Win of the Week: To Be Unorthodox or Conformist, That Is the Question

September 11, 2017

Today, I'm featuring what may be the biggest win in BoostCTR's brief history. It's certainly the biggest win that's been featured in a Win of the Week column.

Since the difference between the two ads is so big, it should be easy to pick the winner, right? Well, maybe. Looks -- and gut-level responses -- can often be deceiving. Nevertheless, take a look at the two google ppc ads below and see if you can pick the winner.


PPC Ad #1Ad #1 - Textbook RentalPPC Ad #2Ad #2 - Textbook Rental


To help make your decision, suppose for a moment that you were a college student looking to rent some college textbooks. Which ad would you be more likely to click on? Which one reaches into the mind of the college student and gets her to click?

In this case, ad number one is the winner. It was written by "ctrmaven," and it increased CTR by an astounding 581%. Where the original ad was getting 1 click, the new ad is getting 6.8 clicks.

So why did the new ad win? And why did it win by such a large margin? Here are a few reasons why...

1. Most students are broke. They don't want to spend money on textbooks. The winning ad capitalizes on this by emphasizing "cheap," "low, low prices," and "low prices." All three of these words/phrases appear in the winning ad. The repetition makes it nearly impossible to miss this overarching message.

2. The unusual title of the winning ad stands out. When viewed next to other ads, the hyphenated title jumps off the page. Not only that, "Textbooks-Fast-Cheap-Easy" contains two more benefits than "Rent Bargain Textbooks."

3. Why use two words when you can use three? All kidding aside, it is best to say what you want to say in as few words as possible. "Low Prices" is a much better, shorter phrase than "Marked Down Textbooks."

4. Here's where it gets interesting... The winning ad packs in three benefits on the second line of body copy:

  1. Fast service
  2. low prices
  3. easy return

One character is saved by using "Service" instead of "Delivery." The word "and" is eliminated, which saves 5 characters (3 letters plus 2 spaces). The phrase "Easy Returns." (with a period at the end) is truncated to "easy return", thereby saving 2 more characters. And instead of using a comma-space construction (which uses 2 characters), a hyphen is used to separate phrases (which only uses 1 character). And so the winning ad is able to squeeze in "low prices" in between "Fast service" and "easy return".

It's not quite as pretty, but it gets more attention -- and WAY more clicks.

5. Surprisingly, neither ad uses an exclamation point! In fact, the winning ad uses no punctuation at all. No periods, no commas, no exclamation points. The losing ad does use a period at the end of the second line -- but its placement precludes any benefit from Google's extended title format. I point this out because 1) not all winning ads use the ad-writing rules of thumb and 2) the winning ad might get an additional bump from an exclamation point at the end of the first line of body copy.

The bottom line: The new ad wins because itreiterates the core benefit three times (low prices) and uses unconventional formatting to get attention and pack more benefits into the same amount of space.

What's your takeaway from this admittedly unorthodox winner?

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, and has gone as far as offering Netflix public business advice.

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