generic leads that may never convert. Obviously, it will greatly depend on the cost of ads in your particular PPC campaigns. Remember, not all clicks improve your bottom line. The next time you evaluate your PPC copy, don't get too excited just because you see a high percentage in your CTR column. After all, while clickthroughs are exciting, qualified clickthroughs are profitable. And that's the name of the game.
About the Author: Karon Thackston is President of Marketing Words, a copywriting agency specializing in creating natural-sounding search engine optimized copy.