Win of the Week: Holiday-Appropriate Language Boosts CTR by 66%

October 26, 2011

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to feature a Halloween contest for the Win of the Week.

With that in mind, which ad would you click on if you were looking to get some Halloween cookies for a party ... or as a substitute for trick-or-treat candy?


PPC Ad #1
Halloween Cookies - Ad #1
PPC Ad #2
Halloween Cookies - Ad #2


There is no difference in the title text or in the URL. The only differences are in the body of the ad. Made your decision?

The winning ad is ad number two. It was written by "wordisborn," and it increased CTR by 66%. Where the original ad was getting 1 click, the new ad is getting 1.66 clicks.

Why did the new ad win? Let's take a look...

1. The original ad wastes space by using the word "Smiley." Indeed, the cookies do have a "smiley face," but that detail is somewhat irrelevant for a person who's searching for Halloween cookies. The expression on the cookie is not a detail worth including. (Not to mention the phrase "Halloween Smiley Cookies" is a little bit awkward. "Halloween" and "Smiley" just don't seem to go together.)

2. The winning ad uses language that's appropriate for the Halloween season. The word "Scary" is an excellent tie-in to just about any Halloween product. Plus, the question "Want Cookies So Good It's Scary?" gets searchers to nod their heads in agreement.

3. The winning ad closes the body copy with a strong call to action that includes the primary keyword phrase. "Order Sweet Halloween Cookies Now!" gets searches to click and take action.

4. I like the phrase "Fresh Baked Cookies" in the losing ad, but it's not enough to overcome the winning ad's strength. The winning ad is nicely divided between the two lines: one line ends with a question mark, the other with a call to action and an exclamation point. The losing ad has a sentence divided between lines one and two, no call to action, and only uses periods -- all indications of an ad that will produce lower CTR.

The bottom line: The new ad wins because it uses language that’s appropriate for the Halloween season (“scary” instead of “smiley”). Plus, the structure of the winning ad is better. It keeps each sentence on its own line, uses a strong call to action, and ends the ad with an exclamation point.

There's one more thing I'd like to point out about this contest...

Whenever I'm writing a new ad to compete against a control ad, I always review the landing page and pay close attention to the language and offers that appear there. The writer of the winning ad above -- "wordisborn" -- apparently uses the same technique. Here is what's currently on the landing page:


Halloween Cookies


Notice the copy that says "So Good, It's Scary!" The author of the winning ad took this idea and used it in his ad -- very smart. This not only improved CTR, but I bet it improved conversions as well because of the consistency between the ad copy and the landing page.

Next time you're writing PPC ads, make sure you closely examine the landing page. The winning idea may be hiding in plain sight!

What's your takeaway from this contest? Feel free to leave a comment below.

By the way...

The BoostCTR writers have collectively spent thousands of hours improving pay-per-click ads on both Google and Facebook. They increase CTR and conversions by 30% on average. Go ahead and put 'em to work ... risk-free for 30 days!

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


Richard Kraneis
Oct 26, 2011

Google Search or Google Content Network?

Today I took a very active interest in your blog post. Like a good researcher I tried in vain to find the same ad for Google Adwords.

Would you mind revealing whether this ad is running for Google Search or Google Content Network?

In my own mind I can't imagine running a profitable cookie campaign using Google Search because of high PPC costs but I think it would be possible with Google Content Network advertising.

For future posts can you indicate whether the improved CTR came from a Google Search ad or a Google Content Network ad?

Thanks for considering revealing that answer. (No, I don't sell Halloween cookies.)

Ryan Healy
Oct 26, 2011

Hi Richard,I don't have a good way of checking at this moment, but I'm fairly confident it was a Search contest since the KeyWord function was used in the title text.If it had been on the Display network, then it would have been a static title.Ryan

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