August 21, 2012

PPC Ad Optimisation

Published: 21 August 2012 

Optimisation is not a simple end game solution, it is a process which needs to be iterated over time. Testing is not only about how you achieve a result but also why. This is because short term gains offer little insight into customer behaviour or ways to improve future campaigns. Negative results can often be more useful than positive ones provided that the reasons why are understood. Finding out more about a user is the main goal of any online marketing experiment and with the wealth of data available through tracking it would be a shame not to gain useful insights.

The most accessible way to test marketing messages is by testing PPC ads. As long as advertising policies are adhered to this can be an effective and immediate way to learn from a target audience. A PPC ad can be thought of as a promise to a vistor whether this is a benefit or something less tangible i.e. quality, stability, reliability. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs comes to mind.


Testing both negative and positive messages can have a significant impact on results. For example, if every competitor has a positive tone to their ad, use a negative tone to provoke fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). Sometimes this can be the best way to differentiate yourself from competitors in the ad rank. Also note that it isn't always the best ad that gets the most clicks.

New advertisers commonly make the mistake of saying more than they should in an ad by asking for too much too soon. Marketing is a process of incremental micro conversions that leads the prospective customer down the purchase funnel to a sale. Whether a PPC ad is the first touch or last touch channel, the messages need to lead people onto a landing page where you will try to achieve the next/final micro conversion (unless you are using click-to-call or click-to-download).

Today's marketers have the ability and resources to bridge art and science to get a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the customer. This is at the core of gaining a competitive advantage and will directly translate into a unique value proposition. A unique value proposition can be found by asking the question, what can we offer that competitors cannot? This needs to be defined so that a company can differentiate itself from it's competition. Examples of this are cost reduction, brand status, value and exclusivity. The message needs to be clear and concise.


Once enough data has been gathered from testing different messages, use the best performing ads and Google Analytics to create a profile of who you think the customer may be. Create a hypothesis about each customer profile and split these into separate ad group. Where in the purchase funnel is a person when they see your ad and what might they be thinking? Don't worry if you're wrong about this, just make sure you realise why. Rinse and repeat until you find the highest converting profiles, then test some more.

Reward worthy failure – Experimentation.
Bill Gates

Ben Maden

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