Writing Your Best PPC Ads (Guestpost)

Mon 22 June 2009 10:30, Editors

Writing Your Best PPC Ads (Guestpost)

Kate Morris loves to speak at conferences. When I sat in on her talk on SMX London I understood why. She is a natural speaker. Kate talked about the subject she writes about today: writing a good ppc-ad. This is something which many people still underestimate. The post on that talk will be online soon (when data is recovered) but who better to hear it from than from the expert herself?

Kate Morris is a Co-Founding Demon at MarketingDemons.com, based in the US. She is currently working as a search marketing consultant focusing on PPC, SEO, and Social Media Management and Training.

Writing Your Best PPC Ads

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” -David Ogilvy

A good paid campaign is composed of three things. The first is the keyword list. You can't locate your potential customers/clients unless you know what they are looking for, and how. Keyword and competitive research is a whole topic within itself, but that is not what this article is about. If you want a good read on keyword research, check out what Search Cowboys has to offer. There are others, but I am sure you can find them with a quick search. ;)

Now the third part of the campaign (yes, I skipped, stay with me here) is the landing page. There is tons of research on landing page optimization, but again, I am not going to delve into that. Unless you really wanna be here all day. {Knowing smile}

Writing the Ad
The second is the ad. You have a matter of seconds to convince a searcher that you are the ad they need to click on. Your ad campaign can be made or broken with one badly written ad. Okay, I'm being a drama queen just a bit, but a well optimized ad can increase your ROI more than you think.

Just as Ogilvy said in his quote above, the headline of your ad is really the bulk of your real estate. Not in space (25 characters vs 70 for body in Google), but in weight of importance to grabbing the searchers attention.

Dynamic Titles
One way to grab attention and increase click through rate (CTR) is to use dynamically inserted keywords. It increases the chances that your ad title will match that of what the searcher was looking for. People come up with so many ways to say one thing, you can never be sure to have an ad with their exact phrasing unless you dynamically insert it. I have campaigns that have seen a 5-6% lift in CTR with dynamically inserted keywords for titles. Want to know how to do it? Google instructions here.

But there can be a downside to this. I have seen so may campaigns use this feature wrong. Before you decide to use dynamic titles, be sure that your ad group is very specific. You don't want your ad showing for a general search. The ad copy has to match the title that will appear. Here are a few examples of ads that didn't really understand. They aren't the worst examples I have seen, but you can see how the ad groups were not set up correctly for the keyword insertion.
Standing Out
Dynamic insertion can work, but I have seen campaigns where having a bolded title actually hindered conversions. Now, notice I switched metrics there. In one campaign I ran, the CTR was better on the generic ad with the keyword title, but the ads with more random and catchy titles converted better. So a NOTE: Always be tracking conversions. Traffic only goes so far in campaigns. A great CTR is worthless if customer's are not buying.

By standing out I mean having a title that is different. You can accomplish this by utilizing things like Numbers (Ex. 1), Characters (Ex. 2), and Eye Catching Phrases (Ex. 3). Bolding does draw the eye, but not when all of your competitors are doing the same. So do some research before picking your headlines. And I say plural because if you're not testing multiple ads per ad group, you are missing out.
Phone Numbers
Now there are a number (no pun intended) of other ways to make your ad stand out. Headline or not, the numbers thing works. It's like a resume, it looks better and gets a better rate of return when there are numbers in it. Now, there has been a debate over phone numbers within ads.

Pros - It makes your ad stand out, gives your company a different level of trust right out of the gate, and *can* reduce PPC cost if the customer just calls instead of clicking. Now that *can* is there because I have never seen a campaign that saved money from this. Not saying they haven't, but don't do it for that reason.

Cons - The phone number has to be specific to the ad campaign, preferably to the ad or keyword (unlikely that'll happen), this is to track what calls are coming in from the campaign. Tracking what is working best only works if all your campaigns have their own contact information. Other downside is that the less people click on your ad the worse your CTR gets. The algorithm inside the platforms will see this as a sign of poor relevance. Not that it'll happen fast, or that it'll happen at all, but it is something that CAN happen.

With those two put forth, I will say that ads with phone numbers for local businesses is a winner. The trust and differentiation balances out everything else. (And I personally think people click on the ad anyway.)
To Click or Not to Click
That is the question answered within milliseconds of performing a search. Take the time to do your research and plan out the very best ads. If you have the right keywords, ads, and landing pages, the sky is the limit as to how well your campaign can perform.

  • Comments (19)
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Comments (19)


  • "Want to know how to do it? Google instructions here." missing a link?

    Ma 22 jun 2009, 11:10

  • Sorry Brett, I'll get that fixed ASAP. Until then go here: http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=74996

    Ma 22 jun 2009, 13:56

  • That would be my mistake. :). Fixed it!

