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8 Ad Copy Testing Tips for Cost-Effective PPC Campaigns

Posted on 3.26.2015

:: By Aby League ::


According to a meta study run by Google and Ipsos MediaCT, search advertising has a powerful effect on branding. A practitioner should be keep this in mind to avoid being guilty of committing the common mistakes in testing pay-per-click ads and getting dismal results. He may have made a habit of pausing ads within the first couple of days or maybe he is not running ads long enough to see significant results. He may be guilty of leaving Google’s default rotation settings on or he’s not comparing top versus side performance. If this is the case, then it’s time to get a refresher course in getting PPC ad copies a much-needed boost.

If a practitioner has been in the PPC business long enough, he should already know how important testing is. If not, then here’s a gentle reminder. “Test, don’t guess” should be the mantra to be followed by all PPC practitioners. They will never know what’s going to work and what works best if they don’t do A/B testing ad copy. Even small tests can have profound effects on their PPC campaigns. It doesn’t have to be perfect either. For example, a terrible landing page can yield increased profits with minimal tweaking, which should inspire them to do more and get the results they want.

This applies to PPC ads as well. Slight changes to an ad can produce amazing results in the form of click-through-rates. Simple tweaks in wording can make the difference in CTR.

Vigilant testing of ad copies is essential in driving the converting kind of traffic to the website. Doing Google AdWords copy testing the right way can improve the Google Quality Score, which reduces cost-per-clicks and gain the edge from the competitors. A practitioner needs to get his ad to stand out by creating messages that can produce high click-through-rates while maintaining competitive conversion figures.

Here are some of the top tips that every practitioner needs to remember when testing PPC ads: 

1. Include the search query in the ad copy

This makes the ad more relevant to users since it includes what they are looking for exactly. It can do wonders for the quality score as well. Since the search queries (like SEO services below) appear in boldface on the search page, it stands out and can improve the click-through-rates. 

2. Check out what competitors are using

Track ad copy variants using Google Analytics. A practitioner should look at the competitors’ paid search ads and check if they are using claims or prices that are better than his. If what they offer is more competitive, he should consider using a different unique selling proposition instead of competing with what they are currently using. In this case, he may need to try something different in order to stand out and be noticed.

3. Take advantage of a strong brand

If the brand is strong enough, why not place the brand name on the headline and within the body of the ad copy? If the brand happens to use other marketing channels such as TV ads, then align the PPC ads with the messaging used on the other channels so it has better chances of pulling in existing and potential clients.

4. Perfect call-to-action words

For instance, a practitioner can test “compare prices now” vs. “buy now” and see which will yield better results. Align the testing with specific seasons throughout the year. If he is working for the travel industry, he can test “book online now” during the last-minute holiday rush. If he’s working for retail, he can test “guaranteed delivery” against “free” during the Christmas season.

Make sure to use ad copy headlines that can actually fulfill its promise. Making vague promises such as “satisfaction guaranteed” can turn off customers. They may earn more clicks but don’t expect it to convert very well. Lots of advertisers are guilty of making false promises. A classic example is an advertisement that makes people think they’ll be getting free stuff but when they go to the landing page, the item or service isn’t exactly free. They WILL get a 30-day free trial but they have to buy the product if they want to continue using it.

5. Consider other factors aside from click-through-rates

Some PPC people are guilty of focusing too much on click-through-rates when testing in Google. Monitoring CTRs is never a bad thing unless it makes a practitioner lose sight of his real goal. He should use Google Adwords for measuring conversion rate and costs to do the job splendidly so he can look into other factors (such as average position, day of the week) when comparing results.

6. Take advantage of the ad formats that Google introduced

During the last couple of years, Google has released new enhancements that can help boost ad copies. These enhancements include extended headlines, raiting and reviews, product extensions, and click to call on mobile adverts. Also, if the ad appears in the top three positions in search results, Google allows the website to have six ads appear at a time. Making good use of display URLs is also recommended, which gives a practitioner extra characters to work with.

7. Make the most of the landing page

The landing page should prominently display the search query. Google’s quality score algorithm is particular on the relevancy of landing pages, so it helps to make a page consistent with the ads. The landing page can be tweaked and tested as needed in order to improve conversions. Avoid creating tailored ads that link to the homepage or an insignificant page in order to avoid high bounce rates and keep the PPC budget in line.

8. Using dummy ads

Create a duplicate of a test ad then run both at the same time. Monitor the discrepancy between the original and the duplicate to know if the test ad is actually showing significant results. Watch out for strange things in the test results, such as major fluctuation between two identical ads.

Practitioners should feel free to experiment to know what works best for them. It’s important that they look beyond what’s considered as best practices in order to beat their competitors in this crazy world of PPC ads. There are lots of practitioners who get surprisingly amazing results when they do things differently. Patience is the key; having lots of it can educate them on ad copy testing successes and failures, which is part of the whole business.


About the Author: Aby League is a qualitative researcher and a passionate writer. You can see more of her articles on Elite Daily.


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