There’s More to Ad Quality Than Clickthrough Rate

One of the easiest, most-common ways to assess the success of a consumer paid search campaign is by looking at Clickthrough Rate. Clicks over impressions. A simple percentage, and seemingly a sure way to confirm whether you’re using effective ads.

The ways to improve that CTR are also pretty commonly known. It’s well-documented that using a targeted keyword list, and repeating those keywords specifically in your ad text will drive clicks. It’s known that you’ll bring more visitors to your client’s site by using active verbs to encourage the user. And, if need be, increasing your bid is often a sure-fire, if sometimes inefficient, way to draw more eyes.

But, as is also well-documented, consumer paid search campaigns are made or broken not based on CTR, but on Conversion Rate. Sure, it’s nice to get visitors to a client’s site, but those visitors don’t mean a thing if they don’t become customers.

Some things to consider:

Ads aren’t just an entry point. They can be a filter.
Perhaps your client is in a competitive consumer space, and is not the price leader in the field. After all, there’s only one price leader. Write ad text to drive away users who are only looking for the cheapest product they can find. I’m thinking of words like “Premium,” “High-quality,” “Exclusive.” Focus on what makes your client unique, and a brand worth purchasing from. (If indeed your client is the price leader, let that be known, too. It’s “Guaranteed,” not just “Low.”)

It’s not a differentiator if everyone is doing it.
Search any consumer good commonly purchased online. (Is there a consumer good that isn’t?) How many ads do you see that focus on the speed of shipping? Quite a bit. In this case, “Fast,” “Speedy,” and “Quick” aren’t enough. Find the ad space to write that you offer “Same-Day” or “Next-Day” shipping. Can’t get it to the customer that quickly? Then find a new differentiator.

You don’t have to use the entire ad space.
Seriously. If you’re looking at 58 characters, you can probably ad another adjective or use a stronger verb but, if your ad is checking in at 65, it’s probably fine. Really.

Ads don’t have feelings.
It’s easy (though, in the grand scheme of things, perhaps a bit sad) to get attached to an ad. You found the space for two verbs. In your estimation, it’s the perfect distillation of what makes your client great. But it’s not converting. Axe it, now. Slash and burn. (Be gentle. Maybe ease in a new headline, or a slightly-tweaked verb.) Still not converting? Slash and burn, but with a smile.

A headline can be more than a label.
It’s important that your ad encourages activity. The headline is presumably the first thing a searcher sees, and adding the word “Shop” or “Buy” or “Search” can do wonders. Use that headline real estate.

There’s not much space to work with in a standard paid search ad. With a short headline and 70 characters of text, a paid search marketer has to place his or her focus on finding not just a prospect, but the right prospect.