    Ma 22 jun 2009, 15:03

  • Great article! I agree on all points. Love the phone number idea for local business. Could be difficult to track, but worth a try.
    ps. Love your writing style as well!

    Ma 22 jun 2009, 23:37

  • Hi

    This is interesting. Particularly about the phone number in the ad.
    We are testing whether searchers use the phone number before clicking an ad (we have written a whitepaper that can be downloaded here http://www.freshegg.com/call-track-id.htm#download to tell you how to track offline telephone calls in Google Analytics).

    We have been running this test for a client for 2 months and only one call has been made before click-through. However, it does appear that conversion improves as you suggest.
    If you wwant to talk about this as a case study - let me know and I'd love a chat (we are UK-based).

    Nikki Rae

    Di 23 jun 2009, 11:49

  • Todd- thanks for the compliments. Glad you like my writing style. :)

    Nikki - I'd very very interested to hear how that's going. Nice to hear my hunch is kinda proven. :)

    Di 23 jun 2009, 16:47

    • Diane Hader

    Great read. I like how you mentioned using phone numbers in the ad (also use them on the top of your LP as well). Though hundreds of different toll-free numbers may help you track a little better, using a vanity number increased our CTR and call volume. Our firm is pleased will the great increase though we lost some trackability, it was still worth it. We got ours from www.vanitytollfreenumbers.com. Give them a shot and see if your responses go up.

    Di 23 jun 2009, 17:04

    • Diane Hader

    Great read. I like how you mentioned using phone numbers in the ad (also use them on the top of your LP as well). Though hundreds of different toll-free numbers may help you track a little better, using a vanity number increased our CTR and call volume. Our firm is pleased will the great increase though we lost some trackability, it was still worth it. We got ours from www.vanitytollfreenumbers.com. Give them a shot and see if your responses go up.

    Di 23 jun 2009, 17:28

  • Good article. We have used phone numbers in ads for years. The trick is simple, we bid high and incrementally increase the bid until we achieve top spot. After a set amount of time we pull the bid down and monitor the CTR and corresponding position until it falls below 3rd spot. When it does we once again increase the bid. Since we are using a bid as our main tool to influence the Q score and obtain high rankings, these bids can seem astronomical at first blush, however if you monitor sales after the call and lifetime Customer Value you can determine if that additional cost is offset by the increase in sales revenue. For many high margin and residual sales models it is.

    Ma 6 jul 2009, 14:51

  • Hi Kate,

    Nice article. I particularly agree with using prices in headlines - I've found it to be effective in improving CTR and conversion rate on many occasions, especially when the product or service is the lowest price.

    For uncompetitive prices though, I would recommend against it.

    Do 23 jul 2009, 05:36

  • Great writeup and I especially love the section on dynamic ads. Lots of great advice in the article and comments that I look forward to including in our ads in the future.

    Thanks and Good Job!

    Ma 24 aug 2009, 19:11

  • This is a really good article with really good advice. Keep up the good work!!

    Ma 1 mrt 2010, 13:07

  • This is a really great article with some very wise points as to how best to apporoach and undertake a PPC ad campaign. The idea of a phone number in your ad can only be a good way to represent "I want business" and to show you are highly approachable.

    There is certainly plenty to go away and think about and put into use

    Di 13 jul 2010, 20:04

  • Great post Kate - I've always preferred targeting organic SEO as opposed to spending money with PPC - certainly an extremely interesting read though.

    I know Nikki as well and the CallTrackID system she's talking about is excellent - well worth talking to her about.


    Do 6 jan 2011, 18:43

  • That's interesting Kate, I never knew you could dynamically add keywords on adwords. I normally prefer to spend time on organic results but am now working on a site with so many variations it would take forever to cover them all with on site seo.

    Za 8 jan 2011, 12:30

  • Kate, thanks-great info for anyone looking to get extra business via ppc ads
    . I think we will all have to go this way sooner or later, as google is likely to keep the best positions more and more for ads it makes money from.

    Di 1 feb 2011, 11:42

  • Taking the scientific approach to ppc like this has got to save wasted effort and time.

    Wo 2 feb 2011, 13:44

    • shirleyburrill

    I am impressed with your site, because it looks so beautiful and you have maintained the posts very clearly. I am searching this kind of site for posting my article. I would like to share my post to your blog (as guest post) with my website link. Mostly I focus on the education related topics and also my post is unique.
    I am waiting for your reply.
    Thank You,

    Wo 12 feb 2014, 05:47

  • Well! this is Minnesota web designers who are working for Proweb365 which provide full MN web design services.

    Do 20 feb 2014, 16:28


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