Trust-Based PPC Marketing

By Joe Martinez | @MilwaukeePPC | Senior Manager, Paid Media & Community at Granular

Do you remember Domino’s Pizza before 2009? If not, I don’t blame you. Their stock hit an all-time low in 2008, and a YouTube video showing employees doing disgusting things with the food left the company’s image at an all-time low. It was a wake-up call for the company to make a change in both product and branding.


How did this move help Domino’s get back to a positive year-over-year sales increase in a multi-billion dollar U.S. pizza delivery business? Trust.Their $75 million rebound campaign was met with much praise. Here’s just one version of the many videos they released.


In a 2009 interview with Forbes, Domino’s Chief Marketing Officer Russell Weiner made it clear the “emphasis on transparency and consumer involvement highlights that winning trust is still a major focus.” They weren’t promoting the products. They were promoting themselves.


So what does this have to do with PPC? A lot. Beyond the automation tools and spreadsheets, we’re still marketers at the core. We still need to reach and connect with an audience if our goal is immediate conversion. That’s why there needs to be some sort of emphasis on trust in your PPC marketing. In this blog, I hope to show you how to start utilizing this practice in your campaigns with real examples.


Certain Ad Extensions Already Help You Build Trust


We already know ad extensions have a direct effect on your ad rankings. Besides making Google happy, they will help build a relationship with your customers. With the fairly recent addition of callout and structured snippet ad extensions, advertisers can now shift the sales-focused wording in extensions to allow value messages to shine in the main description lines. Here’s an ad from State Farm when searching for “car accident insurance.”


state farm ad


This ad has callout extensions, structured snippet extensions, and a review extension. State Farm moved all the messaging that applies to a majority of their services to the extensions allowing the ad text to focus on value propositions such as a discount and their brand statement.


Automated extensions, like seller ratings extensions and consumer survey extensions, offer another opportunity to be transparent with your users. Since the advertiser doesn’t control these extensions, it gives potential customers a third-party source to establish confidence in the decision-making process.


macys ad


Not all of the ratings for Macy’s are positive, but they are honest. The odds of a potential consumer feeling deceived will be smaller because the ratings come from actual customers. Google has great documentation to help make sure you know how to be eligible for automated ad extensions. The more value-focused ad extensions you have, the better your ad will look to potential customers.


Be The Salesperson Who Offers Positive Experiences


Gallup conducted an Honesty/Ethics in Professions poll in December 2014 showing the most and least trusted professions in the United States. Car salespeople were at the bottom of the list. (Advertising practitioners aren’t much better).


gallup poll
Image courtesy of Gallup, Inc.


It may be unfair to mentally lump all salespeople into the car salespeople category, but a general  stigma on salespeople exists. I know my usual reaction to a salesperson approaching me is, “!@#$.” But whether we like it or not, we PPCers are salespeople trying to hawk our products and services online. Maybe shoving your products in the user’s face is not the best approach. Try showing how their lives are going to be better with your products. Here’s a comparison for the search term “diamond engagement rings.”


diamond rings ppc ad


I was sold on the first ad for a simple, but crucial, reason. “She’ll Say Yes.” I’ve been there. Buying a ring and proposing is a big (sometimes nerve-wracking) step. This ad is not selling the product. It’s selling the comfort of making the right choice. The second ad was a turn-off for me. Just like a stereotypical salesperson, the second ad goes right into financing. Then it tells me to hurry up and buy today. This is an ad focused purely on sales and not on the user. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s no way I’m rushing into a purchase of this kind. Nurture me a little bit more before asking me for my hard earned money. We’re talking custom diamond rings here!


Stop Focusing On The WHAT And Concentrate On The WHY


Step back and think about how specific your industry is. If you’re selling a precise service, and your keyword targeting is dead-on, then most likely your target audience is going to have a basic understanding of what your company does whether they’ve heard of you or not. I searched for “doggie day care” since I have a pretty good knowledge what services an animal daycare would provide.




The ad in the second position has description lines that mention services any ordinary doggie daycare might offer. There’s nothing special here. The ad in the first position is a different story. This company has a headline to assure me they’re near me and they’re a loving company (Something important to animal owners). I see multiple price point messages showing I’ll get good value on my first stay as well as future visits. They chose to use one of their sitelinks to showcase their press appearances to build trust from third-party sources. And of course, the ratings ad extension only further helps me feel better about clicking this ad. No mention of what they do, just why they’re the best. Let’s take a look at another example for the ad in the first position when I searched, “childrens surgeons.”


childrens hospital ad


Again notice how the ad doesn’t mention what they do. Why? Because people are already familiar with what goes on at a children’s hospital. Most likely those times in people’s lives aren’t fun to dwell upon. So this ad takes the emotional approach by showing why a parent would pick this hospital. The headline will connect with any parent who wants the best care for their kid. Then the second description line and callout extensions provide additional value statements. One might argue that they repeat “#1” too much. I would argue that they’re driving home that there is no other option. If you really need to know their exact services, it’s a sitelink extension. No real need to make the ad text all about the variety of services.


Your Landing Pages Need To Duplicate The Trust Your Ads Portrayed


When someone clicks on your ad, they’ve most likely connected with something you said in your ad text. Whether it’s a keyword-rich headline or a sale called out in an extension, you must relay those messages to your landing page. To be blunt, don’t be a liar. Here’s an example when looking for “rental cars in chicago.” Priceline’s ad easily caught my eye.


priceline car ad


I see an inexpensive price in the headline, good ratings, and meaningful value statements in my callout extensions. So what does their landing page look like for this ad?


priceline landing page


Goodbye, trust. Hello, confusion. There is no mention of Chicago at all. They’re talking about Miami in the top right section!  In the same box I see the price-per-day is cheaper than what the ad mentioned. Yes, it’s a better deal, but you’re already telling me something different than the ad. It’s clear they’re using a generic landing page for all of their ads, but how much better could their PPC performance be if at least the biggest cities had dedicated landing pages? Just a simple edit of changing the background image to the Chicago skyline would make me feel more comfortable that I’ve landed on the correct page.


Let’s take a look at an enjoyable experience for when I searched for “exterminator milwaukee.” I highlighted each value statement in a different color.


milwaukee exterminator ad


Again, here’s another ad that uses the extended headline and ad extensions to push value instead of just what they do. How do these value statements relay to the landing page?


exterminator landing page


All of the trust elements from the ad are laid out on the landing page. Since the design is simple, the user can see all of the value messages they read in the ad. This company is solidifying the trust with their users in hopes to give the confidence they need to make the decision to convert right away. I will argue any day that your landing pages are one the most important parts of PPC. You can have the perfect keyword targeting all you want, but if your landing pages offer a disconnected experience, you’re losing conversions. Review your landing pages and confirm they carry the same message and voice you’re using in your ads.




Take a step back from your keyword lists and focus on your audience for a bit. Try to get in their heads and understand what will connect with their needs the most. Before launching a PPC campaign ask yourself the following questions…


  • Are your ads believable?
  • Are you giving people a reason why they should click on your ad versus the competition?
  • What problem is your ad going to solve?
  • Does your landing page reiterate everything you said in your ads (This includes potential ad extensions being visible)?


Connecting with your users, and following up on your claims, provides a desirable user experience that helps builds brands. Test out various ad messages and landing pages to see what elements engage your audience the most. Earn the trust of your users. See your conversion rates grow. Build your brand loyalty.