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Posts Tagged ‘Credibility’

Don’t Ignore Best Practices

Monday, July 1st, 2013


Best practices have been identified and labelled as such for a reason — because they’ve been found to boost Click-Through Rates often enough to make them a good rule-of-thumb for inclusion in your ad writing habits and to make testing them a go-to part of your optimization process.

That doesn’t mean they’re fool proof, or that you shouldn’t test alternatives to them, just that their worth remembering, worth testing, and, when possible, worth combining and stacking for maximum effect. This recent contest is a great example of “stacked” best practices, successfully tested as part of an optimization campaign:

Use of Registered and Trademark Symbols and/or “Official Site”

This one is interesting because it pits the winning ad’s use of the copyright symbol for the hotel name against the “Official Site” language in the losing ad’s first line of copy. But what’s better, to establish credibility with one character/symbol in the headline or to do it with 14 characters in the first line of body copy?

The winning ad takes the credibility factor and elevates it up to the headline (which itself is a best-practice for optimization testing) and manages to accomplish the same task with less than 1/10th of the characters.

Promoting Key Persuasive Information “Up”

This PPC Ad is trading on matching keyword terms for “Gulf Shores Hotels” with a powerful appeal to price. So the headline deals with keyword match-up and then the body copy deals with price. So where do YOU think price should go: at the bottom of the ad or as close to the top as possible?

The BoostCTR ad writer understood that persuasive information should be pushed higher up in the ad, and further to the left, when possible, so he raised the “$69 per Night” info to the first line of copy (and made room for it by using the Registered symbol in the headline rather than “Official Site” in the first line of copy.

Promise Immediacy and Instant Gratification Whenever Possible

The losing ad closes with a CTA to “Book Rooms Starting at $69/night!” but this makes no explicit claims as to how quickly or immediately the searcher can check availability and book the rooms. But the winning ad foregrounds the immediate nature of the Call-to-Action by closing with “Book or Reserve a Room Online Now.” In this case the “or Reserve” and the “Online Now” phrases are key to promising immediacy.

Stacking 3 Best Practices = 89% increase in Click-Through Rate

The sub-head says it all, by combining these three best practices, the author of the winning ad scored an impressive win in a tight and competitive keyword bracket, falling just a bit short of doubling CTR. So take a tip from the boosters and see if you can’t apply some or all of these best practices to your own ad optimization efforts.


A Catalogue of Synonyms

Thursday, May 30th, 2013


There is a bit of writing advice that says to never use two words when one will do. Valuable advice, but it rests on knowing when only one word will do, and when more are needed, because sometimes more ARE needed.

And when it comes to PPC Ad Writing, two words are often better than one when used for emphasis and for creating greater believability and credibility. Why? Well, the best explanation is an example, so take a look at this split test and tell me which ad effectively used two words instead of one, and which one didn’t:

So which ad outperformed the other? In this case, Ad B handily defeated Ad A, creating a 40% lift in CTR.

And Ad B garnered it’s victory by:

  • Enforcing “Black Pearls” with the word “Real”
  • Specifying different types of black pearls — “Akoya, Tahitian, Freshwater”
  • And redundantly using “Guaranteed” and “90-Day Returns!”

In all of those cases, one word could have been used instead of two, but from the results, one word didn’t do nearly as well as two.

So take some time to figure out for your own ads, when you might want to gain greater credibility and emphasis with intelligent enforcement through synonyms, specificity, and even redundancy. Then test it out. Because sometimes the traditional wisdom holds, and sometimes it doesn’t, but as they say in the world of Optimization: testing rules and opinion drools.


Clarity Up-Front

Monday, March 11th, 2013


The faster your PPC ad shows the prospect how what you’re selling matches up with what she’s searching for, the better your ad will perform.

Obviously, message credibility, deal sweeteners, and other ad elements play an important part, too, but ultimately your ad has to tell searchers how you’re selling exactly what they’re looking for. And your ad’s ability to do this early in the copy is a bigger success factor than most people think.

And this recent contest represents a perfect example of this dynamic at work:

Notice that the losing ad actually has a rather powerful offer element that the winning ad doesnt: a claim of 55% savings. Yet the ad still lost this contest because it doesn’t tell the searcher what’s for sale until later in its copy, and because it never explicitly shows the searcher how what’s for sale matches up with the searcher’s desire.

In other words, the winning ad says “NY Botantical Garden Pass” right in the headline. People searching for New York Botanical Garden tickets immediately see that and know they’ve got a great match-up between the product for sale and what they need.

The losing ad, on the other hand, mentions the botanical gardens in the headline, but doesn’t say anything about tickets or passes until the first line of body copy. And then the searcher has to make the connection between the pass that’s for sale, and the botanical gardens.

In other words, in reading the losing ad, it’s implied that the botanical gardens are one of the “50+ New York Attractions that can be seen for 55% off,” but it’s not nearly as explicit or clear as it is in the winning ad. And even the implied message doesn’t get fully pieced together until almost the end of the ad.

