Ad Testing for 2013 – Plan Now for MONTHS!

By , Senior Digital Advisor at Hanapin Marketing

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For this month’s series, we’re going to be talking about new and exciting things that you can test within the wonderful world of PPC.  Take your accounts to the next level with some of these new techniques or tools.

A 100% admitted ad copy nerd, I just wouldn’t feel right tackling any subject in terms of PPC account testing other than ads.

There is no end to the world of ad testing, and I’ve covered some basic ideas in the past. In case you’ve tried all those, why not a fresh batch of ideas to start the new year off on the right foot, with a plan for multiple months worth of ad tests! Some of these ideas are based on new features released in the last year, and some just need to be revisited for posterity.

New(er) Territory

  • Feature/Benefit Matrix

Our very own Sam Owen shared this tip with the PPC Hero audience over the summer, and given my obsession with organization for ad testing efforts, I want to make sure no one forgets to start there with the new year’s ad tests. Here’s the example matrix Sam used in his post:

Jerrys-wigs-1

You basically fill in the matrix with your brand or product’s top 5 features (what makes your product/service/brand good?), and associated benefits with each of those features that you can tout. In terms of benefits, think about why the searcher should care about your features. You can then add the final column of varying calls to action and start making combinations from there. For feature 1, you pick benefit 1 with call to action 1. Then test the same feature and benefit, but different call to action. Go back to the original feature and call to action, but with a change up on the benefit. You’ve got quite a few ad tests laid out…right there!

  • Enhanced Ad Sitelinks

Match ‘em up and get a prize! At least, that’s kind of what enhanced sitelinks are all about. Essentially if you have regular text ads in your campaigns that match that campaign’s sitelink headlines, your search ads will populate with extensions to the extensions in the form of additional text. Looks something like this:

Enhanced Sitelinks example

There are obvious benefits to this feature (hey girl hey more ad space!), but when I say “test” it, I mean this is going to take some more work than many other ad test options. Reason being, you don’t just make enhanced sitelinks happen; you have to get your sitelink extension headlines to match your account ad copy just…so…perfectly, to get the extra copy to show. One stipulation of course, is you have to appear in the top ad positions and qualify for regular sitelinks to get the enhanced version. That could take bid testing on top of the ad testing, which could get convoluted when you start tearing down which object change was the cause of any change in performance.

Some Google-based case studies have reported significant increases in return on ads that appear with enhanced sitelinks. Searchers reported more relevancy by seeing them and account managers reported even higher CTRs than with traditional sitelinks alone. Bottom line: try to make it happen, and then analyze results accordingly.

  • Extended Ad Headlines

This may be another less-than-obvious test when it comes to ad copy (and not even really new, I had just kind of skipped over it before. Fail!), but I’d venture to say not many account managers thought to go back and purposely see if this feature assisted their click-through and/or conversion rates when it rolled out. Mostly because of the “automatic” tendency, similar to enhanced ad sitelinks. The largest requirement to testing this ad feature is to have your first description line be a continuation of your headline, forming a complete sentence, ending in a period/exclamation point/etc. Like this:

Extended Ad Headline example

Depending on how your messaging flows, this can require you to go back to the drawing board a bit and change up how you attack the copy. Analyzing this test can also be rather difficult, since there’s no segmentation for this ad form from your ad showing without the extended headline. For that reason, I strongly suggest this be one time you absolutely, positively do not test anything else on this ad/ad group/campaign after you amend ad copy to meet the criteria. That way you can compare performance before and after you made the change with statistically significant data, while being sure that optimization was the cause.

Oldies (aka: Tried & True)

  • Call to Action

The team at PPC Hero has posted a couple great articles this last year about how to test and analyze call to action statements in your ad copy. Certainly test those out and find one that truly works for your brand. Then once you’ve found a good one, keep testing until you find a great one! Which brings me to…

  • Keep. At. It.

This is the time for perseverance! I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had over the last year (which is why we’ll keep posting on the subject) with account managers who have stopped ad testing because they “found the best message.” Are your click-through and conversion rates at 100%? Then keep testing! The truth about ad testing is it’s half organization, half account management. Get the plan in place, and then make sure you keep at it!

 

What are you going to put on your testing list for this year? Any tests from last year with interesting results you’d like to share? Leave all your thoughts, questions, ideas and experiences in the comments section below!

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