Everybody wants more clicks.
But not just any clicks. Clicks that convert. Clicks that convert profitably. And once you’ve got that, you’ll want clicks that convert profitably with a shorter sales cycle.
Every B2B pay per click marketer wants these things. But are they doing everything they can to get them?
If you’re not testing your AdWords ad copy – and testing it rigorously and regularly – you could be missing out on those magic clicks.
The thing is, many marketers are terrible about testing their AdWords ads. They make all the worst mistakes. Like…
- Letting Google pick the winning ad
- Never ending their tests
- Not keeping track of what they’ve tested and how it performed
- Testing only little things, and ignoring total strategy changes
- Not picking a winning ad based on statistically valid results
- Focusing entirely on clickthrough rate without any thought to how the click performs later in the sales process
- And the worst: Not testing at all
We don’t want you to make any of those mistakes, so here’s the nutshell guide to…
How to Successfully Test AdWords Copy
1. Have tracking in place.
Are you among the 42.3 percent AdWords advertisers who don’t have tracking in place?
Say it ain’t so. Because there’s more to each ad than its click-through rate. It’s what happens after the click that actually makes the click valuable. Tracking is especially critical for B2B marketers because you’ve got it a bit harder than your B2C colleagues.
While you can use conversion tracking to see which clicks resulted in a lead, that’s only one step out of a very long sales process. You need to follow the performance of those clicks all the way through to at least a demo, and preferably a client’s first contract.
This why you almost certainly use CRM software or some 3rd party tool to track and evaluate leads. Your AdWords account, and the ads in it, needs to be hooked into that tracking system. This is because we are not spending $20+ per click just to get more clicks. In fact, the single best way to save money on AdWords… is actually to STOP spending money on clicks that get no results.
When you assess how ads have performed, measure them like this:
- Click conversion rate
- Conversion per impression
- Cost per converted click
- Revenue per impression
Those last two metrics are where the money is. Literally.
2. Don’t let Google pick your winning ads
This is derivative of the earlier point, but because Google’s tracking system is probably not sophisticated enough to know which clicks are genuinely generating business for you, it’s not smart enough to pick your winning ads.
In your AdWords account, make sure all your ad groups (and all your campaigns) are set to “Rotate Ads Indefinitely”. Also, heed Google’s warning: “If you’re using Smart Bidding, which prioritizes conversions, AdWords will automatically use the ‘Optimize’ ad rotation setting.”
Note that in some cases, you could do just fine with optimized ad rotation. For instance, if you’ve set up a landing page that is really tailored to weed out unqualified clicks, you might trust the value of any conversions you get from that page. With a landing page like that (think of it almost as a screening device), you could trust the AdWords system to pick the best ad.
Letting Google manage your ads makes even more sense if you tend to slack off on managing your AdWords account (which many people do). Turning ad rotation off is for companies that basically want manual control over their accounts. That is the kind of management I’ve seen work best – by far – but it isn’t every company’s choice.
3. Never proclaim a winner in your split-tests without statistically valid results.
This one’s easy. Keep Perry Marshall’s split-tester web page up as your review your ad groups. Just enter the conversions you truly value – like demos, or perhaps a request to be contacted by a salesperson, or even a return visit to your website – as the CTR.
That’s going to get you a really low CTR, but it will have you optimizing your ads for what actually matters… which is not how many clicks you can get.
4. Be aware of any other tests going on downstream in your sales funnel.
Testing landing pages? Your website? All that can – and should – affect your conversion rates. So they’ll affect the performance of your ads.
This means that what looks like a winning ad might not be a winning ad, because of changes someone made in the later phases of your company’s sales cycle.
Usually, you can’t get your whole company to stop testing while you test your pay per click ads. But at least get them to tell you what and when they’re testing. At the very least, you need to be aware of things that could affect your ads’ performance.
“How many ads can I test at once?”
This question always comes up as soon as someone gets the testing bug. And it’s a great question.
You can have up to 50 different text ads running at once in one ad group, and up to 20,000 ad groups per campaign ().
That said, we encourage you to not go crazy with creating the largest possible AdWords set up you can imagine. “On average—all of the conversions in an AdWords account come from just 9 percent of the account’s keywords”, so it makes sense to focus your ad copywriting work on the 9 percent (or so) of keywords that are actually generating business.
50+ Ideas for PPC Ad Copy Tests
You get two lines worth of headlines, with up to 30 characters in each of them. They may look at little different depending on the device they’re viewed from.
As you surely know, headlines are critical ad copy. In the immortal words of David Ogilvy, “When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”
To get you started, here are 30 possible copy tests for your headlines. Spend them well.
1. Test adding some of your top-performing email subject lines to your headlines.
2. Test using some of the title tags from your best-performing (and relevant) website pages or landing pages. (And vice versa. AdWords can be an SEO bonanza if you use it to test the title tags and meta descriptions of your website pages.)
3. Test headlines that have worked well on landing pages.
4. Test inserting a dynamic keyword, particularly if you make it a segment of your headline by putting it in between pipe symbols.
5. Test using phrases from your competitors’ ads.
6. Test using initial caps versus sentence case.
7. Test using your brand name in your headline, versus not using it (both for branded and unbranded search terms).
8. Test flipping your first and second headlines. So your second headline goes first, and your first headline becomes second.
