PPC Chat Streamcap – Extreme PPC Ad Copy

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with a captivating question set titled “Extreme PPC Ad Copy.” In other words, unique strategies for writing & presenting ad copy. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Talk about unique messaging and/or formats you have used in search network text ads to make your ads stand out?

  • I like leading off with questions from time to time, it seems to help people qualify themselves before clicking. – WordWatchPPC (@WordWatchPPC)
  • Do what everyone else doesn’t. If they have keyword in the headline, put it in the body. Make your CTA’s & value props unique. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Not really unique, but numbers and symbols really help. And all caps if you can use them, ie company name, ESPN, etc. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Using the display URL, specifically "subdomains". Symbols help too. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • Big fan of question leading titles/first lines. Particularly if creating adverts for a top 3 position. – Mackenzie (@MC1985FTW)
    • Opportunity to create a great headline with the extended headline feature. – Matt Umbro
      • Absolutely, the extended headline feature has a lot of power that is often unused in the niche marketplaces. – Mackenzie
  • David Szetela (@Szetela) wrote about it a couple years ago, but he used bullets at the beginning of each line…I tried & saw couple conversions. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
    • Interesting. I wonder if Adwords still allows for bullets? They seem to be cracking down on things like that. – Luke Alley
  • I try to relate in the headline and then sell (value props & CTA) in the body, followed by reinforcing in the display URL. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
  • Use symbols, prices, a CTA & a USP, make it stand out from the competition. use sitelinks to extend your USPs. – Andrew Baker (@AndrewBaker72)
  • Not sure unique, but #s and %s have done wonders. Others: Prove Results, Highlight Pain Points (w/& w/out ?s) – Crystal Anderson (@CrystalA)
  • One of my pet peeves are questions in the ads, the search is a question so why answer a question w/ a question? – Chris Kostecki
  • @SumoCreative have done some very nice stuff targeting ego searches with very specific ad texts (I don’t work with them). – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • It’s almost like an essay, the conclusion (display URL) should reiterate the Intro (headline). – WordWatchPPC
  • Reverse headlines. "Waste Your Money" or "Don’t Call Us First" (It’s a rare client willing to accept really creative ads). – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • (Official Site) for brand usually = winner. – Bonnie Schwartz (@bonnieschwartz)
  • I use keywords that are similar, but not exactly the same in ad copy. Everyone else is using exact, makes mine stand out. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Taking seasonal sayings and altering them to fit the offer. Also #s, %s and questions draw the user in. – Claire Remmetter (@cremmetter)
  • Competitive specials usually do the trick. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
    • What if your rates are the same as your competitors? How can you differentiate then? – Mackenzie
      • If rates are the same as competitor then you need a different selling point – why should they buy from you? – Claire Remmetter
        • Agreed, it’s an opportunity to stand out yet in the insurance industry everyone loves a % saving in their ads. – Mackenzie
      • Make it seem as if your special is better by offering perks, service & website usability. – Nicole Mintiens
        • Offer extensions are great for this. – Matt Umbro
  • Jumpfly actually does a unique headline by saying "Don’t Sign Up For AdWords" & D1 says "Before you check us out." – Matt Umbro
    • Interesting. I’ve tried running headline into D1 as a sentence. Moderate success. – Michelle Morgan
      • If you can get free shipping or discount messaging as part of longer headline it works great. – Matt Umbro
  • Don’t be afraid to be funny/silly, as long as it makes sense. Example ad that I love – http://t.co/ILvYoCWx . – Aaron Levy
  • I like the question approach or common pop culture/meme phrases in the copy if it pertains to the message, humor. – Gladue (@gladue)
  • Just started testing "offers" in the display URL. eg- www.example.com/FreeShipping. Saves me room in the ad text for other CTAs. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • David Szetela posted an ad this weekend that was very unique – http://t.co/dK93850a . – Matt Umbro
  • Humor or alliteration can do wonders. Shows some creativity in the ads, and really makes them stand out. – Luke Alley
    • IDK, i’m all for a joke, but not in ads unless inline w prod/svc being sold, i’d rather be direct and qualifying, better motivation. – Chris Kostecki
      • Humor doesn’t make sense UNLESS it’s in line with ad, but that’s easier to do than you might think. – Aaron Levy
  • Have to match the level of "creativity" to the product’s customer base. A 50 yr-old bs owner is not a 22 yr-old college grad. – Theresa Zook
    • I think the google builds are what turned me off, saw them as a waste of space. My tests have not shown good CVRs. – Chris Kostecki
  • When I get too creative my ad usually loses – Explaining what your service is + KW in Bold often more imp. – Bonnie Schwartz
  • Adding times, dates can play well if others not doing it. "Prices in January From Only". – James Hume (@zerospin)

Q2: Do you find your more "nonconventional" ads to improve CTR? How about conversion rates?

