When it comes to PPC contests, I love tweaks. You surely don’t ONLY want to run tweaks — you gotta test major changes in persuasive approach too — but there’s a ton you can learn from tweaking. Take this recent contest:


Just a few simple changes — not more than 3 tweaks total — and the CTR jumps by 40%. So what can we learn from those tweaks? Well, let’s look at ’em:


  • “Dog Slow” vs. “Slow”
  • “OsX” vs “MacOS”
  • “Super Quick” vs. “Quick”


And here’s what I pull out from that: two of the three changes are simply additions of adjectives and adverbs to the same base clause; dog added to slow, and super added to quick. No new information is being given here, just added color and emotion.


For example, “slow” could be a factual judgement, as if you ran a performance test and noticed the OS was running slow compared to it’s typical benchmark. But “Dog Slow” isn’t a dispassionate judgement. Dog slow is an expression of frustration and a description of a subjective experience — meaning that dog slow actually describes what the prospective customer is experiencing.


And that means that the searcher probably assumes that the software is better suited to handling very slow computers than competitors; that the offered service better matches the searcher’s needs.


Same thing with “Super Quick” vs. “Quick” — super quick is a subjective experience and offers greater promise without over-stretching it.


And that leaves “OsX” vs. “MacOS.” And, in my opinion, OS X is how most mac users talk about their operating system, or at least how they talk about it when they’re not mentioning the BIg Cat that the system is named after, like Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion, etc. But few Apple fanboys talk about MacOS. It’s either OS X or “Mountain Lion.” So even though the formatting is a bit messed up in “OsX,” it still comes off as more authentically “on-brand” / tribal than MacOS, which is usually how outsiders and PC-folk talk about Apple’s operating system for Macs.


In other words, all of the changes were small emotional tweaks. Why? First because this is where tweaks tend to excel, in finding words with just the right connotations to boost performance. Second, because if you’re selling a service to remove a frustration, then your offer had better be as emotional as your prospects — had better, in fact, speak directly to those emotions. And sometimes, the difference between speaking at and speaking to is as small as a one-letter tweak.