There are many metrics that PPC advertisers should focus on to ensure a strong ROI from their campaigns. Click-through rate, or CTR, is among the most important. The CTR of an ad is the percentage of users who click on an ad when it has been served to them based on the results of their search query. Unless your ads are compelling and well-written, your CTR will suffer – and that affects your Quality Score, ad rankings, cost per click, and cost per conversion.
So how do you write strong PPC ads that people want to click? Let’s find out.
PPC Ad Copy Essentials
Strong PPC ads all have three things in common:
- A call to action
Let’s examine each of these elements in more depth.
Whether you’re selling a specific product or advertising your business as a whole, your PPC ads should highlight the features of whatever you’re selling. This might be the unique selling proposition of your service, or a specific feature of a new product.
When identifying the benefits of your product or service, remember the timeless advice of salespeople trying to close a deal with a prospect: “What’s in it for them?” What will your customers gain by choosing your product or service? (Learn more about the difference between features and benefits.)
Call to Action
The call to action of your PPC ad – the part where you ask, or command, the user to do something, like make a purchase or sign up for an offer – will vary depending on what you want your prospects to do. Include persuasive language in your call to action (or CTA). For example, using the word “get” instead of “download” may result in higher CTRs, as “get” connotes an emotional takeaway – users don’t want to “download” something, they want to “get” something.
Structuring Your PPC Ads
There are almost as many ways to write a PPC ad as there are products to sell, but many experts agree on how to structure paid search advertisements to be as compelling as possible.
Perry Marshall, author of “The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords” and the world’s most frequently quoted AdWords expert, recommends that ad copy should emphasize the benefits first. This is because, according to Perry, consumers don’t want to buy products or services – they want to solve problems. By highlighting the benefits of your product first, you can appeal to users’ emotions and offer them a way to solve their problem.
Whether you choose to highlight the features or benefits of your product first, all of your PPC ads should have all three of these essential elements. When creating your ads, using a Feature-Benefit Matrix can help you identify opportunities to highlight your products or service in a way that appeals to prospective customers, and craft a compelling call to action that will make them want to click your ad.
This is an example of a Feature-Benefit Matrix:
Many advertisers overlook the importance of this stage in their eagerness to launch a campaign, but the more time you take to create strong PPC ads, the greater your CTR will be.
Include Active Verbs in Your Ad Copy
Small changes can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your PPC ads. One way to make your ads more compelling is to use active verbs.
Active verbs not only sound more dynamic, they can also serve as calls to action in disguise. When writing your ads, imagine that your prospects are saying “I want to…” when performing a search, then complete this thought with your ad copy.
Look at the two ads below. Although some changes were made to the copy in the second ad (known as the “variant” in A/B testing), the biggest difference between the two was the inclusion of an active verb (“Increase”) in the headline.
The second ad increased clicks by 150%, meaning that the inclusion of an active verb in the headline more than doubled the second ad’s performance.
Including active verbs in your ads is a great way to make them more interesting, compelling and entice the user to click on them. If using an active verb in your ads’ headlines is not possible (or forces you to sacrifice a high commercial intent keyword), you should definitely use one in your call to action.
Many advertisers assume that writing compelling PPC ads is easy. However, Google imposes pretty challenging restrictions on the number of characters you can use in your copy, necessitating a little creativity when writing PPC ad copy.
For reference, here are the AdWords character limits:
With so few characters to work with in each area of your PPC ads, it’s crucial that you maximize the space available and avoid repeating yourself. Many inexperienced advertisers make the mistake of stating the same information twice within a single advertisement, wasting precious space and potentially costing them clicks.
Experiment with Unconventional Calls to Action
Prompting your potential customers to do something is essential – but so is differentiating your ads from the competition. One way to do this is by including unconventional calls to action.
Too often, advertisers “ask for the sale” by using boring, unimaginative calls to action such as “buy now.” However, calls to action like this are all too familiar to consumers and rarely have the desired effect. Instead of using dry, bland sales talk, experiment with unusual calls to action that will capture your prospects’ attention and get them to click.
So, how can you incorporate unconventional calls to action into your PPC ads?
- Highlight testimonials (“Read the rave reviews we got!”)
- Be highly specific about cost savings (“Lower your costs by…”)
- Make prospects use their imagination (“Imagine your wedding in…”)
- Show off satisfied customers (“Jim Rice trusted us – see who else did”)
- Include a bonus offer (“Plus Free Friendly Travel Advice!”)
- Appeal to their impatience (“Get an Answer Right Now”)
- Take advantage of their emotions ("Get the Money You Deserve")
Just because you don’t have much space in your PPC ads doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with your copy. Use your imagination and try taking a few risks with your ads – it could really pay off.
A/B Test Your PPC Ads
Inexperienced PPC advertisers often spend a lot of time crafting their ad copy, but fail to actually test it. Making decisions based on assumptions is always a bad idea, and when it comes to PPC, it can mean the difference between success and (potentially costly) failure.
A/B testing ad copy is a best practice and one that you should adhere to for each and every campaign you run.
The two virtual memory ads above are a prime example of why A/B testing PPC ad copy is so important. Subtle changes to the copy and the inclusion of an active verb in the headline had a huge impact on the CTR of the variation. To the untrained eye, the ads themselves aren’t that different, highlighting why relying on hard data is always better than making assumptions.
A/B testing PPC ads is simple:
- Write two ads
- Run them simultaneously
- See which ad has the higher CTR
- Remove the ad with the lower CTR, replace it with another
- Repeat steps 2-4!
By following this process, you’ll continually improve the CTR of your ads.
Ad Text Optimization: Going Beyond Small Gains
There’s a lot more you can do to improve your ads and get above-average click-through rates. Take advantage of all the bells and whistles at your disposal:
- Use ad extensions
- Try dynamic keyword insertion
- Write emotional ads
- Look for AdWords jackpots
- Switch it up to a more exciting offer
Want more tips? Click here to download our full, free guide to ad text optimization: "Tricks to Get the Click: 10 Tips for Writing Better PPC Text Ads."