5 Reasons Your PPC Ads Bite

By Jeff Allen | @JeffAllenUT | President at Hanapin Marketing

A big mistake most PPC newbs and vets make is that they don’t take their ad copy seriously. It’s sometimes an afterthought after building out an account or at worst it’s a copy and paste job from one campaign/ad group to the next.

Taking the proper time to understand your market, craft compelling ads and conduct meaningful tests not only gives you a performance lift but also it is one of the more fun aspects of PPC.

Here are 5 reasons your current ad copy bites:


1. Your PPC Ads are Too Relevant

It’s pay per click marketing, not pay per click keyword stuffing. Stop worrying so much about Quality Score and “relevancy” and focus on writing emotionally compelling ad copy that speaks to your target market’s needs and wants.

To focus more on writing compelling content versus relevant copy think through the following questions:


  • What’s the absolute worst-case scenario if your target doesn’t solve the problem that your product or service solves?
  • What is the most unorthodox feature your product/service has that solves a significant problem for your target?
  • What’s the biggest mistake a person makes when choosing a company/product that offers what you do?


2. You’ve Written Ads for the Wrong Audience

Recently I saw an ad with the phrase “protect your stuff” win an ad test. The reason it is surprising is how informal the ad was compared to the control ad, which in my opinion was better written. But when I stepped back to consider that the target market it made a lot of sense. The primary purchaser of this product was under 25 and thus the informal “stuff” spoke more to them.

The take away is to focus on the language your audience wants/uses/likes and not the language you prefer.


3. All Your Competitors Look Like You

Every time I want to feel better about the quality of my ad copy I just search for “Car Insurance.” Sure enough, it’s always a mood lifter as the copy is so bland and generic that it makes my copy read like it was written by Don Draper. I did this today and there were 11 ads on the page. 9 of these ads mentioned price and the other 2 mentioned trust. Not a lot of variety. Not to mention these marketers are just eroding each other’s margins by focusing on price instead of finding meaningful ways to create value.

See the questions in point one of this post to understand how to frame yourself differently than your competition. Additionally, simply search for your largest volume queries and write ads that are drastically different than what everyone else is saying.


4. You Test Ad Copy Just to Test Ad Copy

When I ask interviewees what their ad testing strategy and most often hear, “I am always A/B testing ad copy. Once an ad wins then I test a new headline or description line 1 or 2.” This makes me think that this person doesn’t have a strategy but rather views ad testing as a compulsory item on a to do list that needs to get checked off.

Ad testing should be approached with the mindset of a.) you are trying to learn something about your product, your consumer or your account and b.) you understand why you are going to test what you are. We do this with an ad testing matrix that focuses on features and benefits and then systemically, over several weeks, determines the best copy and thus the most compelling benefits of the clients product or services.


5. Poor Ad Group Structure

This is the most obvious but one of the most common reasons your copy sucks. Our team recently worked on an account with 1,800 keywords in one ad group that ranged from pet types to sporting goods. And this wasn’t some small mom and pop operation. It was actually one of the largest PPC marketers in the world.

We have found that ad groups with 5 or fewer keywords are the most successful. It’s a lot of work, a lot of boring work, to break out all your ad groups to that level but the results are typically well worth it.