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There is a classic scene in the movie Roxanne in which Steve Martin takes a bet that he can come up with 20 better ways to insult himself than just saying “Big nose.” While trying to work on copy for ads, it struck me that PPC optimization, or optimizing ad copy, is a lot like this.
Optimization is a word often thrown around by marketing experts nowadays, possibly motivated by feelings of inadequacy next to online tech rockstars. Their phrasing usually goes something like this: “put your message out there and then start optimizing until you have the best conversion rates ever seen on planet Earth.” It is as if ad platforms come with a little button that says “optimize” that you push once you have uploaded the content, and magically a month later the world is brighter, shinier, than if you had come up with your very own buzz terms.
However, the reality is closer to: you put up two versions of your content (whether it be an Adwords ad, an online display ad, or even a landing page), and run traffic to both simultaneously. The version that performs better is kept, and the version that performs worse is dropped. Next you put up a new alternate version and run it against the earlier champion, in a sort of marketing playoffs bracket. Once again you axe the loser and bring on another challenger, and so on, until you have a truly “optimized” version.
The challenging part of all this is not in how to run the split tests. Oh no – there are myriad tools for that (it’s even built into most ad platforms, like Google Adwords). The challenge is coming up with all the alternate versions of your headers, cross heads, feature benefit statements, and calls to action. Whether you’re working with text ads or banners, you also have the joy of being restricted to a sort of haiku-like sparseness in how many characters are either allowed or practical for the medium. Google adds a little twist to this, by disallowing the words “click here” in the call to action. (Google’s own ad, btw, which shows up on every search: See your ad here)
So, here goes with my twenty something betters (all from actual ads currently running on Google):
- For the joiners: Signup Now!
- For the chatty: Call today
- For the organized: Schedule your appointment today
- For travelers: Book now
- For the lonely: Visit today
- From an engineer-led startup: Demo Our Software Now!
- For the content hoarder: Download Our Guide Now!
- For the adventurous: Explore Your Options
- For the cheapskates: Use Our Free Service Now!
- For the inquisitive: Find Out More
- For the seeker: Locate an Advisor
- For the 1%: End Your Tax Nightmare With My Help
- For the autodidact: Learn More
- For the ugly: Look & Feel Great Now.
- For those who like to haggle: See all prices
- For those looking for love: Reserve Your Date!
- For the skeptical: Check Availability & View Packages
- For the studious: Enroll Today
- For the ranscendent: Become a financial advisor / motorcycle mechanic / certified dog groomer
- For those with big noses: Pick!
Photo credit: PPC Cube – courtesy © XtravaganT – Fotolia.com