Better PPC Ad Text Tip 1: Experience matters
PPC ads are often only 130 characters including spaces right? Anybody could write something that short right? Research suggests otherwise. Because your ad needs to satisfy a number of human needs in addition to a number of search engine requirements, writing an effective PPC ad is surprisingly difficult.
Action words, keywords, incentives, cosmetic URLs and more all contribute to capturing clicks. So hire someone that knows how to write for humans and search engines. In a perfect world, this person would also be familiar with your audience and product or service.
Better PPC Ad Text Tip 2: Use your keywords
Keywords aren't just important for triggering your advertisements. They get your ads clicked too. Part of the reason is psychological. If you're looking for a bicycle, and I show you a bicycle, odds are you'll notice it. So be sure to include your keyword in the title of your ads. Moreover, if it makes sense to do so, include your keyword in the body and cosmetic URL of your ads as well. Another reason this helps your ad get clicked is that the major search engines also bold the keywords appear in the ad copy.
Better PPC Ad Text Tip 3: Phone calls are free
Marketing research suggests that people that are ready to make a phone call are often also ready to make a purchase. These people tend to be much further along in the sales funnel than those that are just beginning their research with some initial anonymous searches. Wouldn't it be great if you could find some way to identify these people without spending a lot of money? You can do just that by including your phone number in your PPC ad text. You pay for clicks not impressions. For this reason, engines like Yahoo don't allow you to use phone numbers in your ads. But Google has no problem with it.
This tactic presents a challenge for marketers that want to track their PPC conversions. Since it may not receive any clicks or conversions, your marketing team might turn this ad off in favor of a "better" performer. Meanwhile, the inside sales people might begin to wonder why the phones just stopped ringing.
Better PPC Ad Text Tip 4: Verbs are your friends
The Web is a medium that demands instant gratification and rewards experiences that provide it. The faster you can give a Web user exactly what he or she wants, the happier he or she is likely to be. This fact has dramatic ramifications for the landing pages you use to turn clicks into dollars or leads. But this action-orientation also has a subtle influence on which PPC ads work and which ones don't.
Rather than simply informing readers with your ad text, try to provoke action. Words like "See", "Try", "Call" or "Download" can help to improve your ad performance. The best of these seems to be "Learn". This may be because it has a positive, action-oriented connotation without sounding pushy. Combine these action words with a call to action and you're really on to something good. But that's Tip number 5.
Better PPC Ad Text Tip 5: Read This Tip Right Now!
The exclamation point in the title of this tip is a bit much. That's one reason Google and other engines limit their use in PPC ads. But the title of this tip is a call to action or CTA in marketing speak. Good sales people are born knowing how to "ask for the sale" but good PPC ad writers may need to learn how to do it.
Somewhere in each of your PPC ads, you should ask the reader to do what you want him or her to do. See the demo. Get the white paper. Try it now. In addition to asking your reader for a click, it also adds emphasis to the incentive you're offering and gives the reader an idea of what to expect if he does click your ad. You didn't offer an incentive in your ad? It's time to read Tip 6.
Better PPC Ad Text Tip 6: Pssstt…do you wanna buy some air?
If you don't remember the Sesame Street character offering air in a jar to passers by as though it were an illicit substance, don't worry about it. The point is that the Sesame Street character knew how to promote an incentive. For best results from your PPC ad text, you need an incentive too.
In the B2B space it's often a demo, download, or white paper that's highly relevant to the user's keyword search or the web site he or she is reading. In B2C it can be coupons, free samples, or contests. What are you willing to offer in exchange for my click? Offering free samples may not get you the right kind of traffic but it will certainly improve your clickthrough.
Better PPC Ad Text Tip 7: Use-the-cosmetic-URL.com/always
A lot of PPC advertisers ignore nearly 1/3 of the ad space that the search engines make available. After putting lots of time and energy into writing clever ad copy, they often enter their home page URL in the cosmetic URL field regardless of whether or not this is where the ad actually delivers a visitor. Start thinking of the cosmetic URL as ad space instead of navigation technology.
You can use your cosmetic URL to repeat your keyword (which appears in bold), to repeat your incentive, and to provide additional information to the user on where you're proposing to take him or her if he or she gives you a click. Savvy Web users often read URLs to decide whether or not they're going to a general page (e.g example.com) or to a specific page (e.g example.com/good-ppc-ads.html). Specific pages usually win out. Remember that depending on the search engine your cosmetic URL may actually need to exist so it can't be complete fiction. But a redirect is a pretty easy way of helping to improve your ad performance.
Better PPC Ad Text Tip 8: Initial Caps Matter
Unless you like to yell, you probably don't use all caps when you're texting, emailing or typing a letter. Search engines don't let you write ads containing nothing but capital letters either. In addition to being perceived as the textual equivalent of yelling, it's also less attractive and more difficult to read at a glance. And with PPC ads, a glance is all you get. But initial capitalization is different.
Initial capitalization uses an upper case letter at the beginning of each word. We've tested multiple versions of the same ad where one uses initial capitalization and the other does not. The one with initial capitalization tends to outperform. Not always, but often enough that we use it as a guideline. I can't say for certain that this style is easier to read but I do know how to spot better ad performance.
Better PPC Ad Text Tip 9: Less is more
After you've written a few PPC ads, you can probably recite the maximum allowable characters for each field from memory. On Google, it's 25, 35, 35, 35. Professional writers, advertisers, and amateurs the world over work hard to pack every character with as much punch as possible to capture more clicks.
Often every ad on a search results page uses every character available to it. Ironically, this means that all those ads that are written to be unique end up looking the exact same. You need to read them to discern how they're different. And Web users aren't great readers. Instead, what if you used as few characters as possible to deliver your message? What if your title was one word and your body copy and cosmetic URL were succinct to a fault. Your ad just might stand out from all the others. It would certainly be a faster read.
Better PPC Ad Text Tip 10: Brand Power
The Web can unintentionally help fly-by-night operations to appear just as dependable as major brands. This even playing field is a boon for legitimate small businesses that want to carve out a niche market for themselves but it also helps organizations that may be less respectable. The cost of other mediums is a barrier to entry that reserves them for larger businesses with bigger budgets.
But on any given search, Bob's Cola ad can appear above the Coca-Cola ad. In this uncertain environment, your brand name is one of the best tools you have to reassure prospects that your ad comes from a reputable source and that you won't waste their time. This is true even if your brand name isn't well known. Promoting your brand name in your ad copy and in your cosmetic URL - even if it is Bob's Cola - gives prospects some confidence that they can expect a business-like experience to follow if they click your ad.