Web Professionals should recognize the title of this post from Steve Krug’s justly famous book, Don’t Make Me Think. The main premise of the book is that Website design and interfaces should be intuitive. Designs that aren’t intuitive, and that requirer thought on the part of the user, will underperform in terms of user task completion and conversions.


I think the same is largely true for PPC Ads. Can readers understand the advertised offer without having to think about it? Does it match up exactly with what the searcher is really hoping to find? Or are there mismatches?


And in the case of PPC Ads, mismatches don’t just cause the searcher to have to think — they cause her to doubt. To doubt whether this is the right X or the company is really on the level, or if the product or service will really deliver Y, and so on.


I mention this because the “Don’t Make Me Doubt” principle is the primary difference between the two ads in this Win of the Week Contest. So with that in mind, see if you can’t pick the winner:


Answer: Ad A increased CTR by 111%. Here’s a line-by line breakdown:


The Headline


The wining ad’s headline is instantly understandable — it’s a dating site for those 40 years old or older, a message that’s instantly confirmed by reading the body copy. You now have total confidence in the what’s being advertised.


In contrast, the losing ad makes you think. What’s “(40+) Dating”? Sure, you might guess that 40+ is referring to age, but it’s not instantly understandable. Plus, if you’re left just guessing and then look to the body copy for confirmation, you’re sorrowfully out of luck, cause there’s nothing in the body copy to indicate a dating site for 40+ singles.


The 1st Line of Body Copy


The winning ad’s first line of copy launches into the motivation behind the search. If someone is consciously looking to meet older singles, their not just looking for age compatibility, but emotional maturity. And it does this in a way that reinforces the messaging of the headline.


The losing ad’s first line of body copy also addresses compatibility, but in a way that would be generic to almost any dating site. There’s nothing about this line that would be unique to the 40+ dating demographic.


The Second Line of Body Copy

The winning ad’s second line of body copy closes with a Call to Action that echoes and reaffirms the messages from both the headline and the first line of copy. “Serious” means no “games & gimmicks” and “mature” means both 40+ and emotionally compatible.


The losing ad’s second line of body copy makes the search for 40+ singles sound creepy, but changing it from a desire for emotional maturity and compatibility to a desire for “affluence,” as if it’s targeted to gold diggers, or something. So not only is the messaging not compatible with the rest of the ad, but it’s off-putting as well.


Clear & Vivid Ad Writing Wins the Day


Ad copy that’s on-target in terms of keywords and searcher motivations wins. This is probably the most consistent principle in PPC Ad writing, with most of the tips and tricks given out centering on ways to effectively implement this principle.


But the second most consistent principle involves clear and vivid writing. If you make the offer clear, and you create the right mental images in the mind of the searcher, your ad will win out over unclear and/or uninspired ad copy. The “Don’t Make Me Doubt” dynamic speaks to this principle.


So don’t create doubt with any single line of your copy, and make sure that each line and phrase of body copy is consistent with the main message of the ad to ensure maximum clarity.