  • Usually the most boring/factual ads seem to beat my funny & creative ads in my tests. – Melissa Mackey
  • Improve CTR, but CVR/ROI is what matters (unless remarketing). – Chris Kostecki
  • My best converting ads are the ones that use the word "free". – WordWatchPPC
    • Be careful. Just saw 2 accts for lawyers that did worse when free was in the ad. Experience beat Free 11 to 1. – Brad Geddes (@bgtheory)
  • It’s a big tradeoff. If I can boost one while maintaining the other, yay!Look at imp-to-conv rate as true success metric. – Aaron Levy
  • Extened Headlines and Site Links have shown to offer increases in CTR and customer engagement increases. – Mackenzie
  • Have to be careful. Seems to me that "unconventional" works best in consumer retail. Don’t often use for B2B. – Theresa Zook
  • Have seen mixed results – depends on industry, conversion goal, etc. – Crystal Anderson
  • I find it depends on the product – more serious offers need more qualified clicks. – Claire Remmetter
  • I think lead gen is difficult to do fun/cute ads sometimes. Takes away from credibility. – Michelle Morgan
  • Creative + factual wld be best compromise. Just not enough chars available. – Theresa Zook
    • I disagree on using creativity for b2b. Depends on segment…works well if targeting marketers. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Best converting ads are down to the dest URL. – Andrew Baker
  • Would not want to sacrifice: relvance, VProps, or CTA for humor or fluff, not enough space, especially if LP doesnt continue theme. – Chris Kostecki

Q3: How do you ethically distinguish yourself from the competition in ad copy?

  • You need a USP (unique selling proposition). Otherwise it’s hard to stand out in 70 chars.- Melissa Mackey
  • Use ad extensions as much as possible as not everyone utilizes them…or correctly. – Mark Kennedy
  • If you’re the "official" site it’s easy. – Robert Brady
  • Price, value, quality, trust, service. Find their weak points. – Jeremy Brown
  • Use promotions that set you apart, state your price if it’s lower, etc. – PurePPCCom (@pureppccom)
  • No general tips for this – it is all extremely specific to the client. – Richard Fergie
  • Make sure you can back up any claim you make. – Robert Brady
  • Geniuine offers that I also mention in my landing page. – Manoj Pandey (@_MAN0J)
  • Solid benefit msging. Say only what is true. – Theresa Zook
  • How about text that specifically speaks to choosing you instead of your competitor (ie: "Compare to others & save big"). – Matt Umbro
    • Depends on the market. Better customer service can be a huge selling point, much more than $. – Theresa Zook
  • Ethics? All is fair in love and PPC! – John Lavin (@Johnnyjetfan)
  • Also, positioning is a huge factor, may not want to be the top ad in highly competitive space, the tirekicker argument. – Chris Kostecki
  • As said in Q1, do what the other guys don’t, and use the winning VP’s. No point in putting your price if you’re not cheapest. – Aaron Levy
  • Show proof – # of clients, feature big name clients, etc. Probably didn’t get 100K+ clients being unethical! – Crystal Anderson
    • Usually need approval on client names, but #’s are good. – Jeremy Brown
  • For an IT client we did top-reasons -we-stand-out ad and took them to a comparison LP. Conversion rate was okay, but not great. – Mark Kennedy
  • Seems like the "ethical" standard is simply what Google will allow. May need a better definition. – Luke Alley
  • I look at the SERPs to see what the competition is saying. If my price is not best then I focus on quality not price. – Bonnie Schwartz
  • Use a granular approach-highlight benefits vs. each competitor. Ex: better $ than 1, better feature than another. – Crystal Anderson
  • Research your site search, content before conversions & incorporate these messages into your ads eg reviews, delivery info. – Andrew Baker
  • IMO its better to focus on my biz than what the others are saying. Unless you know they are reading them, dont want to send away. – Chris Kostecki
  • If you’re not ethical in your ads, in the end conversion likely will not happen. People can see through things easy and fast. – Luke Alley
  • Make sure to use a a benefit in first line and an action in the second line. – Lawrence Aaron (@lawrenceaaron)
  • Focus on what you do well, not on what everyone else is doing! – Crystal Anderson
    • Absolutley, if you mention the competition a searcher may have to go verify and you lose their attention. – Chris Kostecki
  • I have found the simple can beat out the complex. Simple is beauty. – Sterling Green (@sterlinggreen)
  • Seller ratings extension gives you a huge leg up on the competition. – Matt Umbro
    • Most def – I think it’s about 20-30 third party reviews for the stars in the UK. – Andrew Baker
      • Yes and I believe you need all of those reviews to be at least 4 stars or higher. – Matt Umbro
    • I find seller ratings a big benefit but I dislike the system as it’s open to abuse. – Mackenzie
  • Know your USPs & make them clear in your copy. Why should people choose you over your competitors? – Matt Hopson (@matthopson)

