10 Tips for Ad Refinement -- Ways to Keep Your PPC Ads FreshChristine Churchill , KeyRelevance.com - Dec 8, 2009
When the economy is tough, small businesses with tight budgets need to find new ways to stretch their advertising dollars. One method is to refine ads to keep them fresh and unique.
Before you write any ads, survey the competition's ads that are currently running for your keywords. You don't want to copy their ads, but want to know what they are doing so you can do something different. Knowing what the competitors' ads look like helps you craft ads that stand out. The following are some proven techniques to help differentiate your ad from the pack.
1. Add seasonality to your ads
Many marketers are lazy. They run the same ads year round despite the changing of the seasons and holidays. Taking the time to update your ads to work in holidays or seasons can bring a big return. Ads that reflect the current holiday better connect with consumers and help catch their attention. Consumers know your offer is current -- and since the holiday is on their mind, your ad speaks to them directly.
2. Include mention of a special deal
Shoppers love getting a special rate or price for items they were going to buy anyway. If your ad mentions a limited time offer or a special online price, you increase the likelihood that a shopper will select your ad from the others. Do you offer free shipping -- or free Wi-Fi (if you're a hotel)? Then include it.
3. Break the mold in your ad copy
Ask a question that addresses a need. "Need more widgets? We have them in all colors." Questions help pull consumers into your ad and get their attention. Another copywriting technique that grabs readers' attention is to create ad copy that is a bit offbeat or so bizarre that the reader is compelled to click on the ad to learn more. Be aware that this technique can be easily overdone, so use it sparingly.
4. Customize the ad with geo-terms whenever possible
Including specific geographical terms into your ads, such as names of cities, towns, and neighborhoods. This lets consumers know that you're serving their local region.
5. Use Ad Sitelinks where possible
Google is currently running a beta test using sitelinks in an ad. Sitelinks are additional links to content deep within your site. Since this is an experimental program, not everyone can participate. You can see an example of an ad with site links in the graphic below.
Learn more about Google AdWords Sitelinks online. If you are eligible to participate, the extra links are a great way to differentiate your ad and attract consumers' attention.
6. Run multiple ads
It is always surprising to learn how many advertisers don't take advantage of the analytical tools built into the Google PPC interface. They create one ad and run it. A better way would be to create multiple ads and let the consumer tell you which is the most effective ad based on performance. Since search engines make it easy to test multiple ads, there's no reason to pre-filter ads. Let the data be your guide. You might be surprised which ads win.
7. Use different media beyond the search network
If all your competitors are doing keyword-based search ads and you don't have the budget to compete, consider alternatives. The Google AdWords content network on non-search engine websites is vastly improved and allows much greater advertiser control than when it was first launched. Test out the content network in a separate campaign to explore if it might be a great place for your product. Other alternatives might be branded videos or mobile ads. These areas are not as saturated as the search results ad space and may allow a nimble small business to get a good return.
8. Work certifications, awards, or memberships into the ad copy
If your company has a 5-star rating or has won an award, flaunt it in the ad. Membership in BBB or AAA can also grab consumers' eyes and make your ad stand out. On websites we call these "trust seals." They instill confidence in the consumer that you are a legitimate company.
9. Identify what makes your company unique and include that in the ad
Why should consumers choose to do business with your company? What makes your company better than your competitors? If you can succinctly identify your company's unique selling proposition (USP), you can differentiate your company from the herd. If your company has been in business for 50 years, use that. McDonald's converts many a family by telling them how many burgers they have served. You may be able to include only an abbreviated mention of your USP in the ad, but don't worry. You can expand on it in the landing page.
10. Test running your ad with a phone number, if appropriate
Some consumers would prefer to speak directly to a human to ask questions about products or services. Including a phone number reduces your CTR, but could increase your conversions. If you use a phone number, be sure to track "offline conversions" by connecting the phone number back to the ad and keyword. Not tracking the phone number will leave a hole in your analytics and cause you to make decisions on incomplete information.
Try a few of these approaches to freshen your ads. They might just help you freshen your profits, too.
Christine Churchill is the President of KeyRelevance.com, a full service Dallas search engine marketing company that specializes in helping businesses succeed online. Christine and her experienced team of online marketers provide a holistic approach to marketing: increasing a site's visibility online, improving the user experience on the site, and maximizing the site's conversion potential.