PPC Ad Optimization: Getting Big Results from Small Changes

When you think about optimizing a PPC ad, it’s understandable that you’d want something a little more than just a tweak, right? Wrong. And for a number of reasons.

Many changes that seem minor from a surface level, like switching placement of phrases, swapping out single words, or tweaking verbiage, can in fact represent a major change in terms of psychology and emotional impact. I’m pretty sure Mark Twain was thinking about PPC ad optimization when he said:

“The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

PPC testing history has proven beyond all doubt that small changes in the ad itself can result in huge boosts in the ad’s performance, and vice versa. In other words, there is no correlation between the amount the ad is changed and the amount the ad’s performance changes.

So while you may think that a 13 percent increase in CTR for the ad below is a humble boost, it translated to a high number of extra visitors to the site when you consider the click volume.


What is About Ad B that Boosted the CTR?

  1. A placement swap on the first line, moving “In 2 Minutes” to the head of the line, and finishing with “You’ll Speed it Up.”
  2. Changing “Over 201,531 Downloads” to “201, 531+ did it before.”

Both changes increased the vividness of the prose:

  • You can visualize and imagine “You’ll speed it up” better than “SpeedUp your MacOS” because the changed version represents an imaginary but already accomplished scenario, while the old version is merely an easily discounted and disregarded offer.
  • The “Did it Before” line causes you to “see” all those people actually using the product to speed up their Macs, while the older “Over 201,531 downloads” comes off as just a dry fact, without imaginary or visual impact.

What’s the Takeaway From All This Jazz?

  1. Hundreds of thousands of tests have shown us that we must accept the need for tweaking and wordsmithing as part of an overall PPC optimization strategy. Optimizing an ad shouldn’t always translate to a complete overhaul of 90 characters.
  2. When wordsmithing an ad, think vivid and make sure your words call forth imagery and emotions. Searchers have feelings too!
  3. Think of an ad as your pinky promise with the searcher. So when you find that certain appeals or assurances gain traction for your ads, you better make sure they show up on your landing pages too.

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