Q4: Talk about the types of unique messaging you have used in sitelinks and/or to present your ad in a more distinguished light?

  • Had used special characters, but Google has been cracking down on them. – Jeremy Brown
  • I’ve used value props in sitelinks, especially for non branded campaigns (ie: "Price Guarantee" "Why Buy From Us") – Matt Umbro
  • Use sitelinks to drive to diff steps in funnel: learn more, apply now, features, etc. – Melissa Mackey
  • As we’ve found, the actual sitelinks aren’t clicked as much but headline CTR improves. – Matt Umbro
  • ‘Why Buy From Us?’ can be a great Sitelink on brand if the client has a page for that. – Jeremy Brown
  • Links to video, links to what people are saying about us, delivery / return info etc. – Andrew Baker
  • Use psychology. State what will be better for them if they buy from you. – Pamela Lund (@Pamela_Lund)
  • Great way to highlight a unique feature.or send business vs individual searchers directly to right landing page. – Theresa Zook
  • Use sitelinks for both value props & user actions. ie "Guaranteed/Instant Approval" "Apply Now" – Claire Remmetter
  • Use sitelinks for branding efforts as well as conversions. Might not get the business today, but now they might come looking later. – Michelle Morgan
  • Additional conversion types, diff product options, FAQ, tour. Every sitelink needs to have an easy path to conversion. – Aaron Levy
  • Also use to up-sell & cross sell! – Crystal Anderson
    • Definitely can be used to cross-sell and related products. – Mark Kennedy
  • Sitelinks are woefully underutilized. Good for us. – Melissa Mackey
    • Missing or bad Sitelinks are a strong sign of a mis-managed account. – Jeremy Brown
  • Very true, higher CTR with site link ads but hardly any clicks on the actual sitelinks all on the headline still. – Andrew Baker
  • You can also use sitelinks for different searches on the site, ie: "Shop By Style" "Shop By Size" etc. – Matt Umbro
  • I have been testing working in high volume keywords within campaigns when applicable. – Bonnie Schwartz
  • Embedded sitelinks that match your ad’s CTA. – Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
  • Working embedded siteslinks into ad text has worked well, and look good. – James Hume
  • Selling points in sitelinks usually work great. If you can, use the {copy} ValueTrack Parameter & link to the same URL as the ad. – Martin Rottgerding (@bloomarty)
  • Love using the sitelink Made in the USA. Support America!! – Lawrence Aaron
    • That can be a great USP in certain industries. – Jeremy Brown
  • Remember to refresh / test your sitelinks just like your ad creative. – Andrew Baker
  • For specific promotions or 24 hour deals, great to raise awareness of them on Brand terms. – Blair Kerrison (@blairkerrison)
  • Another tip – include a discount code for check out in your site link. – Andrew Baker
    • Tests I’ve run show people don’t remember codes and it reduced CTR. Sitelinks may be diff. – Aaron Levy
      • Really? Interesting, I mirror the code on the landing page so I guess that’s not an issue. – Andrew Baker
        • I tested code in copy & LP vs just on the LP. #2 won every time – guess searchers have no short term memory! – Aaron Levy
      • Would need to test for sure. I think the sitelink with the code would automatically assign coupon code to user. – Alma Smith (@Alma_Smith)
        • That was my test – saw that people converted better when code was autoapplied, and only sale was mentioned (not code). – Aaron Levy
  • With broader terms I have noticed more product specific sitelinks have strong conversion rates. – Bonnie Schwartz

Q5: What resources do you use to create more interactive ads (ie: rich media ads, video ads, mobile ads, etc) & are you at a disadvantage if you don’t have access to create these types of ads (aside from the display ad builder)?

