Four Strategies For Text Ad Success

Text ad testing is a critical part of any PPC campaign. But, it can be tough to come up with ideas for different text ads to test against each other. Most PPC practitioners know that they need to split test, but many times they add in new ads that aren’t that different from the rest of the ads in the group. This kind of defeats the purpose of having a split test in the first place, if both experimental groups are essentially getting the same ad. Instead of making new ads just for busywork, I prefer to run two ads with two distinctly different offers to see which offer resonates more with the target audience.

In my years of managing PPC accounts, I’ve come across what I think are the four most effective value propositions for pay-per-click text ads. Your results may vary depending upon your product, target market, or conversion type (i.e. lead vs. purchase), but I’ve found that at least one of these ad strategies works for every account. Here we go:

1. Price

Probably the most common strategy out there. It’s pretty straightforward – show an attractive price or percentage off offer to your customers, and you’ll entice them to click on your ad to find a deal. You can even do sub-tests with this offer, comparing results of “% off” vs. “$ off”, free shipping vs. no free shipping, etc. But before you jump in to this test, you should do some competitive analysis to see what prices your competitors are offering. If you say in your ad that you have 20% off, but your most aggressive competitor has a price point 30% lower than you, that deal-savvy text ad isn’t going to do you much good. Also, don’t ever advertise “lowest prices” unless you’re 100% sure that you actually do offer the lowest prices. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen someone put “lowest price on X” in their text ad only to see 3-4 other text ads advertising a better deal.


price ppc ad example

2. Quality

If you can’t beat your competitors on price, then beating them on quality is a good option. You can imply that your goods are better than theirs. Not every customer is won over by the lowest price. After all, saying something is “cheap” can be good or bad. In “quality” ads, talk up the durability of your product, use social proof like press or user reviews, and feature industry awards testifying to your greatness.


quality ppc ad example

3. Speed

Talking up your speed is especially important for certain industries. If you can deliver quicker than your competitors, use it to your advantage. Utilize words like “fast shipping,” “quick turnaround,” and “convenient online ordering.”


speed ppc ad example

4. Fear

If all else fails, go negative. It’s a strategy that works for politicians and ad men alike. Customers who are looking at PPC ads are probably in a decision phase. Place that seed of doubt in their minds that your competitors aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and you just might win yourself a sale. You may not be able to use your competitor’s brand names directly due to trademark restrictions, but you should be able to hint at their identity just enough so that your customers know who you’re talking about.


fear ppc ad example

Of course, you can mix and match all of these strategies. Try a “price” ad with a touch of “speed,” or a “quality” ad with a dash of fear. You’re only limited by your imagination and the character restrictions. Just be sure that you test two (or more) distinctly different ads against each other, and have a plan to record and measure your results. Happy testing!

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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