The Importance of Ad Copy- How to Test Your Online Advertising

8/14/2007

- Lesley Gross, Client Strategist

It should come as no surprise to marketers that ad copy is an integral part of an online campaign. We are given only a limited number of characters to share our message and get the right users to our clients' sites. We have heard time and time again to make our copy "snappy" or even "catchy", but is this really the best approach? An online ad, in the world of Search Engine Marketing, is a door sign on a busy street with all of your competitors. Knowing this, what would you want your sign to say?

Due to the enormous share of businesses participating in Search Engine Marketing, each individual site is faced with many hurdles in maximizing their campaigns. With ads stacked up on top of others, it's not quite as easy as a user giving your message their undivided attention, like they would if looking through your catalog, viewing your commercial, or hearing your radio advertisement. Hence, knowing what your competition is utilizing to communicate their message is a critical factor. For example, if you knew a competitor was advertising a lower price for a product you sell, would you still keep your price in the creative?

Another glaring issue facing marketers is how to properly track ad copy performance once implemented. Many marketers find they have no way to determine the success of new copy. A fundamental part of building a campaign includes using content for specific keywords or ad groups. Not all keywords should provide the same message to searchers.

Lastly, if your product or service requires pre-qualification, incorporating this into your ad copy is vital. Let the searcher know if, for example, there is an approval process in place in order to purchase. This method will almost always bring in more qualified traffic.

With these factors in mind, how can marketers plan for a successful ad copy test? Here is a step-by-step process that we have productively put in place for some of our clients striving to find the best online message.

Set your goals- Determine the goal of each campaign and subsequent ad groups. Establish whether you are looking to brand a new product or raise your click-through rate and increase conversions.
Do your research- Use your keywords to search and see what messages your competition is using. Create ad copy that can stack up against them.
Decide the copies to test- Use a baseline existing copy and add in new ads for the same campaigns that are based on your research.
Launch your campaign- Make sure that ads are set to rotate as evenly as possible, showing equally over time. This is a non-default option within the search engine interfaces.
Let it go- It is important to allow for enough time to pass in order to get the most accurate results. We usually recommend a minimum of one month of traffic.
Evaluate data- Don't just look at one parameter. Evaluate based on your goals. By combining Google Adwords to view each ad copy's click-through rate and Google Analytics (Content Parameter) to view each ad copy's conversions, it is possible to determine the success of your test.
Remove failing ad copy- After enough time has elapsed, you can remove the outliers from the campaign.

In the end, going through the steps in the process will help to keep your campaigns competitive in this ever-growing, dynamic medium. Using catchy words can get you only so far these days. When you find your campaign performance at a stall, remember if your competition is right next door, how would you make yourself stand out?

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