Actionable Tips in Testing Google Adwords Ad Copies

Let’s get a little backstory here. We knew very few businesses can afford to ignore the inconceivable power of Pay-per-click marketing. Inconceivable because it can either give you a solid ROI or have your conversions slip through the cracks.

It is plain as the nose on our faces. Pay-per-click is a no-holds-barred marketing tactic. If you get it right and lead better business returns for you, it is no luck. So, congratulations! But if you get it wrong, maybe you’re missing the lowest hanging fruit—testing.

Successful PPC campaigns don’t run on autopilot. It calls for creativity, expertise, and time to do countless testing. Take note, a single untested campaign could end you up throwing money without getting returns that you’ve hoped for. Actually, PPC has humbled a lot of marketer’s “marketing expertise.”

Google Adwords Logo
Image courtesy of Google

Today, as customers get smarter and become more confident about what they want, it is up to you to be there at the right place, at the right time—with the perfect message. There are numerous elements PPC experts should focus on to ensure strong ROI from their campaigns. One of the basic tenets but often undertaken is the ad copy.

If you have been using Adwords, I am certain that you’ve once wondered why your competitor’s ad copies were getting higher returns than yours. In order to ensure that you are getting a bang for your ads spend, Ad Copy Testing is a necessary evil to your optimization process.

Don’t burn your time testing things like “colon vs semicolon” or “50% off vs buy 1 get 1 for free.” Sure, these are very important variants, but it remains irrelevant until you structure a process of testing your copy.

Before you slip into perpetual danger, quit the drama and start testing. Read on and follow these quick tips.

1) Create Relevant and Active Ad Copies

Let’s say you already set-up your ads that are relevant to your campaign objectives with the right targets, bids, and settings. You ran your PPC ads for quite some time and did not get the results that you were expecting. Surprised? Don’t be.

With a fire hose of online ads stampeding at every user, take a wide-open look at your ad copy—its headline, description, and display URL. Never in your deep pockets would you want to get a blank stare in your ad. One way to resolve this is to create different versions of ads for you to test out and measure its performance.

Look at the 3 variants below. Actively communicating the benefits, features, and killer call-to-actions in different versions will help you test which message is best consumed by your target audiences.

Ad Copy Variations

Always stick to your business objective. Never hesitate to mention unique offers in your ads as your consumers say “Show me the product!” Be creative and relevant—all in terms of ad copy, landing page, and audience targeting.

2)Test What’s the Best Ad Rank for You

Holy Google! Packed with fantastic creatives and peppered with lowest product or service offers, your ad is shown on top. Time for the much awaited clicks and credit card appearances! Then suddenly, it just disappoints your inner gay.

Ad Rank

Top rank but gets low click-through-rate (CTR)? Now, we get to the why level.

Ad rank is what determines your ad position. Its main components are your bids, the quality of the ads, ad extensions and formats, keywords, and website. Given that your ad is shown on top doesn’t necessarily equate to higher CTR. Rather than going back to the first step of optimizing your campaign, start with the weightiest question—how’s your competitors?

Gotcha! You have the same offers and you both target the same intent. Users might be skipping your ad because of personal comparisons, both your ads and your competitor’s meet his/her intent anyway. Fine tune your audience knowledge and at the same time lower your ad spend by experimenting on ad rank. Try to bid down. Test the second or the third rank and see where you are getting the most clicks.

3) Use custom URL Parameters

When mapping out PPC campaigns and ad groups, you are probably targeting very similar keyword themes per group. Each specific keyword within the same ad group may carry different user intent than others. So based on user intent or your ad copy variants, you can choose to drive visitors to different landing pages or destination URLs.

Imagine you’re doing PPC for a brand of pizza and you have sets of keywords that represent specific flavors of pizza as part of the ad group. You can customize your headline, display, and destination URLs by having your brand plus the specific flavor like four cheese or pepperoni. In this case, you can choose to send visitors directly to the category or product landing page than leading them to the home page. This is where custom URL parameters are extremely helpful. This method is really useful if you have massive numbers of ad copies with different variations and it can help you determine specific ad copy that gets the highest returns.

To do this, first, you will have to create a database for you to list and group your ad copies along with their respective account, campaign, ad group, and destination URL. The variety of encoding schemes these days is dizzying so for this, you can use Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets. (See sample image below.)

Organizing Adwords
(Click for larger image)

After organizing the ad copies, in the destination URL column, add URL parameters at the end of your destination URLs, which should be unique per ad copy variation like what is shown below:

URL Parameters
(Click for larger image)

After so, you can now start uploading your ad copies into Google Adwords. I recommend using Adwords Editor for faster implementation. Also, you have to make sure that the URL parameter format is correct and working.

Google Adwords Editor

Next step is —

4) Track them using Google Analytics

Finally, we have come to the arena of data.

Don’t just toss around your data. Use Google Analytics to track what keyword works for an ad copy. Remember the URL parameters that you did earlier? Use it like a tag so be sure that you’ve put URL parameters to every ad copies that you wanted to test. Be sure not to name your custom parameter anything that will conflict the parameters you set around your site.

To start analyzing your data, go to Google Analytics, and then select the account, project, and view on what website you’re conducting the test. Next is go to the reporting tab. On the left sidebar, go to Acquisition > Adwords and then Destination URLs.

Google Analytics Sidebar

Once there, put “Keywords” as your secondary dimension.

Google Analytics Second Dimension

And viola! Like super magic, you can now see what keywords are actually generating the most value (clicks, sessions, conversions, etc.) per ad copy!

Google Analytics Results

Just go back to the database that you created to help you determine which Destination URLs belong to an ad copy. From here on, you can do your optimization for the ad copy or even the landing page. It could be making the keywords as exact match for you to have lower spendings or it could be changing the color or position of a certain button in your landing page.

Collected data can either slap you straight with the cold hard truth for some Shakespearean inspiration, or can validate your strategy. Pay-per-click is more than thinking far outside the box.

5) Once There Is a Champion, There Will Always Be a Challenger

Ad Copy Champion VS Challenger
Photo courtesy of Bernard Bujold on Flickr.com

Testing Google Adwords Ad Copies has to achieve two priorities: 1. Does it meet your objective? and 2. Insights from test isolation. Once you’re able to determine which ad copies, position, keyword, and what hooks work best for your campaign, it’s time for you to analyze, gather insights, and create your challengers. There’s no bests here, just better. Challenge best practices. Running a PPC campaign is a never-ending process of optimization until someone else’s brain bleeds or someone else’s pocket cries.

The end result, when done right, is promising. However, the nature of digital platforms and the evolving consumer journey are making it harder to get creative and pull more people in. The challenge is vicious and rather than being scared, the challenge should excite you.

Now, let us take our testing gloves off and dive into some great ideas through the comment box.

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