5 Tips To Fine Tune PPC Ad Copy

Of all the communicating we humans do, it’s estimated that only 7% of our message is transmitted by the words we choose, while the rest of our meaning and intention comes from the tone, body language and other non-verbal cues we use.

So what does this means for PPC advertisers, who communicate exclusively in short text-based messages? Simply put, the words we use in our advertisements must be as powerful as possible.

If your messages lack appeal, you may find it difficult to get your ad to stand out amongst your competitors to drive high CTR’s while maintaining good conversion rates.

If you feel like your ad text could use a boost, try testing the points below in your PPC ad copy.

1.  Eliminate Unnecessary Words

We see unnecessary words far too much in PPC advertising. The total number of characters we have to work with is limited. So why waste these valuable resources telling readers things they don’t need to know?!

In PPC ads, this could entail any of the following:

a) The location of your company. PPC advertisers can use ad extensions and proper integration with Google Places for this. Fully taking advantage of all Google ad features can help you take up more screen real estate and help your ads stand out more.

b) Clichés. Depending on the ad and/or product, using words like “quality” or “service” might just clutter up the body copy without adding anything compelling that the user doesn’t already expect you to boast about. Given the limited space, letting the user focus on one powerful message (like a deal on overnight shipping) is often more effective than diluting things with additional promises that nearly any business might be expected to make.

c) Your brand. Especially if your brand doesn’t have significant recognition within your industry. It’s better to focus on USPs and value propositions like 24/7 support, fast shipping, large selection, etc. You can also focus on compelling benefits (discussed in #2 below) if your brand is not recognized.

d) Your phone number. Again, PPC advertisers can use ad extensions to include phone numbers in ads if they want to drive phone calls.

Ad Copy Example For more information, refer to my 3 Common Ad Copy Flops article for more info on what not to do with PPC ad copy text.

2.  Home In On Compelling Benefits

If the benefit you’ve decided to focus on in your PPC ad doesn’t appeal to visitors, no phrasing you can conjure up will make your words as powerful as they could be if you had chosen a more appealing benefit.

For this reason, it’s critical that benefits you’re promoting in PPC ads are the ones that resonate best with your audience.

Whether you determine this via in person or online focus groups, randomly polling audience members on your site, split testing various benefit-oriented ad texts or any other technique, taking the time to identify the right elements to promote will go a long way towards making your ads effectively speak to your target audience and as a result convert better.

3.  Incorporate Power Words

Incorporate different power words into your PPC ads. Mileage will vary depending on the industry and the words you use.

For example, some words will provide tremendous incentive in some verticals while in others completely turn people off at the prospect of low value/useless offers. Ad copy testing will determine which options are most compelling to your audience.

To use power words effectively, start by brainstorming a few different options that can be substituted in your PPC ads. Then, split test your ad variations to conclusively determine which power words represent the biggest impact on your PPC conversion rates.

Some examples of words I like to try in PPC testing are try, get, fast, online, etc. Here are some examples (altered to protect client confidentiality) of headlines with and without power words, along with their associated cost per conversion. This is based on a large sample size.

Get Eagle Talons – $7.75

Eagle Talons Fast – $10.24

Eagle Talons – OEM – $7.81

Parts of Birds Online – $12.10

What did we learn? Either “Get” or “OEM” were strong performers as opposed to mentioning speed. While fast shipping may be a benefit, we assume it looks cheesy in a headline or causes a few more hasty clicks than it should.

It’s pretty clear that the broader term (“parts of birds”) attracts more curious clicks from people who are ultimately less likely to find what they need on the client’s site.

The tighter term sets us on the right path for what Bryan Eisenberg has called “persuasive momentum”. It also matches more closely to the keyword terms, which will probably result in a higher CTR and better Quality Score overall, and probably there better ROI (all else being equal).

4.  Avoid Generic Copy

Before launching any new PPC campaign, take a look at the specific messages your competitors are running. Do you see any patterns? Any instances of words or phrasing that are repeated across advertisements?

Whenever you see these opportunities, you’re being handed a golden opportunity to incorporate power words into your advertisements in order to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Think of it like a “combo breaker” in a video game. If you can set yourself and your ad apart by breaking standard patterns and avoiding generic copy, you’ll stand a far greater chance of getting your ad clicked on.

5.  Perfect Your Call To Action

Very few things in the advertising world are more powerful than asking your reader to take a specified action.

From a human psychology standpoint, even posing a simple request in a scenario in which the reader has no stake in completing your desired action brings him or her into an unstated social contract. Breaking this contract causes mental unease, which is why many people will subconsciously carry out your calls to action – even if they see no benefit to themselves for doing so.

A special case may be free trial or sample offers, which require no actual purchase (yet). If it’s free anyway, avoid making the process sound difficult! Consider that the phrase, “Claim your copy now” seems much less arduous to visitors than the alternative, “Buy your copy now.”

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column


About The Author: was recently voted the 2013 Most influential SEM. She is the Vice President of Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media where she focuses on search engine marketing strategy, landing page optimization (LPO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

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  • Pat Grady

    I know it runs against the grain, but I think calls to action are overrated.  Going for the close too soon, with so few characters available, seems to be a lesser performing choice.  I often find saying more about the product, options, unique differences, range of choices, speed of delivery, stock status, shipping specials, and more – beats out the calls to action.

  • http://www.inkode.co.nz Aidan Rogers

    Very solid and practical article. Had a little chuckle at the “combo breaker’ reference – took me back to my youth :) 

  • http://twitter.com/andrew_goodman Andrew Goodman

    Hey Pat, I suppose it depends on the account, but personally, I’ve deliberately left calls to action off the end of the body copy many times just to be sure, and as long as the test is thorough, some version with a call to action usually survives the test. Buy Now! is only a few characters. I can see your point, though. Sometimes the version without a call to action wins. Lately I’ve been finding that putting “Buy” in the *headline* has a perverse effect. Perhaps it subtly gets people’s hackles up… for whatever reason, it seems to underperform.


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