Never Quit Testing in the PPC World Read On »
By Safiyyah Lanier March 3, 2010

The biggest mistakes PPC managers make is not successfully testing out their ads. This is an integral part of any ad campaign. Too many people think that just picking out the right keywords is all it takes to make a great ad campaign, but I beg to differ. The only way to improve your ads and ensure that you’re getting the best out of your campaigns is to test them out. Here are a few of the biggest mistakes you should avoid making for your PPC ads:

  1. Not planning to test: As mentioned above, it is important to implement tests in your PPC ads to see how effective they are. There’s no point in keeping around ads that aren’t generating enough CTR. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
  2. Not using the right metrics for testing: Okay, so some have attempted to test out their PPC, but they measure it incorrectly. Some people measure their ads performance based on the ROI, using CTR. The proper metrics to use are CPL for leads and ROAS for sales. Some may want to judge their ads overall, but the best way is to judge each individually, based on their success or failure. Knowing where to tweak each ad or whether to keep or delete them is your top priority here.
  3. Over testing is another problem PPC managers seem to have. Testing is good and should always be done, but there are limits. Testing too much could be strenuous for your budget. Through proper budgeting and usage of proven keywords or adscould help you to optimize your next cycle. Also, keep in mind that over testing can reduce ROI — each time you test an ad your ROI is lowered. It can also have a negative impact on the ROAS (hint: don’t test a lot of ads at one time).

How to Put Your PPC Ads to the Test

Now, that you know the common mistakes PPC managers make, it’s time to learn how to do things the right way. The approach you should use with your ad’s headlines is DKI, or Dynamic Keyword Insertion. You can do this during the first few rounds of testing for your ads. Don’t be fooled by some who say that your headline is what matters most, in fact your content is what helps you to sell yourself even better. Try different test offers, value propositions and calls to action — anything that answers the most important question a user has — “why buy from your site?”

With DKI, you will match your headlines with the queries inserted by searchers. So if someone is looking around for “wireless head set” or “cordless headset”, and you have ads for “wireless headsets”, your ad will adjust itself accordingly for increased relevance (the keyword must be in your Ad Group and it has to fit your headline). Now, if someone were to type in “I’m searching for popular wireless head sets”, which is a long tail term, the term “wireless head sets” will be displayed in your headline as long as it is broad or phrase matched.

Now, the first thing you will need to do during the first round is to create two to four different versions of one of your ads and then run them against each other. Make sure you use DKI for their headlines. For the content in the ads, ensure that it is your best and offers a unique value proposition — the top line can be your testing line and the second can be where the proposition is placed. The first line of your ad should make it stand out and bring the reader in. This can be a low price offer — whatever will improve your CTR. You can test out prices and then no-price ads to see which work better.

Then for the Display URL, you can also use DKI, but it isn’t mandatory. Some people place it at the end of the URL to help boost the relevancy of their keywords. There are some who even argue that the length of the URL has an impact on the CTR (shorter brings in more click through rates), but you can test this out yourself. Leave this for round two or three if you already have different variables in your test run (having too many variables will make it difficult to know why your ad is performing negatively or positively).

Once you have tested them out for however long, you will need to begin eliminating the losers. You can then replace them with new ads to replace them and test. Remember, once you delete an ad, it’s gone for good. Before moving on to each round, make sure you know which ads are performing the best. Keep re-trying different variations until you find winner(s).

Before you go, Here are some key points to keep in mind throughout the testing of your ads:

  • Never stop testing!
  • Have your limits, don’t test more than one variable at any given time.
  • Try using to see if your test ad is winner or loser.
  • Only uses prices or other numbers in your ads if it makes sense to.
  • Double check…no, triple check your ad copy for errors. And make sure the correct landing pages are properly linked.
  • Try not to use brand names in your headlines unless your landing page and ad group is specifically targeting the brand.
  • Use your unique propositions whenever possible.
  • Don’t only look at click through rates, look at ad converts as well.
  • Capitalize the URLS and first letters of each word in your ad (strategy that has been proven to work).

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