  • I wish it was easier. End up using in-house dev team or client creates ads, and they’re often copies of offline creative which is not always good for online/display. – Melissa Mackey
  • I use @karenhawey and the display ad builder – a great combination. – Richard Fergie
    • I do like the display ad builder as Richard says, great in a pinch. – Melissa Mackey
  • Great question. Mostly have the client provide. Can be a disadvantage if the client doesn’t have resources. – Jeremy Brown
  • Internal client resources typically, or work w/design partner. – Crystal Anderson
  • We were doing promoted youtube videos but the price/conv was way too high. – WordWatchPPC
    • Yeah, I’ve heard promoted videos have awful ROI. – Melissa Mackey
  • Use our video, art, and programming departments. Makes for a long process, but the pay off is usually awesome. – Michelle Morgan
  • In house designer, client provided designs. – Claire Remmetter
    • We’re smart with data, not pretty colors and pictures. – Aaron Levy
  • Blush to say only Ad Builder. But don’t blush to say my ads do very, very well. Don’t see need for designer. – Theresa Zook
    • Ad Builder can work well also w/ remarketing ads that are branded. Not the best, but if no other option they are great. – Luke Alley
    • Nice! What type of industries/ads have you seen success with? – Crystal Anderson
      • Variety. Business services, consumer products, relationship-starters (B2B), one-off consumer purchases, etc. – Theresa Zook
        • Thx!! Haven’t used it much so good to know it has potential if we’re in a pinch! – Crystal Anderson
    • We’ve been in the same situation w/ low budget clients, and we’ve made ad builder work. – Luke Alley
      • Depends on what you try to do with it. I take a KISS approach. Yes. I think the simpler ads are sometimes more noticeable on the page. Prof designers create such "busy" ads! – Theresa Zook
  • Google Display Ad Builder is subpar IMO (kind of like the text ads they write) not creative nor custom. – Chris Kostecki
  • On kickoff calls I set expectation that down the line image/rich media ads will need to be created & client needs to find resource. Additionally, I believe Display Ad Builder somewhat cheapens the brand. – Matt Umbro
    • Yes & no. Sometimes these ads stand out better in sea of prof ads. – Melissa Mackey
    • I think it only does when ppl know it is Display Ad Builder. – Michelle Morgan
      • They can, and I’ve had a couple of clients do really well with Ad Builder, but my first choice would always be a designer. – Matt Umbro
  • Seems as though ppl are "ad blind" to prof display ads in some verticals. – Melissa Mackey
  • Use a list of designers and developers across the USA. Have a great Google+ circle of designers and developers. – Lawrence Anderson

Q6: What are some techniques you use to create attention grabbing display and Facebook ads?

  • Images play a big role! – Crystal Anderson
  • It’s all about the image. – Robert Brady
  • For FB, pictures that look dirty but aren’t. Srsly. HUGE CTR. – Melissa Mackey
  • Subtle overlays on images are great as well as bright borders around image when client approves. – Lawrence Aaron
  • Single image & some text–you have to work it, but focus is good. – Theresa Zook
  • Good color combination and Fonts can make Facebook ads more appealing. – Manoj Pandey
  • Refresh OFTEN, and use goofy/fun (but clear) pics. I swear if any of you try to write a message in your pic… – Aaron Levy
  • Try to clash a bit with where its being placed (display), for FB, short text. – Chris Kostecki


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About the Streamcaptographer

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe Jr; Search Engine Marketing Manager at WebRanking in Minneapolis, MN, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, Search Blogger … sometimes, Tweets Live from @PaulKragthorpe, and Google+’ing from PaulKragthorpe.

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