Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid when Writing and Testing PPC Text Ads

by John A. Lee

Generally speaking, pay-per-click advertising is built on a foundation of 4 advertiser inputs: keywords, bids, ad copy and landing pages. Of these elements, your PPC ads really are the “tie that binds” bridging the gap between the point of search and the desired action on your landing page. This makes your ad writing skills very important to the success of your paid search campaign. And as with anything that carries importance, there are a myriad of pitfalls and mistakes that hinder your efforts. Today’s post will help you navigate around 5 of the most common mistakes made when writing and testing your PPC ad copy.

  1. No Keywords: Yes friends, it is a mistake to NOT include your targeted keywords in your ad texts. If you take nothing else from today’s post, please leave with this. When you write a PPC ad text, include the keyword you are targeting. Why is this important? Relevancy. When a searcher types your keyword in Google and your ad appears, your ad will be directly relevant to their search (not to mention the keyword will be bold in the ad). Relevancy translates to higher click-through rates, and in turn, higher Quality Scores, thus improving your ad position and potentially lowering your cost-per-click. It should go without saying, but this mistake is nearly eradicated by very tightly themed and segmented ad groups (i.e. if you have 100’s of keywords in an ad group, it is impossible to place every keyword in the ad copy).
  2. No Benefits: This one is a bit of a struggle for some folks. Great ad copy not only includes keywords, but also the benefit of the advertised product/service to the searcher. Not features, benefits. If choosing your product means the customer will save money and instantly gain 5 IQ points, tell them in your ad! Benefits will not only increase CTR, but aids considerably in the conversion process as well. Think about it – if you know the end outcome is a positive for you, you’ll be more likely to convert!
  3. No Calls-to-action: At this point, you’re likely imagining the character limits of a text ad and wondering how in the world you can fit keywords, benefits AND calls-to-action. Well, its’ possible and it’s necessary. Incorporating a strong call-to-action sets the searcher’s expectations of your website and initiates the conversion process. Phrases like Shop now, buy today, learn how, sign up, and phrases such as these, have a powerful impact on the behavior of your potential customers.
  4. No Split-testing: If there are cardinal sins in pay-per-click, neglecting to split-test ads is certainly #1. When all of the PPC search engines make it SO SIMPLE to run A/B tests on your ad copy, there is no excuse to neglect doing so. Split-testing your ads gives you the opportunity to perform market research on your target audience. What phrasing, benefits or calls-to-action generate the highest click-through-rates? Which generate the highest conversion rates? You can even perform basic landing page testing in this fashion as well. The point is, no one is perfect and therefore no one can write the perfect ad text on the first try. Write multiple ad variations, test, pause the ones that don’t work, write new ads. Rinse and repeat.
  5. No Testing Creativity: For those of you commit the “No Split-testing” mistake, this may be a moot point. Regardless, when split-testing PPC ads, a certain level of creativity is a must-have for success. For starters, you have a very limited amount of text space to work with. For another, you are advertising in a highly-competitive landscape where generic ads are devoured by exciting, well-written ads. My point is that when you are writing new ads for your on-going testing initiatives, get creative. Don’t be afraid to try something new or even outlandish. When you can get past your own inhibitions and truly get creative with your ad text writing and testing, you’ll unlock a whole new level of PPC performance!

If you’re currently falling victim to any of these mistakes, consider this your wake-up call. Log into your PPC campaigns today and get to work. Include keywords! Include benefits! Include calls-to-action! And test, test, test!

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7 Responses to “Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid when Writing and Testing PPC Text Ads”

  1. Great post. I feel I do well on all of these points, except sometimes #3. As a searcher myself, I feel turned-off by strong calls-to-action; I don’t like being ordered-around by an ad. An ad that says “Buy Now!” feels like a used-car salesman with a high-pressure technique. But maybe this is just me?

    Do you have any thoughts on this?

  2. […] Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid when Writing and Testing PPC Text Ads, Clix Marketing PPC Blog […]

  3. Excellent post.  I would also advice marketers to look at competitor ad copy as a way to differentiate their own.  For example, let’s say your ad is listed 3rd for a phrase. Anyone clicking it will have read 1 and 2.  Reading ad 3 would mean they didn’t find 1 and 2 particularly relevant.  The copy on ad 3 should be written considering this.

  4. […] Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid when Writing and Testing PPC Text Ads, Clix Marketing PPC Blog […]

  5. This is a nice review of basics. All great successes are built on attention to fundamentals so it’s important to keep going over them. Thanks!

  6. Dave,

    Ultimately, the decision to use calls-to-action should be based on stats. Test them in your ads, if they help you to increase CTR and conversion rates – “used car salesman” or not they must be working!

    Other calls-to-action are less pushy, like “learn more” or “shop online” etc. What you need to keep in mind is that you are setting up an expectation for the searcher for what they will be expected to do once they come to your site. If “buy now” is not what they intend to do, then they will move on to another ad. But if they are in the mindset of buying, than “buy now” will motivate them to click and buy. Now! ; )

  7. I would also add don’t hesitate to try something totally different than your competitors. I often advise asking a question as it resonates in the visitor’s mind, IF you ask the right question!

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