September 27, 2010
Today is the final installment of our “how can I make it Better?” series. If you haven’t been keeping up, our topics thus far have been on improving account structure, quality score, landing pages, click-through rate, and now today I’m finishing up with ad writing.
I’m going to hog some glory here by claiming my section the most important but don’t tell Jen, Amy, Erin, or Jenny. Before I get myself into trouble, let me backpedal a bit. Having four sisters, I know picking a fight with four women is a bad idea. Although I wish my section were the most important, the reality is, every aspect of your PPC account is equal and should work in harmony. It takes a combination of every aspect to have a successful campaign.
What I want to get across is, in the end, it all comes down to the ad – the moment you interact with an individual. If your ad isn’t compelling enough for a click, all your hard work leading up to that point didn’t mean a thing. Your ad may be the only opportunity you have to spark interest in a potential customer so you want to put your best foot forward.
So how do you make it better? There really isn’t any one answer. A good place to start is in determining the current state of your ads and what you can do to make them better. I’m going to cover some best practices to help identify what you’re doing right and what might need some work. Google has a great help article on ad writing best practices but here’s a short list to get us started:
- Include your keyword in the ad (preferably in the title).
- Include one or more benefits.
- Have a strong call-to-action.
- Create an appropriate display URL.
- Use all of your character space.
- Test your ads.
I’ll go into detail on all of these topics and expand on some areas where you can improve when you find a weak point.
Using Keywords: There are several reasons why you would want to use a keyword in an ad. The primary reason is that it helps solidify the relationship between what the user is searching for and what you are offering. Take a look at this screenshot.
You’ll notice two things.
- Google Instant has populated this search as being “sigg water bottles” (notice the gray words in the search bar).
- Anywhere you see any of those words on the results page (including paid, organic, and even the display URLs), it’s bolded.
You can make your ad text better by looking through your AdGroups and finding the best performing keyword and also the highest search volume keyword and writing some ads that incorporate these keywords. Using them in the title is best because they will draw the most attention.
Benefits: When writing ads, it’s important to offer your potential customer a benefit to click on the ad. You want them to know why you are better than your competition. If they can buy a widget anywhere, why should they buy it from you? This section should be the easiest to write but sometimes it can be a challenge. To make your benefits better, look at your value proposition and your current customers. What are you offering and why are your current customers, customers?
If you understand what brought people to you in the first place, you can write your offer around that. Do people shop with you because you have free shipping? Try adding “Free Shipping” to your ad text. Do people enjoy your newsletter because it’s the most informative? Most Frequent? Has the most Pictures? It doesn’t matter what the benefit is as long as it’s real. Find a reason why people like you and incorporate it into your ad text.
Call-To-Action: Your call to action is what you want your customer to do. If you don’t have one, it’s easier for them to walk away. There are several ways to accomplish this and most will depend on your goal. Are you selling something? Try using words like buy or purchase. Your call to action doesn’t always have to be so bold though. Browse could be an equally effective word and doesn’t come off as being so brash. The key to a call-to-action is finding one that works for you. Don’t be afraid to try several. Here are three good examples to look at:
Best Buy was the most forward. Their call to action is literally “Buy Home Theater Products at Best Buy®.” Sears took a more gentle approach in asking us to “Shop Now!” while Panasonic simply wants us to “Learn More.” In the end, each company wants us to do something and they weren’t afraid to ask us to do so. I’d be willing to bet their click-through-rates are better because of it. To make your ads better, find a way to incorporate a call to action and make sure it’s appropriate to what you want your customer to do.
Display URL: If you don’t already know, your display URL can and should (in most cases) be different than your destination URL. Generally speaking, you want to keep your display URL simple and you want to speak to your customer’s search query. This is another area where incorporating a keyword is a good idea. You want to consider using a broader keyword that encompasses the entire AdGroup. If you look at the Sigg bottle picture above, notice the third paid ad for getngreen.com. Their display URL reads the same as their homepage. Now look at the REI ad above it. REI does a better job in this one by incorporating the keyword into the Display URL. Even better, they put it in all CAPS so it sticks out more by being bolded. If you aren’t using custom Display URLs, start doing so and your ads will be better.
Character Space: I’ll keep this section short and sweet… use your character space. If you have room, find another benefit. Most of us have trouble cutting back our ads, if you have trouble filling them, something has gone wrong. The character limitations should be easy to hit so make sure to get the most out of it. Also, use punctuation where it makes sense. Search engines don’t always split your ads by line.
Test: This is probably the most important part of ad writing. Once you get in the flow of using a benefit and call-to-action, the rest is a game of chance where there will only be one winner. Always make sure you’ve got at least two ads running in your AdGroups. Let your clicks tell you which ad is better. Once a clear winner has been decided, start a new experiment with a new ad. The more ads you write the more surprised you’ll be at the results of your tests. One thing I would suggest when writing ads for a new campaign is to pick which one you think is the best before you start the campaign. This should help you get a feel for what your customers want. If you think you wrote the best ad in the world but it turns out to be a dud, look at which one performed and try to understand why.
In closing, although it isn’t necessarily part of ad writing, I’d like to remind you to have a proper landing page setup for your ads. The ad itself can only take you so far, if the user doesn’t find what they’re looking for after the click, you just spent money and got no return.