Writing Effective PPC Search Ads

Every time you write a pay-per-click search ad, you face a tremendous challenge. It’s not made easier by the number of other advertisers competing for the same spot. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to increase the odds that you’ll get a click-through and even a conversion.

Vic Drabicky, writing for Search Engine Land, knows how hard it can be. “You have keywords, bids, match types, tracking, and about 50 other things to worry about,” he conceded. But the biggest problem, in his eyes, is with the writing itself. In fact, to him it seems to be the one piece of the puzzle that is most obviously neglected. That ends up “costing advertisers money, clicks, and customers.”

If you can increase the quality of writing in your PPC search ads, you stand to gain large benefits. You can increase your traffic, your quality score, lower your cost per click (CPC) and ultimately increase your revenue (or whatever you hope to gain from increased conversions). Drabicky discusses three important things to keep in mind that will help you improve the writing on your PPC search ads to make them more effective.

The first point to remember is that you’re not chasing after every single click. Your goal is to capture profitable clicks. What this means is that you need to write an ad that qualifies your traffic. A click-through that ends up not converting because you were misleading in your ad is wasted money; remember, you’re paying by the click. Keep that in mind the next time you think lots of click-throughs for your PPC ads look great on your marketing report!

So if you’re selling a beer-making kit, don’t try to market it with the phrase “free beer” in the ad. A searcher using that phrase isn’t looking for what you’re offering; they’re only going to click through and then click away. “Make Your Own Beer” is much better, and more likely to attract buyers. A phrase like that helps you prequalify everyone who clicks through – and you won’t get searchers who are interested in finding free beer for which they won’t need to do a little work first. As Drabicky explains, “By simply shifting your focus from getting every click to getting every profitable click, you will not only improve your overall marketing effectiveness, but you will ultimately help you more clearly outline who your core customer might be.”
The second point to remember when you write your PPC is that you need to differentiate yourself – especially if you’re competing in a really crowded market. Drabicky uses men’s running shoes as an example, but the point can probably be made with almost any product. Do a search and take a look at the ads. Do they all look the same? Is there anything that leads you to believe one product is better than any of the others advertised? Do you think you’ll have a better purchasing experience or receive better customer service with any of them?

I’m mentioning these points to get you thinking about what it is that differentiates your product from your competition’s product. Give it some real thought. If you don’t know, you’ll never be able to convey it in an ad. What happens then? Drabicky noted that if he couldn’t tell which PPC ad offered the best product, “I suppose I would just click on all of them until I found the right one, which is bad for advertisers and consumers.” He advises you to look at what everyone else is saying about their products, and “then take a good look at your own business and figure out where the differences lie.” Maybe you can offer free shipping and free returns, or a better, faster, friendlier shopping experience.
The third point you need to keep in mind to make your pay-per-click ads more effective is that you need to focus on the value you are actually offering – or at least offer some kind of value. Of course this is Marketing 101; heck, it’s Sales 101, for that matter. It’s vital, however, that you don’t make up something that isn’t there. You’ll just be setting your customers up for disappointment, and yourself up for lots of headaches – and angry customers. “Rather than going in promising the world just to disappoint,” Drabicky advises, “talk about what you truly do offer that is different or better than what people expect.”

Sometimes it doesn’t take much beyond showing a personal side that reaches out to your customers. Drabicky discussed working with an athletic shoes company for which he ran a couple of tests. One of them got surprising results. They bought keywords relating to the New York City Marathon, but instead of throwing in a standard marketing message with lots of superlatives and exclamation points, “we wrote a simple message: Good luck in the marathon from your friends at [brand name here].”

As Drabicky puts it, “We actually tried to give value (luck) to our core customers, and they responded.” Click through rate increased massively, and so did conversions. “We repeated the test at various points surrounding other events, weather happenings, etc. – each time finding strong results by differentiating our message and giving our customers value.”

Personally, I disagree slightly with Drabicky’s interpretation. The value they were trying to give their customers wasn’t luck. It was a company that understands their customers’ needs, and that those needs come first – as represented by wishing their customers good luck in the NYC Marathon. Who wouldn’t want to buy from a company that so obviously thinks of their customers first and wants them to succeed?

So let’s quickly review these three points. First, go for profitable clicks, not all clicks, by including text that prequalifies your customers. Second, consider what differentiates you from your competition, and include it in your ad. Third, focus on the value you offer your customers, and put that front and center. If you keep these points in mind, you should be able to write PPC ads that are more powerful, more effective, and win you more conversions. Good luck! 

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