[originally posted on Search Engine Watch]


Before writing a PPC ad, you might find yourself with this dilemma: When should your PPC copy create a powerful mental image of the product or service’s end benefit, and when should you focus on establishing credibility and addressing concerns about the path to achieving that benefit?Choice


In normal, longer-form copy, you don’t have to make such a stark choice since you can usually highlight both the benefits and prove your product or service’s ability to deliver that promised benefit. But that’s usually not an option when you’re limited to 90 characters.


So which do you pick?


Well, as usual, it all depends on the mindset of the searcher:


  • How far ahead are they looking?
  • How far along are they in their shopping and buying process?
  • Are they already preoccupied with any particularly pressing concerns or anticipated obstacles?


With all that in mind, care to guess which one of these ads achieved a 151 percent boost in click-through rate (CTR) over the other?



Ad 2 jumps to an end benefit of “Watch Them On Any Device You Want,” while Ad 1 focuses on the process: “Fast, Free & Easy. No registration or email required.”


So which ad won?


Version 1 increased CTR by 151 percent.


Seems that not being able to play a downloaded video on a smartphone or tablet isn’t a pressing concern for most searchers, while not having to buy anything or register for anything is a concern (or an anticipated obstacle) for a lot of searchers.


You could argue that Features won this battle. But you’d be ignoring the ads’ headlines, because it’s pretty clear that Ad 1’s headline is a lot more benefit focused than Ad 2’s.


Let’s take a look at another example:


Which one of these ads boosted CTR by 165 percent?




Well, the ads in this contest are even more clearly divided between benefit vs. feature-focused copy. So which ad do you think won?


Answer: Ad 1


Clearly, “Get Ripped in 90 Days” is a benefit statement, while “Extreme workouts!” and “Special TV Offer” are more feature oriented.


So what’s the final upshot?


  1. It pays to test both feature-focused and benefit-laden copy.
  2. Even within the same ad, it’s still possible to have a benefit-laden headline, but feature-rich body copy, and vice versa. So the balance within the ad is also worth testing.
  3. Features that address a pressing concern or provide added credibility are the features that typically provide the greatest boost.


But don’t take my word for it. Get out and run some benefits vs. features tests on your PPC ads and let me know all about your experience in the comments.