PPC Ad Optimization: This Week, Don’t Diss the Tweak!

When it comes to PPC ad copy optimization, there are generally two schools with few practitioners working both approaches.

  1. Fresh Approachers: The school of wholesale rewrites and the testing of new approaches, alternate messaging, and creative ad copy.
  2. Tweakers: The school of one-variable-at-a-time, refining what’s already proven to work, and making small tweaks to language.

But the good news is that you don’t have to be an exclusive subscriber to either. Enough writing and testing will show you that optimal improvement requires both approaches, though I often find a fair amount of resistance to the worth of the tweak. It’s almost as if some clients feel that small changes can only produce small results, or that it isn’t worth paying for merely “tweaked” ad copy. (Stop nodding, your neck will hurt!)

So this week, I want you to look those tweak-haters in the eyes and say:

First, it’s psychological change in the prospect, not the physical change in the ad, that’s important to results.

The question in evaluating an ad tweak is not, “how many words or phrases has the writer changed?” but “how much does the new ad improve or alter that ad’s meaning and persuasive power within the mind of the searcher?”

For example, the difference between, say, “Put money in your pocket” and “Puts money in your pocket” in terms of a headline for a metal detector, isn’t the difference of one measly letter, but the difference between an invitation for an opportunity to do some work, and a gadget that’ll seemingly do the work for you (at least on a connotative level).

Physically it’s one letter; psychologically, it’s a much bigger difference than that!

Second, if you’re not testing both fresh approaches and tweaks, you’re probably testing great approaches with inferior wordsmithing.

In other words, what’s to keep from your testing a bad execution of an optimal approach, but passing it over for a better execution of an inferior approach? Nothing! Because you’re never tweaking the execution to find out.

So if you’re not testing tweaks, it’s very likely that you’re not getting the mileage you ought to be getting out of all those “fresh approaches” you’re testing.

Taking this into account, check out the tweaked PPC ad below:


Only two words distinguish the winning ad from the losing ad:

  1. “Enhance” vs. “Improve,”
  2. “Fun” vs. “Scientific”

What impact do you think these minor tweaks had on improving the ad’s CTR? Five percent? Ten percent?

No, the winning ad improved CTR by whopping 30 percent because the difference between “enhance” and “improve” isn’t just a slight tweak between synonyms. After all, advertisers sell male enhancement products, not male improvement products, right? “Enhance” doesn’t imply the need for improvement, but “Improve” does.

And when you’re looking to play Brain Training Games, “Fun” is more promising than “Scientific.” Yes, you want the games to be scientifically proven, but that’s not the same thing as “Scientific” is it?

So take a tip and this week, don’t diss the tweak! Always make sure you’re cycling in both fresh rewrites and tweaks for your PPC ads to make sure they reach their optimal performance.

About the author

Named one of the top 20 most influential PPC experts by PPC Hero, Noran is a digital marketing consultant, columnist, speaker and instructor. She is a board member of the local Los Angeles chapter of SEMPO, as well as an Associate Instructor of the Master Certification in Conversion Optimization Course at Market Motive.

She specializes in analyzing the PPC customer journey, creating buyer momentum and optimizing their experience from click to conversion. Her passion for understanding today's customer is a key driver to her analysis of industry trends and keeping up with the latest in PPC, voice of customer, analytics, and conversion optimization.

In addition to writing for publications such as SES Magazine and ClickZ, Noran is also a frequent speaker at the SES conferences, the Internet Marketing Conference and the Online Marketing Summit.

When Noran is not online, she is either traveling or diving with sharks in the Red Sea.