Win of the Week: Clarity, Specificity, and Urgency Produce 115% Increase in CTR

August 8, 2017

Which of the two ads below do you think performed better? Both used the same URL, but the titles and body copy are significantly different.


PPC Ad #1Horror Movies - Ad #1PPC Ad #2Horror Movies - Ad #2


Here's another way to think about it: If you were searching for "horror movies," which ad do you think you'd click? Make your decision then scroll down for the answer.

In this particular contest, the new winner is ad number two. The winning ad was written by "ctr_guru," and it increased CTR by 115%.

So why did the the new ad perform so much better and attract more than twice as many clicks as the original ad? Let's take a look...

1. The title copy of the original ad is fairly vague. "Horror Movies" lacks specificity. Am I going to be able to watch horror movies when I click this ad? Or read reviews about horror movies? Or learn how to make horror movies? I don't really know.

2. The new ad improves the title copy by making it more specific. The searcher now knows -- at first glance -- that if he clicks, he'll get a "List Of Top Horror Movies." Removing uncertainty from PPC ads is a critical step in improving CTR and conversions, and that's exactly what the winning ad does here.

3. Slang is usually not a good idea in a PPC ad unless it is abundantly clear what you're trying to communicate. As you can see, the first line of body copy in the losing ad says, "Top Rated, Top Faved Movies." The word "Faved" is slang for "Favorited," but it looks strange and makes the searcher pause for a second. The searcher then has to work to understand what the ad is trying to say. (Not to mention, "Top Rated, Top Faved" is painfully redundant.)

Hint: Very few searchers are going to work to figure out a poorly worded ad. They'll simply move on to the next one.

4. The winning ad describes clearly what the searcher will see when he clicks the ad. He'll "See Newest Horror Film Releases & Get Lists Of Top Horror Films." There is no ambiguity. Just as important, there is consistency between the title copy and body copy.

5. The losing ad suffers from a "split personality." The first part of the ad talks about horror movies. But the second part of the ad talks about a horror fans community. Which is it? This lack of consistency causes confusion ... and hesitation. People searching for "horror movies" may not have any interest in a community for horror fans. They may just want a list of the best horror movies, which the winning ad clearly promises.

6. The winning ad uses the word "Now" with an exclamation point at the end to create urgency. As I've noted before in this column, ads that use an exclamation point at the end of the first or second line of body copy tend to beat ads that don't use one. On a side note, the losing ad uses no punctuation at all, creating a run-on sentence between line 1 and 2 of the ad -- usually not something you want to do unless you've maxed out your characters.

The bottom line: The new ad wins because it is more specific, more urgent, and more clearly written. The searcher knows exactly what he's going to get when he clicks.

Clarity, Specificity and Urgency are three vital concepts for writing effective PPC ads, and they are all present in the winning ad above. So as you review each PPC ad you've written, ask yourself:

  • Is it clear enough?
  • Is it specific enough?
  • Is it urgent enough?

What's your takeaway from this particular contest? 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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