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10 PPC Ad Copy Tips

You can't fake PPC copy tips. Mona Elesseily is the Director of Marketing Strategy for Page Zero Media, one of the top consultancies in paid search marketing. At Page Zero Media, Mona focuses on paid search strategy and conversion improvement. In her career, she has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Capital One, CareerBuilder.com and Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches. She is also the author of "Mastering Panama: A How-To Guide on Yahoo! Search Marketing". LC

Managing paid advertising on the search engines can be tricky. The little boxes of ads seem innocuous, but many advertisers don't effectively capitalize on SEM (Search Engine Marketing) opportunities. One way to make a big difference in paid search campaigns is with ad copy. Here are several pointers to get your ad copy right!

1. Write Specific Ads for Specific Keywords

Gear ad copy to the specific terms in your paid search accounts. Statistics tell us that visitors are more likely to convert to a sale, sign-up or other type of conversion when they see queries they've keyed into the search engines in your actual ad copy.

For example, for a term like "Dyson animal vacuum," an effective ad would look something like this:

Get Dyson Animal Vacuums
Bagless, upright vacuums in many
colors. Free shipping. Order today

Try to avoid broader ads, as they are unfocused and generally tend to lead to fewer conversions. Here's an example of an ineffective broad ad:

Dyson Vacuums
We offer 3000+ vacuum cleaners.
Deals on Dyson vacuums.

2. Cater Ad Copy to Different Buyer Needs

As we all know, buyers are motivated by different factors. Try different buyer needs in ad copy to see where you get the most bang for your buck.

For the price-sensitive, try ads with prices. Note: For the sake of comparison, it may also be worth trying ads without prices. For buyers looking for reassurances, try ads mentioning 24/7 support or "official site" status (if applicable). For buyers looking for deals, try special offers in ad copy. Try time-limited offers (among others) to encourage buyers to make a purchase more quickly than they would have without an offer.

3. Ad Copy Should Be Appropriate In "Feel" To the Industry Category

Use the appropriate ad tone for your audience. For example, if you're selling children's toys, ad copy can be lighter and more playful in tone than if you're trying to sell to business executives. Take a look at the following examples:

Children's Math Software
Get math up to speed with fun &
easy to use software. Order today!

Get Thermal Oxidizers
Thermal, catalytic oxidizers and more.
New and used. Get more info today.

4. Consider the Buy Cycle

With many products and services there are several buying stages. At the beginning of the buy cycle, searchers may be looking for general information and product reviews, while at the end of the cycle they may be looking for return policy information or where to make a secure purchase.

For effective ad copy, segment keywords and write ad copy that's appropriate to the buy stage of the keyword(s). Take a look at the following example (related to financial planning). For terms that typically appear at the beginning of the buy cycle like "financial planning" and "financial planner," try an ad like the one below. At this stage, the purpose of the ad is to give visitors more information and to move them to the next buying stage.

Financial Planning Services
Long-term growth with a margin
of safety. Try this quiz.

For terms that appear later in the buy cycle like "buy IRA" or "get IRA," try an ad like the one below. It speaks more to someone who is interested in buying rather than someone looking for product information.

Need to Invest in an IRA?
Growth, income & balanced funds for
160+ years. No commissions.

5. Analyze Paid Search Results

In the PPC game, CTRs (Click Through Rates) and conversion figures are key (if your focus is to generate sales). With higher CTRs, advertisers generally get lower PPC prices and this can obviously have a significant impact on ROI (Return On Investment).

Take a look at the following two ad examples from a company selling shoes. Note: The data in the two examples is identical except for CPC (Cost Per Click), CTR and ROI figures. Ad A had a lower CTR resulting in a higher cost per click and a lower ROI. In the example, ad B is the clear winner with a higher CTR resulting in a lower CPC and ultimately a higher ROI (ad B converted 50% better than ad A).

Ad A
Clicks: 1000
CTR: 1.5
CPC: 0.75
Total cost: $750
Conversion rate: 5%
CPA (Cost Per Acquisition): $15

Ad B
Clicks: 1000
CTR: 3.5
CPC: 0.50
Total cost: $500
Conversion rate: 5%
Number of shoes sold: 50
CPA: $10

6. Ensure PPC Data is Statistically Significant

Related to CTRs and ROI, sometimes advertisers can get conflicting data. For example, sometimes ads will show a high CTR and low conversion rate, or a low CTR and a high conversion rate (you generally want high CTRs and high conversion rates). Generally speaking, inconclusive data means ad tests haven't been running long enough, and I'll continue to run tests until results become conclusive. In many instances, "weird" data stems from insufficient PPC traffic.

7. Carry Over Ad Copy Keywords to Landing Pages

If possible, try to have the keywords in your ad copy appear on your landing pages (the pages that people go to when they click on your ads). The keyword continuity between the search query, the ad copy and the words on a landing page helps the searcher feel he or she reached the right place and that search "needs" have been met.

When ad copy and landing pages are related, conversion figures tend to be higher than when there is no such relationship. Don't be afraid to design specific PPC landing pages if appropriate pages don't currently exist on your site.

8. Keep Testing Ad Copy

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to test. I like using A/B testing to get a feel for ad tone and overall market positioning. In general, I like to test at least 3 ads at a time per ad group.

If you feel you've done enough A/B testing, look into multivariate testing. You can test 3, 5 or 7 ad elements. Try testing the following ad variables in your ad copy:

  1. Ad headlines
  2. Different offers
  3. Different USPs (Unique Selling Propositions)
  4. "Buy" words like try, get, etc.

Never stop testing PPC ad copy! I've seen tremendous growth in PPC accounts (over years) with continuous and consistent testing.

9. Spend Time Creating Killer Ad Copy

Killer copy doesn't come out of thin air. It takes time to generate good ad copy, so give copywriting the time it deserves. I like to break up the task of generating ad copy. Try the following steps:

  1. Determine differences between you and your competitors. Or, in other words, get clear on your company's USPs.
  2. Brainstorm copy segments like various USPs, product or service descriptions, etc. Try to keep them short, as the space you have to work with in paid search ad copy is very limited. At this point, the goal is to list as many ad copy segments as you can.
  3. String copy together in various combinations.
  4. Write ads with different tones.

Generally, I'll brainstorm over a couple of days (it's amazing what comes to me when I'm actually doing other tasks!) and then I'll start writing ads. Once written, I like to put ads away for a day or so and revisit with fresh eyes. I find the good ads tend to jump out after a period of "rest."

10. Think Outside the Box

Don't write bland copy! Think of a way to make your ad copy "spicy." Take a look at the following examples. Which do you think is more appealing?

Children's Math Software
Tons of math, educ games
& software. Good for all ages.

Children's Math Software
Get math up to speed with fun &
easy to use software. Order today!

Good luck and happy PPC ad copy writing!