Ad Copy Best Practices……..Really?

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Ever Had Any Surprising Text Ad Testing Results??

I can’t count the number of times I was astonished by results during my early days in Pay Per Click Marketing. I was totally baffled to notice that some of the ads, which in my opinion were totally dreadful, had actually worked wonders on the web. Through my experience, I have realized that it’s fairly a routine to be surprised with your test results.  And I can assume that anyone involved in any sort of Website or Digital Optimization testing will tell you that being surprised by a set of results is almost an everyday occurrence.  I firmly believe that nobody bats a thousand when it comes to optimization of any kind, and I think that’s especially true for Text Ads optimization as AdWords Text ads are small and in some ways unassuming.

Beyond Just Abiding By The Best Practices!

Recently, I ran an ad copy test which was new ad vs. an ad that the client had been running in the account before we took over. The client’s ads were definitely decent, but they did not follow what we believe are best practices.  The main thing was that these ads lacked clear calls to action. I made it a point to incorporate specific and clear calls to action in my ad copies. However, I observed that my ad was the clear loser overall pretty much across all ad groups. This taught me a valuable lesson, that best practices are at times great to keep in mind, but do not always guarantee best results. I think with PPC ad copies, small things you may not even think of, like say the punctuation, bold keywords, etc. may impact your CTR and conversion rate to a great extent, beyond just the actual messaging.  The principal thing is to test and let the numbers speak for themselves because I have been proven wrong many times based on what I thought would work and what actually did. I was astounded at how an elementary change in punctuation or capitalization could affect the CTR of an ad. However, this doesn’t surprise me anymore, but it sure did then. More recently, Google changed the way text ads are displayed in the top 3 spots. Essentially, when proper punctuation is included in line 1 of an ad, Google will place line 1 next to the headline making it look like an organic SERP listing. The response to these ad copies was totally explosive as they began recording an amazing CTR. Drilling down a bit deeper and taking the customer perspective into consideration, I learnt that at times this technique was successful in attracting the customer, as he ends up clicking on it considering it to be an SERP organic listing owing to its visual resemblance to it.

Also, I will be frank enough to accept that I have, sometimes, gone against the standard best practice of using up all the character spaces that the search engine provides me with and have intentionally scripted ads with shorter description lines by stripping them to the bone and trying the game of ‘shortest ad wins’. Sometimes, it does emerge as an out and out winner over the longer ads. I believe this speaks to the cognitive process of users, and also perhaps the minimalism of it flatters & appeals better to the searchers who have had enough with the busy-ness of web pages and the excessive claims and information overload purveyed by the overstuffed world of marketing.

Ad Text Optimization – An Effort To Drill Down To A Winning Concept!

I believe if you work on an account for long enough, you start to test everything you can with text ads and these can make a big difference. A good example of this is testing display URL variations, such as adding www. or not, or adding things after the domain name, i.e. /Free, and seeing big differences in results.

Most of my surprising results have revolved around how much different offers (50% off v/s buy one get one free v/s free shipping) impact CTR and conversion rate. I guess it’s logical, but to watch things fluctuate so drastically as a result of changes really demonstrates how important it is to test those things and implement what customers want from the ad. Also, I believe testing the timing of launch for seasonal or holiday-based ads has been a lesson in how dramatically their performance can change and the importance both, of using those types of ads to your advantage and getting them out of your account before they lose value.

Whenever I say, ‘I think this will work’ means I don’t really know and can’t guarantee my ad’s top performance. I suggest in such a case it will be wise to leave your ego outside the account. Try running some ad copy tests and let the metrics decide what is best for your account’s profits

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