Win of the Week: Spelling It Out to Increase CTR by 65%


How would you like to see a sequence of ads instead of just one winner and one loser? This will give you better insight into the reasons why one ad wins ... and other ads lose. With that in mind, I'm showing you four ads instead of two.

These ads paint a more accurate picture of the BoostCTR contest process. It is not uncommon for the first two or three submissions to lose to the control ad. After repeated attempts to "dethrone" the control ad, a new winner is discovered.

Such is the case below. The first two ads that were submitted by our writers did NOT win. These two ads lost to the control ad by 22% and 26% respectively. Take a look...

Losing Challenger #1
Vibram - Loser #1
Losing Challenger #2
Vibram - Loser #2


Since I bought a pair of Vibram Fivefingers last spring and have been wearing them almost every day, I can see why the first ad lost. Most people don't buy a pair of Fivefingers to "keep the gravel and grit out." Most buy them because they want to simulate barefoot running. There is a growing number of people who want a pair as a comfortable alternative to flip-flops or just to strengthen their foot and calf muscles.

Determining why the second ad lost is more difficult. I assume it's because of the structure of the first sentence. The inclusion of the word "but" at the end of line one seems to negate what comes before it. The ad probably would have done better had that word been deleted. (The ad actually reads smoother that way.)

Two other minor points:

  1. There is a misspelling in the first line of body copy. "Your" should be spelled "You're"... as in, "You Are." This may have caused a few searchers to "stumble" as they read the ad.
  2. Buyers of Fivefingers aren't looking for a feeling; they're looking for a product that helps them perform a certain activity. So starting the body copy with the word "Feel" probably doesn't resonate with the target market.

Which brings us to the two ads below. One of them is the new winner. The other one is the control ad which beat the two ads above, but lost to the new ad. Can you pick the new winner?

PPC Ad #1
Vibram - Ad #1
PPC Ad #2
Vibram - Ad #2

Made your decision? Okay... let's see if you got it right.

In this particular contest -- the third contest in the series -- the old control is ad two and the new winner is ad one. The winning ad was written by "patrickfromtherock," and it increased CTR by 65%.

So what made the difference between these two ads? Let's take a look...

1. The winning ad makes an important change to the title. It spells out the number 5 as "five." This is important because the product name is also spelled out. In fact, there is no space in the product name. It is simply Vibram Fivefingers.

2. The losing ad uses up all the ad space with a single sentence. This sentence is vague and includes unnecessary copy. For instance, what does "All of the Sweetness Left In" really mean? The average searcher is not going to ponder this. He'll just move on. The copy could easily be condensed to read "Barefoot Running Without Pain" -- and there would be a LOT of room to say something else that is more specific.

3. The winning ad capitalizes on the control ad's weakness and is able to say twice as much in the same amount of space. Line one is confined to the core benefit: "Run Like You're in Your Barefeet." This is the primary reason people buy Fivefingers shoes.

4. At this point, the winning ad makes a specific reference to the store that is selling the Fivefingers by promising a big selection. "All Sizes & Colors Available!" lets the searcher know he should be able to find the exact size and style he wants. Click.

5. The winning ad breaks up the body copy into two distinct sentences on two separate lines, which capitalizes on Google's extended title format. What's more, the winning ad ends with an exclamation point, which often lifts CTR.

The bottom line: The new ad wins because it spells the product name more correctly, uses the space more efficiently, and promises searchers they should be able to find the exact pair of Fivefingers they want.

What's your takeaway from this series of contests? How will you apply what you learned to the next PPC ad you write? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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.

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Aug 10, 2011

A good post Ryan. Too many people just rely on the numbers without looking deeper at why a specific advert won. All of the conclusions are sound, and you've got a great base of ideas for the next test adverts. Thanks for the tips on what to look for.

Ryan Healy
Aug 11, 2011

Thank you. After analyzing dozens of such PPC contests, it's amazing to see many of the same advertising principles working over and over again.

Kyle Byers
Mar 30, 2012

Interesting article, but there are important factors that prevent us from drawing specific conclusions from your study: 1) The winning ad uses dynamic keyword insertion. It is the only ad to do so.2) Each ad has multiple unique points, which makes it impossible to isolate which factor(s) led to the differences in CTR.To conclusively test ads against each other, you have to test multiple variations of the same ad--not a small handful of completely different ads. Altering any one dimension will impact user behavior, so it's important to isolate each variable before making assumptions about which changes caused meaningful improvements in performance.

Elisa Gabbert
Mar 30, 2012

Hi Kyle,A number of people have pointed out that the ads in this series made more than one change. It's a point well taken, but I think what Ryan is trying to do is zoom out a bit and look at all the possible explanations for the increase in CTR. BoostCTR works on a crowdsourced model, so it's actually multivariate, not A/B, testing that is going on behind the scenes, and there are usually multiple differences between the original ad and the one that eventually wins.When it comes to testing, I think there are 2 approaches: some people are control freaks and want to know exactly what changes are responsible for improvements. If you're a control freak, you'll definitely only want to make one change at a time. The other approach is to just go wild. I've known plenty of marketers who don't really care if they can explain why (with 100% accuracy) one test won over another -- they just want to a higher conversion or click-through rate.I fall somewhere in the middle (so I guess there are more than 2 approaches, huh?) -- in an ideal world you want to test one thing at a time. But that's not always the fastest way to the top.Thanks for your comment!

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