Nobody bats a thousand. Sounds obvious, but in optimization circles, that counts as wisdom that needs repeating. Nobody who split tests on a regular basis goes a month without at least one unexpected test result.
In other words, you can’t rely on your gut. If you don’t believe me, go to WhichTestWon.com and see for yourself just how often your gut instinct proves wrong.
And this dynamic is only exacerbated with PPC. With a landing page or a website, you’ve got a lot of room to cover a lot of bases, meaning you can quite often get the best of multiple options with a given design or messaging choice. That’s just not possible with PPC – you have to make brutal choices of what’ll fit into the ad and what gets left out.
And prospective customers often find tried and true appeals un-compelling while responding quite strongly to stuff most of us wouldn’t have selected as our “fist cut” ad content. Here’s a perfect example:
Now, doesn’t the LOSING ad look quite a bit more punchy and info-packed? I mean that’s the ad with both the price and the 100% satisfaction guarantee info, right? But the other ad won…
Why? Well, according to the writer, Baum71, he wanted to emphasize the “professional designer outsourcing” nature of the service, on one hand, and to de-emphasize the previous implied call to action. And by that we mean that Ad Word ads which don’t have an explicit call to action, can be assumed to have an implied CTA – that of “Click here to buy now.”
But “Buy now” isn’t always the right CTA if the prospective customer isn’t yet ready to buy. Customers who are still researching need a less aggressive CTA, and “Learn More!” is precisely targeted at that kind of buyer. And in this instance, JeffBaum71’s writing strategy paid off with a 53% lift in CTR.
Then there’s this next ad from the very same campaign (written by a Booster operating under the user name of chewiness) which, while easy to explain in hindsight, isn’t quite as obvious when you’re the one sitting in the writer’s chair, staring at the blank ad text form:
Again, in retrospect, the winning ad managed to squeeze out an unsubstantiated claim of “high quality invitation designs” in favor of including fast-turnaround info. Moreover, the winning ad amped up the emotional impact of the guarantee from “Invitation Designs with a 100% Guarantee” to “Love Your Invitation or 100% Money Back.” All of which makes picking out the winning ad something of a no-brainer.
Except that doesn’t help you write the winning ad BEFORE hand. For that you have to do the research into the product, from an outsider’s perspective, and use a bit of psychology to pick out an un-leveraged appeal to the buyer, which in this case was “fast turnaround.”
How do I know that this is trickier than it looks? Because the 7-day turnaround isn’t something 99 Designs emphasizes on their landing page. The writer had to dig for it, and then take a chance on testing it.
And here’s the thing: the success of that test (a 51% boost in CTR) means that 99Designs.com would be smart to test similar messaging on their regular product pages. It means that this buyer concern — how fast till I get the winning design — is likely more prominent and important than they realized. Something they might never have known without testing…
So what’s the point?
First, there’s no magic bullet for winning PPC Ads; you’ve gotta to the optimization work and split tests to make it happen.
Second, writing PPC ads is as demanding a copywriting job as any direct response channel out there, and it pays to have ad writers who know how to think and strategize around what to test, because sometimes the not-so-obvious stuff is what provides both the CTR and CR lifts AND the key customer insights that drive profitability.