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How to Write and Test PPC Copy That Converts

Unique Value PageWriting copy isn’t easy. Your job as a copy writer is to read customers’ minds and figure out which words will convince them to click through and buy what you’re selling. Like we said, it’s not easy.

The good news is that writing PPC copy is easier than most other types of copywriting. Not because PPC copy itself is necessarily easy to write, but because ad campaigns provide a built in way to test your copy so you can immediately find out how well it’s performing. Instead of guessing whether or not it’s converting, you’ll know within a few days.

A few things to keep in mind:

    1. You need to monitor the click-through rate (CTR), the conversion rate, and the cost per acquisition (CPA) to find out which copy performs the best. A low CTR is an indication that the copy isn’t a good fit for a certain keyword, but sometimes keywords with low CRTs still end up converting well. On the flip side, some keywords have a really high CTR but a low conversion rate which means the CPA ends up being really high. Thus, you need to watch all of these stats to find out which copy performs the best.
    2. You also want to make sure you base your tests on at least 20 to 40 clicks. It’s ok to evaluate more clicks, if you’d like, but definitely don’t do less. At least 20 to 40 clicks is a good rule of thumb to follow to ensure you make decisions based on statistically relevant results.

So, how do you write PPC copy that converts? Here’s how…

1. Incorporate the keyword into the ad copy as much as possible

The first thing you want to do is make sure to incorporate the keyword into the ad copy as much as possible.

As you’ll notice in the sample ad listed below, the search term (which in this case is “web design”) gets highlighted every time it’s used in the copy. This helps it to stand out to Google users who are searching for the phrase you’re advertising for.
This is especially important in the headline for the ad. The first thing someone searching your term will read is the headline. If the term they’re searching for is highlighted, there’s a good chance they’ll keep reading to find out what the rest of your ad is about. It’s always a good idea to tie the the headline as closely as possible to the keyword being searched for.

To do this you’ll want to make sure you have ad groups that have no more than 20 keywords per group. This makes sure that you’re able to use the keyword being searching in the headline and ad copy.

Note: The advice above is written particularly with Google AdWords in mind, but the strategy works for any other PPC campaigns. Even though not every advertising network highlights the keyword in the ad text, you’ll still get better results if you use the keyword in your ad copy.

2. Make sure you stand out

A basic tenet of marketing is to stand out from the crowd so it’s good to be different. You need to look around at what your competitors are saying and do what you can to make sure your ad copy stands out.

iSpionage provides a great way to do this. You’ll get access to a “library” of ad copy that your competitors use, including the copy they’ve been using the longest and likely are getting the best results from.

Having access to this “library” of ad copy that your competitors are using will give you many more ideas than if you just take a glimpse of what’s currently running in Google by typing a keyword into the search bar. That’s another way to do it, but iSpionage makes researching your competition much easier. Plus, if you just research based on ad copy you find with a Google search, you won’t know which ads have been running the longest and therefore are performing the best.

Once you have your competitors’ ad copy in front of you, pay attention to the ads that have been running a long time and see how you can write an ad that’s even better. Maybe you can mimic something that seems to work in their ad, but write it in a way that makes you different and helps your ad stand out.

One way to do this is with symbols like “!,” “*,” and “$.” These types of symbols don’t get used very often and are a great way to make your ads stand out. The ad below uses a dollar sign and a number at the beginning of the headline as a way to provide a unique headline compared to the rest of the ads.

Whatever you eventually decide to write, doing something different than everyone else and then testing your copy to see how it converts is a great way to write better performing PPC copy.

3. Use copy that conveys a benefit

Something else you can try is ad copy that conveys a benefit. Instead of just listing the features of your product, describe the benefit.

The ad below by Bibles for America starts by saying “Grow in your faith” which is a benefit they believe people will receive from ordering their free books. They could instead list the number of books that can be ordered or talk about the authors of the books, but that won’t convey a benefit. In many cases, listing a benefit in the ad copy will increase the ads CTR and conversion rate.

4. Take advantage of the display URL when possible

Google ads allow you to use either your website’s full URL or a unique ad copy URL as a way to show people which website they’ll be visiting. The URL you choose shows up as a green display URL in your ad.

In some cases, it’s better to display your homepage URL instead of a longer longer landing page URL. For example, if your landing page URL is, you’d be better off just showing to people who view your ad. But if you’re taking people to your homepage and want people them to see a more specific URL based on the keyword they’re searching for, you could use something like as the URL that people see in the ad.

In the example below, FirePepperMarketing uses for their display URL as a way to make their URL stand out in the ad (even though the ad directs people to their homepage).

Note: To learn more about Google’s policies about display URLs, check out this article from the Google support website.

5. Always remember to test your ad copy

Last but not least, you need to always remember to test your ad copy. All of the advice above will go to waste if you don’t A/B test your ads.

In some cases, it’s better to use the keyword in the ad copy, but in others, it’s better to list a benefit. In still other cases, you need to use symbols to stand out, but other times, a headline without a symbol will convert at a higher rate. You’ll never know unless you A/B test your ad copy.

To do this, you should always be testing two different versions for each ad group. Start with two ad copy variations that you think will perform well, and then let them run to see which one does better.

Once they each receive 20-40 or more clicks each, continue running the ad that has the lowest CPA or the most conversions, depending on which metric is more important to you, and then create a new ad to compete with the winner.

When you create new ads, you can test an entirely different wording to see if a completely new ad will do better, or you can tweak the winning version to see if a small change will make a difference. Either way, AdWords makes it easy to test your ad copy until you find an ad that converts best for your business, and it’s very possible to double conversion rates and triple click-through rates by A/B testing your ad copy to find a winning version.

You can continue running tests until you find an ad version that converts at a level you’re satisfied with. There’s always room to improve, so keep testing until you think you’ve found a winner you’d like to go with for the long term.

Wrap Up

We hope you learned something useful about how to write PPC copy that converts by reading this post. If you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments below.


Guest-Author-Joseph-PutnamJoseph Wesley Putnam is the proud owner of 5 North Marketing. He helps startups with copywriting, content marketing, and conversion rate optimization. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+, schedule a call on Clarity, and read more of his posts on the 5 North Marketing Blog.