9. Test including your website URL in your headline.
10. Test breaking your headline up into phrases, with pipe symbols separating the phrases.
11. Test the order of those phrases.
12. Test using a question in your headline.
13. Test using “You” in your headline.
14. Test using a quote from one or your clients or from an online review in your headline.
15. Test including any award or accolade your company has received.
16. Test using a really short headline.
17. Test including dollar signs, percentages, and number symbols (or any other symbols).
18. Test a story in your headline.
Yup: Fit a whole story into 30 characters. It can be done. You can tell a story in as little as six words. So distill a customer’s story or your company’s story into six words – and put them into that headline.
19. Test the word “We” in your headline.
We all know the power of “You”. But try “We.” It puts your company into the customer’s story, implying there’s already a connection between you.
20. Test the word “Because” in a headline.
“Because” is a lesser-known power word in advertising copy, but it can be nearly as powerful as “Free” or “Now”, or any of the more over-used copy powerhouses.
21. Test a snarky headline.
22. Test a judgmental headline.
23. Test a “Why” headline.
For instance: “Why you never get a promotion.” Or “Why haven’t you gotten a promotion?”
24. Test using industry jargon versus no jargon.
25. Test using social proof versus no social proof.
26. Test using phrases from ads you see on Facebook – both your competitor’s ads or ads for complementary services.
27. Test matching the headline of your ad with the headline of your landing page. Verbatim.
28. Test using your company slogan in your headline.
29. Test putting different phrases from the description area of your ad copy into the headline, and vice versa.
30. Test a negative headline. For example: “Don’t Hire Us.”
Most of the tricks you can use to create split-tests in headlines can be used for description copy, but because this area allows for more characters () – up to 80 characters – it means you have more space to play around.
Here are a few more ideas for how to fill this larger copy space with relentlessly clickable words.
31. Test different call to actions, including different formatting of the winning call to action.
32. Test using your company’s brand name in branded and unbranded ads/ad groups.
33. Test using State/City/Town.
34. Test including awards you’ve won, “Voted Boston’s Best Ad Agency”.
35. Test copy that’s worked well on landing pages.
36. Test including/not including something your prospects hate, or something your prospects love.
37. Test including phrases or sentences from online reviews, product reviews, or customer/client testimonials you’ve gotten.
38. Write out the top five benefits of your product or service, but do it in six words or less for each benefit.
Then rewrite how to say each of those benefits at least three times (still limiting yourself to six words or less). You will now have at least 15 snippets of ad copy. This is a great opportunity for multivariate ad testing, but if you don’t have that capability, just start slowly rotating through these copy variations in your ads.
Keep track of which benefit, and which benefit phrasing you’ve included, and do an Excel analysis as best you can to ascertain which benefit and which benefit phrasing gets the best lift. Also, look to see if a pair or a trio of benefit phrases seems to work best together.
39. Talk to your sales department.
Ask them to write a couple of ads for you, or to at least give you three different phrases or terms to test in your ad copy. If they’re too busy to do this, bribe them: Sales peoples’ income often comes from knowing exactly the right phrase to use and when. They know how to communicate with prospects.
40. Test words and phrases and calls to action used in your competitor’s ads.
41. Test copy for narrowly-defined user groups. How do different user groups view your product/services?
Does one user group (aka persona) think you do X, and another thinks you do something else? What terms and phrases do those user groups tend to use? Test that language/usage in your ads. You may find that certain keywords work with one user group, and other keywords are what people in your second user group prefer.
42. What does your company offer?
Write out 10 answers to this – no more than eight-word answers. Test those descriptions in your ad copy.
43. Test using the same call to action at the end of your description copy as is on the call to action button of your landing page.
44. Test including how long you’ve been in business.
45. Test using humor versus not using humor. (Ask your sales team what your prospects might find funny.)
46. Test including or not including your pricing.
47. Test using edgy punctuation. Like. This.
Test Your Ad’s URL
48. Test what happens if you capitalize individual words in the URL.
49. Test using a directory name versus no directory name.
50. Test different directory names.
51. Test using one or two directory names.52. Test putting a slash after the last character in the URL.
53. Test putting what looks like tracking code at the end of the URL.
54.Test putting a reference to a discount or a sale offer in the URL, especially if you haven’t mentioned that discount anywhere else in the ad.
55. Test putting dashes versus spaces between words in the URL.
Once you get into the right mindset, you’ll find potentially a 100 or 500 possible ad copy split-tests you could run in your AdWords ads.
The trick is to prioritize which tests are most likely to make a difference first, then also to keep track of what you test and the results of those tests.
AdWords does have a feature that records every change you’ve made in your account, but it can be a little tedious to work with. That’s why most conversion rate pros and AdWords jockeys keep notebooks of the tests they’ve done.
A test notebook like this can be a little black book – a Moleskine that fits into your pocket – that just keeps simple notes on what was tested, when it was tested, and the result. You could keep it not just for ad copy tests, but for landing pages, ad targeting, bidding information – every possible lever of control you’ve got in your AdWords account.
Having a record like that can be invaluable to your testing efforts. It’s a way to check your memory, but also to inspire future tests. And there are plenty of them to run.