The winning ad, on the other hand makes it clear directly from the headline and then further clarifies that the pass is also good for other attractions INCLUDING the searched-for Botanical Gardens.

So savings-schmavings — even without the 55% off claim, the winning ad boosted Click-Through Rates by 151% simply through clarity up front.

Like a lot of tips from the boosters, clarity up front sounds easy, but it’s a lot less easy when it’s your business you are writing about — things that are perfectly clear to you, may not be clear to an outsider. The Curse of Knowledge is hard to overcome!

That’s why it pays to have your PPC ads written by an outside copywriter trained in PPC Ad writing techniques.


Unsubstantiated Claims — Which Ones Work Best?

Thursday, October 4th, 2012


Traditionally, copywriters are taught to always build credibility, substantiate claims, and close loopholes. And that’s great advice for most traditional media.

In a sales letter, or radio ad, or magazine ad, one has time to trot out the proof and credibility elements that transform idle boasting into persuasive communication.

But PPC Ads are different. Often, there just isn’t space for proof and credibility building elements. Also, there’s sort of an implied promise that the proof and details will be provided after the click.

And, heck, an ad that at least makes a relevant claim is better than one that doesn’t even bother addressing the buyer’s chief concern, right?

And that gets to the crux of the matter: when making unsubstantiated claims in a PPC ad, how do you figure out the most relevant and CTR-boosting claim to make?

So with that question in mind, take a look at these two ads and pick your winner — which one makes the more relevant claim?

Well, if you’re looking for a Walking Cain, you are very likely NOT using solely as an affectation. In other words, you are in actual need of the extra support that the cain should provide.

And so while you’re undoubtedly interested in buying a nicer looking cain (hence the “Designer” included in the headlines and search terms for these ads), what else would be your chief concern?

How about QUALITY?

Yeah, that’s what I’d think, too. Apparently, it’s also what most shoppers thought as Ad B, brilliantly penned by booster mcdavis1982, managed to boost Click-Through-Rate by an unheard of 605%!

Also, note that neither ad provides any proof elements that the ads are stylish or fashionable. Nor are any specifics given as to the size of the selection/variety on sale or the speed of shipping.

But only one ad made the claim for quality, and that ad cleaned house when it came to clicks. Whether or not it cleans house in terms of conversions depends on how well the landing page makes good on the implied promise of “proof” elements appearring on the post-click landing page.

So what about your ads and your landing pages? Are your ads promising what your prospects are most concerned about? Are your landing pages living up to those promises?


When In Doubt, Kill the Cliches

Monday, October 1st, 2012


Every advertising medium has them. Those threadbare turns of phrase, transformed into ignorable “blah blah” filler from overuse and utter lack of credibility. In traditional broadcast advertising, they include such “gems” as:

  • “For all your ____ needs”
  • “Serving YOU since 19XX
  • “Fast, Friendly Service
  • “Competitive pricing

And, yes, the relatively new platform of PPC Advertising also has its own overused and patently un-believed claims and phrases. Just take a look at these two ads. They both feature a cliche, but one does so fare more prominently than the other. you should be able to pick it out immediately:

Yup, “Huge Selection” is almost the quintessential PPC Advertising Cliche.

When most PPC Ad Writers aren’t quite sure what to say about the stuff the advertiser is selling and they’re too afraid to make a claim of quality for the goods themselves, they can always fall back on promising a large selection. As in, “You’re sure to find what you’re looking for with our HUGE SELECTION”

Professional PPC Ad Writers know better. If you’re going to make an unqualified claim, make sure the claim matches what the searcher is really hoping to find. ‘Cause no one is hoping to find 1000s of, say, t-shirt designs; they’re hoping to find UNIQUE or DISTINCTIVE t-shirt designs. Just as brides-to-be don’t want to sort through a HUGE SELECTION of bridesmaids gifts — they just want to find gifts their bridesmaids will actually like.

So, heck, as long as you are slinging un-proven claims around in your PPC Ad, why not claim something the buyer is actually interested in, right? You better believe that’s right, because scores of PPC tests prove this rule of thumb to be a sure-fire CTR-booster.

And that’s the case here. Notice that the changes in the winning ad were small. The booster changed the claim of “Huge Selection” of round wool rugs to one of “colorful” round wool rugs. This also pulled the keyword phrase of “Round Wool Rugs” entirely onto the first line rather than splitting it over two lines of copy.

And other than shortening the final call to action a smidge, that’s it; those are the only changes made to the ad. But think about it, if you’re looking for a round wool rug, which is a more promising claim: that the rugs for sale are colorful, or that they online store has a “huge selection”?

Well, most people picked colorful, to the point where the winning ad (penned by booster wordisborn) more than doubled Click-Through Rates, boosting CTR by 181%

And that’s a tip you can take to the bank