I’m mixing up this week a little bit by showing you both a WIN and a LOSS.

First, let’s look at this week’s Win of the Week, submitted by BoostCTR writer “jeffbaum71″. The new PPC ad beat the control by 28%.

BoostCTR Win of the Week - February 1, 2011
Why did the new ad win? At first, it’s hard to tell. After all, the control ad looks more official. It even reiterates the classic USMC slogan: “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”

Wouldn’t this appeal be more effective?

Well, clearly the numbers tell us that the appeal was not as effective. Here are a few reasons why I think the new ad won:


1. The winning ad uses the word “cool” twice. Perhaps this word resonates with Marines. They want cool stuff.

     2. The new title promotes “posters” instead of “gifts.” This implies that perhaps the majority of searchers are looking to buy stuff for themselves rather than a buddy.

     3. The new ad uses /Marines_Corps in the URL. For most searches, this will result in the URL being bolded so it stands out from other ads.

     4. But the biggest reason I think the new ad won is the phrase “Official fan designed”. In tests I’ve seen, the word “official” usually boosts CTR. Plus, I think there’s natural curiosity to see what other fans have designed.

Now, let me share with you a losing ad that I wrote. Here it is:

New Navy Ad Loses to Control Ad
As you can see, the ad I wrote resulted in -51% fewer clicks.

My approach was to try a more official ad. I looked up the U.S. Navy web site and incorporated their slogan into the ad. I used the word “apparel” instead of “t-shirts.”

I thought that perhaps these changes would increase CTR.

I was wrong.

I find it to be more than a coincidence that both the Marine Corps and Navy “slogan ads” lost.

It seems the more effective approach for advertising branded gear in the military market is to promote the fan-based nature of it, while staying away from slogans and mainstream phrases.

Here’s the takeaway to apply to whatever market you’re in:

Test official-sounding and authoritative ads against unofficial, fan-based, grass roots ads and see which approach wins in your market.

By the way, if you’re not a BoostCTR client yet, you should be. It’s one of the fastest ways to test new PPC ideas and get new winners.


ryan-healy About the Author: Ryan Healy is direct response copywriter and BoostCTR’s Director of Writer Development. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Alex Mandossian, Terry Dean, and Pulte Homes. He also writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth.