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Posts Tagged ‘Optimization’

Don’t Neglect the Obvious

Thursday, July 11th, 2013


Because we often focus on PPC Ad Writing tips and techniques that go beyond the basics and the obvious, I sometimes feel that we might unintentionally send the wrong message — that readers might feel like we don’t believe the basics to be fundamental.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The basics are indeed foundational and it’s always worth circling back to them when it comes to PPC Optimization, and this Win of the Week is a nice example of that:

So which ad won? I’ll give you a hint: it’s the ad that better conformed to basic PPC Ad Writing Strategy.

Ad A won because it repeated the keyword “Gifts” in the first line of ad copy, and because it did so within the context of buyer motivations: “Popular Gifts forr Friends & Family!”

The losing ad, on the other hand, gives me information, in terms of size of selection, but neglects buyer motivation, focusing on the word “Dolphin” rather than “Gifts.”

And that’s why this slight change was able to generate a 72% life in CTR. We’ve had larger wins this week, but none illustrated the PPC Ad Writing Basics like this contest did. So by all means, employ all the advanced techniques you can, but don’t neglect the obvious basics:

  • Make liberal use of keyword terms within the ad itself (and not just in the headline), and
  • Focus on addressing buyer motivation rather than on simply info-stuffing the ad


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.


Not Everyone Likes to Learn (or Read)

Friday, May 24th, 2013


If you write for a living and/or consider yourself an avid reader, it’s kind of hard to even imagine this, but really — most people don’t like to read, especially if it’s not reading fiction for pleasure.

Why am I telling you this in a PPC Optimization Blog?

Well, take your best guess at which test won and I’ll explain how important this is:

OK, so Ad A won, and it’s mostly because Ad A’s copy avoids “Learn” and “Properly,” opting for “Find Out” and “Easy” instead. Because most people don’t like to read or to “learn” though reading. And if “Learn” has poor connotations for your audience, the probably aren’t too interested in the “proper” way to do things, either.

So Ad A outperformed Ad B mostly because Ad A understands that people think “reading’ and “learning” are work compared to “finding out” how “easy” something is.

So make sure that your ad writers are alive and sensitive to the emotional coloring of their words.


Which element of your offer is most important?

Friday, February 22nd, 2013


The old newspaper adage is, “Don’t bury the lede” — meaning to put the most interesting and exciting part up front in the headline or lead sentence of your story. If you lead with the less exciting parts, you end up “burying” it in the body of the article, where it might never get read.

But PPC Ads don’t have the luxury of “burying” much — either it gets featured in the ad, or it gets dropped. And a lot rides on the hard decision of what to feature and what to leave out.

So how do you make that decision?

Easy, you don’t. You let your customers make it for you by testing different ads with different offer elements in them. Then the winning ads can tell you which offer elements are most important, and which are so important that they should be pushed to the first line of copy or the headline.

Our most recent Win of the Week is a perfect example of this process:

One ad features free shipping and the other features the year-long return policy. Which one is more important?

As it turns out, the return policy beat out the free shipping offer by 149%

That’s why those of us in the optimization business say that “testing rules and opinion drools.” Because nothing delivers a bankable, real-world decision like a split test.

So which elements of YOUR offer are most important? And have you made sure of that by testing them?