Which of the two ads below do you think performed better? The headlines are quite distinct, and the body of each ad is fairly different as well. The URLs are the same. Which approach do you think worked best?
This ad contest is interesting because the ads are quite different, yet the difference in CTR is relatively modest.
In this particular contest, the new winner is ad number two. The winning ad was written by "ctr_guru," and it increased CTR by 31%, which is about the average increase we see for all contests at BoostCTR. Where the old ad was getting 10 clicks, the new ad is getting 13.1 clicks.
So why did the new ad win? I have a few theories...
1. The winning ad uses a strong keyword phrase in the title. It's more likely a person will search for "online pawn shop" than "pawn items online." Another interesting approach used in the winning ad is the use of the company name in the title. This creates some visual interest and separation from the keyword phrase. It also gets the word "pawn" in the title twice.
2. Would you ever tell a friend that you want to sell an "item"? Probably not. I wouldn't say that either. I might say, "Hey, I want to sell my stuff." But I would never say, "Hey, I want to sell my item." By this measure, the language of the losing ad fails to enter the mind of the searcher.
3. The losing ad wastes space on an unnecessary concept. The complete sentence ("Pawn or Sell Your Item From the Comfort of Your Home") could be distilled down to "Pawn or Sell Your Item from Home." Use of the word "Comfort" (and its supporting words) is wasteful here.
4. If you were interested in selling your stuff, would you want to "pawn from home" or "pawn online"? I believe most folks would be looking to pawn online. A quick check of the search volume figures using the Google Keyword Tool confirms this. So the winning ad repeats this idea in the first line of body copy: "Sell Or Pawn With Confidence Online."
5. At this point, the winning ad still has a full line of ad space to use. It includes the "Free Shipping" offer since that could be a deciding factor for many searchers. And then, to cap it off, it includes a strong call to action: "Get Your Cash Now!" I like this call to action because people who pawn their stuff are looking for ... cash.
The bottom line: The new ad wins because it is uses language searchers are actively using and thinking about. Plus, because the ad space is used more efficiently, there's room to include a call to action as well. These details may seem insignificant, but they result in a 31% increase in CTR.
Whenever you set out to beat a PPC ad, one of the first things you should do is try to get inside the mind of the searcher.
- What do they really want?
- And what words are they using to find what they want?
By answering these questions up front, you'll be much closer to writing a winning ad.
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! 
 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.