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PPC 101 Writing Successful Creatives

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Having dealt with setting up an AdWords account and testing landing pages, it's time to perfect your creatives -- those challenging three lines Google taunts you with, or the daunting 40 and 70 characters Yahoo allows you.

Writing ads for search engine advertising is almost like writing headlines. It requires an ability to distill information into attention grabbing character restricted words.

Reading headlines from any of the more sensational newspapers can get you in the mindset. Now you have to add a thesaurus-like knowledge of vocabulary aided by a deep knowledge of the industry you're advertising for.

Unlike headlines, however, the ads need to include a call to action. "Buy, learn, click, try" are all words that motivate readers to do something that involves them interacting with your site through the ad. Using this type of approach will help improve your CTRs (define).

As a starting point, look at ads that are already running for the keywords you want to use. They can tell you what elements are being used to attract clients.

Then, look at the ads of more competitive industries. What are the most competitive verticals in PPC (define)? Try real estate, ringtones, and financial services, to name a few, as good sources of inspiration.

The next thing that helps is using the actual keywords in the ad. Most engines allow for dynamic keyword insertion. Google does it by adding {keyword}, though you should add alternative text in case the keyword runs more than the 25 characters of the title line or the 35 of the two lower lines. Thus, it will end up like this: {KeyWord: Other Text Here}.

Using capitalization for each word has proven to be effective for Google ads, but you can use variations to capitalize anyway you want:

  • keyword -- No capitalization, all word(s) are in lower case

  • Keyword -- The first word is capitalized

  • Key Word -- Every word is capitalized

  • KEY word -- Every letter in first word is capitalized

  • KEY Word -- Every letter in the first word AND the first letter of the second is capitalized

Yahoo and Microsoft adCenter also have these options.

The key to finding the perfect ad? Testing.

When starting a campaign, write two ads for each ad group. After you've had enough impressions -- anything over a few thousand is good enough to start -- keep the winning ad (the one with the best conversion rates -- see AdWords 101 for how to calculate that) and write a new challenger.

Keep the winner running for 75 percent of all impressions and give the rest to the challenger. How do you do this? All engines now allow you to run numerous ads.

Duplicate the winning ad three times to the challenger's one. By doing this, you're always working to improve your creatives, but not risking the bulk of your potential conversions.

Try this in combination with the information outlined in my two previous articles and you're on your way to PPC advertising success.

Beyond just improving the CTR, tie in conversion success. Sometimes an ad will have a high CTR but convert poorly. No sense paying for that non-converting traffic. Use tracking code with the ads so you can compare the cost per acquisition.

As you go forward, you're able to test and keep the ads that really sell your products and services. I'll go into analytics and conversion tracking in more detail for my next article, so keep coming back.

Join us for SES London February 19-21 and for training classes on February 22.


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