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Posts Tagged ‘Cta’

Imperative Verbs — They’re Not Just for CTAs Anymore

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013


Every copywriter knows what a Call-to-Action is.

And most even know how to create one: combine an imperative verb with either a benefit or an indicator of urgency.


“Gain instant access now!” is a nice example. Notice the command/imperative verb “Gain” combined with the benefit (“instant access”) and the urgency indicator of “now!”


But here’s the thing about imperative verbs: in writing, they can be interpreted as an invitation as easily as a command. Think about walking into a friend’s living room and having them say “sit down.” That’s an offer and an invitation rather than a command, but it’s still the imperative form of the verb.


This invitational aspect of imperative verbs matters because it can be used to invite readers to picture themselves taking the action or imagining the benefit you want. For example, take a look at the winning ad in this contest, and you’ll see how it makes use of this very dynamic:


ppc call to action tips
“Decorate with Upscale Furniture” is an imperative — the “decorate” is used as an imperative verb — but it’s also an invitation and the very language makes the reader imagine themselves decorating their home with upscale furniture (that they managed to score at a 70% discount).


It’s an effective technique, which makes it little wonder that this ad copy boosted click-through rates by 71%



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.


The Power of Internal Consistency

Friday, March 29th, 2013


When analyzing PPC Ads, it helps to break them down into their component parts: headline, first and second lines of body copy, and URL, being the major structural components, with things like offers, claims, deal sweeteners, and calls-to-action (CTA) being some of the functional components contained within them.

But when a searcher scans a PPC ad, she doesn’t look at individual components, she sees the whole ad and gets her gut-level impression of “click” or “not what I’m looking for” from that overall, split-second gestalt.

What this means from ad writers is that how the elements interact with each other is just as important as how the different structural and functional elements work on their own. And that’s exactly the dynamic involved in today’s Win of the Week:

Both ads have roughly the same structural and functional components, though the two ads swap the order of their 1st and 2nd lines of body copy, with Ad A starting with the CTA and then stating the benefit, and Ad B starting with the benefit and then moving to the CTA.

But which ad has the better overal coherence and internal consistency?

Well, Ad A won the competition with an astounding 481% increase in Click-Though-Rate. Oh, and Ad A also has the better internal consistency and gestalt from line-to-line. Here’s why:

    1. The “How to” in the headline promises the delivery of instructional material or information vs. the “Qualify Your Leads” of the losing ad which could promise the delivery of a service or lead sorting software product or something other than how-to-type info.
    2. The “Step by Step” description of the guide delivers on the “How to” promise of the headline vs. the “Better Identify Quality Leads” of the losing ad which still leaves people guessing about what exactly is being offered.
    3. The “Learn How to Uncover Best Leads” both reiterates the promises of the headline and first line of copy, while also strengthening them, because uncovering leads implies the ability to see through distracting or misleading “camouflage” rather than simply sorting through obvious or easily identified leads. Compare this to the losing ad which only clarifies exactly what is on offer in the last line and sticks with language that implies a sorting function rather than a proces of discernment.

    So Internal Consistency matters in PPC Ads, just as it does in most other areas of advertising, marketing, and, life in general.


Reflect their thoughts back at them

Thursday, February 14th, 2013


OK, take your pick — which of these two PPC Ads won:

It’s kind of touch because they’re almost the same ad, right? Swap out the verb and add (or subtract) one adjective on the first line, then swap “clocks” for “& more” (or vice versa) and add (or subtract) a two-word CTA on the second line. Those are the only differences.

And yet, those few changes make a huge difference in whether or not searchers click on the ad — one of these ads outperformed the other by 264%!

And the ad that won is the ad which better reflected how the searcher actually thought about her task. So ask yourself, was that searcher looking to SHOP dinosaur designs, or to FIND them. Would they be interested in just any old designs, or great ones? And would they find the idea of dinosaur clocks weird or just what they had in mind?

And with that hint, you probably figured out that Ad A won. It won because the ad copy more thoroughly matched the thoughts and tasks of the searcher. And that’s how seemingly slight tweaks to the language resulted in Win-of-The-Week-sized increases in Click-Through Rates.


Favor the Anglo-Saxon

Thursday, January 17th, 2013


Have you ever heard of an order of magnitude lift in Click-Through Rates?

Well, until a few days ago, neither had I, and I’ve seen my share of 300% and 400% improvements (and those are impressive, too), but never something on the order of a 10X improvement in CTR for an Google Adwords ad. Here are the two ads involved in that contest — you tell me which one jumped response rate by 10X:

Got it figured out?

OK, then: the real winner is Ad B. Now let’s look at why

Anglo-Saxon Words Kick Latin Words… Posterior

The simple, clear, common, single syllable, and vivid words are best, and they’re the ones taken from anglo-saxon roots. Abstract, polysyllabic, and “erudite” words tend to deaden the immediacy and vividness of language. They’re the ones derived from latin roots and also tend to be words favored by bureaucrats.

Example: Ass is anglo-saxon. Posterior is latinate. Kick is anglo-saxon. Calcitrate is latinate. So which gives the more vivid image: kick ass or calcitrate posterior?

Ok, so let’s apply this to the ads in the contest, which is more vivid?

  • Learn Top Event Marketing Tactics, or
  • Increase Event Registration

Learning tactics is vivid and credible, increase registration is abstract and a bigger promise, therefore inherently less credible. It’s as simple as that

Within Ad Consistency

The two lines of copy in Ad A only seem related if you really think about it. As in supposedly this free guide will help me “increase event registration.”

But the two lines of copy in Ad B are tightly integrated and obviously go together: there’s an offer to “learn event marketing tactics” along with the follow-up call-to-action of “Download Your Free Marketing Guide.” This kind of inter-copy integration is a lot more important than most people think as it makes the ad feel more inherently trustworthy.

Call-to-Action vs. No Call-to-Action

Having a CTA isn’t a foolproof method for improving Click-Through Rates, but it’s pretty close, and it IS a verifiably identified best practice. If you don’t have one, you’d better have a really solid reason why not, and you’d better test it against a similar ad with a CTA. In this case, the losing ad had no good reason whatsoever for skipping the ending call-to-action.


So… Boom — three really big improvements combined into one ad al equal a 1224% increase in CTR. But don’t just admire the numbers, learn from the test!

[Editor's Note: This post was originally scheduled for last week, but due to a technical glitch, was published as a private post, rather than going out to our reader's at large, for that reason, we'll be featuring two Win of the Week columns this week, one today and one on Friday.]