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30th May 2013
By Matt

This post describes an interesting PPC ad testing idea. But don’t worry, it probably won’t work for you.

Even when you work for a PPC marketing agency, often easy to get stuck in the mindset of “best practice” when writing PPC ads. You insert your keywords, craft a killer call to action, spend your character limits, punctuate your first description line and maybe even write a tailored display URL once again using the keywords. “This is great”, you think, “PPC ad perfection; the clients will be happy.”

But this is exactly what everyone else does. It’s a risk averse approach that leads to your ads reading exactly the same as all of your competitors.

To demonstrate what I mean, I searched Google for “car insurance”:

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Here we can see seven ads, and every single one:

  • Uses the keyword “car insurance” in the headline
  • Has a customised display URL using “car insurance”
  • Has a percentage in the text, such as “99% could save”

Moneysupermarket.com and Go Compare have tried something different and listed Trust Pilot stars on their ads, while the former’s use of sitelinks – the blue links beneath their ad – helps them stand out. But looking only at the ad text itself, there’s just nothing to pick between all seven of these companies.

Applying Purple Cow thinking

As Seth Godin pens in his famous book Purple Cow:

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Now ask yourself this question: How often do you just throw the rulebook out of the window?

More importantly, have you ever taken then rulebook and just neatly placed it on a table?

I wanted to share a really clever and simple bit of PPC ad text testing that one of the teams here at atom42 are doing at the moment. Challenged with generating original PPC ads to stand out in a crowded PPC space, the team came up with a few really interesting and different ideas to test.

The strongest performing idea was one that flies in the face of the tried and tested methods: using actual quotes from past customers’ reviews, with quotation marks, in ad text. For example (not the actual ad used):

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In several instances the quotes weren’t even whole statements, just teasers designed to attract that all-important click and get people on your site.

While the campaign’s lifetime click through rate was relatively respectable, and gathered over the course of two years, these testimonial-led versions delivered an 85% increase in click through rate!

Don’t worry, this probably won’t work for you

That’s because no two ad tests are the same. The atom team referenced above work with a client in the services industry where customer reviews are king. That rule doesn’t necessarily apply to you, your business or, most crucially, the people who are looking for your ads who will then convert.

The takeaway here is to never let the fear of failure stop you from trying something extraordinary.

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