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Effective PPC Ad Copy 101, Part 2

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In Part 1, we covered the searcher behavior funnel and tips for writing headlines and descriptions. Now we'll venture beyond the ad copy to discuss methods for testing and fine-tuning your ads to increase performance.

After you've finished writing your initial ad copy and have launched your PPC campaign, you might be tempted to just leave everything as is and let it ride. This is a big mistake. The key to a successful campaign is to check how well your ads are performing, and check them often.

You now enter into a cycle of checking results, tweaking ad copy, and testing. What you've initially launched will be your baseline. After checking your results, your goal is to change your ad copy to see if it makes a positive difference. First, let's explore the benefits of this process in a language we can all understand -- money.

Benefits of Ads with High CTR

One of the most important measurements for PPC is the CTR, especially if your strategy is generating sales or leads. Remember what I said earlier about quality score? If you can achieve a higher CTR, you can lower your keyword's CPC.

Let's take a look at our bike shop again and see the results of two sample ads. Ad A had a lower CTR resulting in a higher CPC. The winner in this round is ad B with a higher CTR resulting in a lower CPC.

  • Ad A
  • Clicks: 2,000
  • CTR: 1.2 percent
  • CPC: 0.78
  • Total cost: $1,560
  • Ad B
  • Clicks: 2,000
  • CTR: 3.1 percent
  • CPC: 0.44
  • Total cost: $880

Deliver Ad Copy Keywords to Landing Pages

The next important measurement is the conversion. Remember, the role of PPC advertising is to drive traffic to your site, not to convert your visitors into buyers. That's the role of your Web site. One of the best ways to increase your conversion rate is to send your new visitor to a page that is very relevant to the ad they just clicked on.

Many advertisers are lazy and just send visitors to their home page. No one likes landing on a home page, only to then have to search again for what they were originally looking for. Directing users to a landing page that includes keywords you used in your ad it helps your visitors feel like they landed on the right spot. This translates into trust and ultimately increases your chances of a new conversion.

Conversion rates tend to be higher when there's high relevance between ad copy and landing page. Don't be afraid to design custom PPC landing pages if the appropriate pages don't exist on your site.

Testing Ad Copy

A good place to start is A/B testing. It's also a good idea to start with more than one ad per ad group.

Try using three or four ads and let Google rotate them around, display each ad's CTR and attempt to optimize them. The ad with the higher CTR is the one to use. Then either delete the others or change them and try again.

One downside to allowing Google to optimize your ad rotation is you won't get even amounts of impressions. In this case, you should test each ad by itself for equal periods of time and check the overall results. After you feel like you've narrowed down a strong ad, try to refine it and make it even better.

During the refining process, the key is to be creative and think outside the box. Try different offers:

  • Refine your unique selling propositions. Look at your competition. What makes you unique?
  • Adjust the tone of your ad.
  • Switch out our two descriptions or write your ad in a different order. The results here are sometimes surprising.

If you want to go beyond A/B testing, multivariate testing can test multiple ad elements. To learn more about this and other methods for testing, please read Tim Ash's columns on landing page testing and tuning.

The ultimate goal is identifying what works and what doesn't. This is an ongoing process. You're never finished. Always try to squeeze just a little more performance out of your ad.

Submissions are now open for the 2009 Search Engine Watch Awards. Enter your company or campaign before July 17, 2009. Winners will be announced at SES San Jose.


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