Posts tagged create

How to create winning ad copy using a scientific approach

I have a question for you: what’s the program you first turn to when creating your ad copy? If you’re like the majority of people today, your answer would be Excel.

Unfortunately, that might be the wrong answer.

While Excel is a fantastic program and is central to our day-to-day life in PPC, it’s not the best place to start with brainstorming ad copy.

Why?

If you’re writing text while constantly checking the length in the corresponding LEN() column, you’re stymieing your creativity. There’s a better way to create winning ads.

Let’s take charge of the whole process with a simple framework for brainstorming and ad copy creation that earns results.

The conversion formula

When in doubt, turn to science.

The conversion optimization industry is a fantastic source of inspiration here. It’s literally a part of their job to understand the target audience and pinpoint how to best persuade them to take action. Exactly what we want our ad copy to do.

The folks at MECLABS came up with a conversion formula that can be a framework for ad copy creation:

ad formula

Let’s break this down. The formula says that the probability of conversion is dependent on:

  • The motivation of the user (when am I ready to buy?)
  • Plus the clarity of your value proposition (why should I buy from you?)
  • Plus incentive to take action minus friction in the process
  • Minus anxiety about giving personal information to complete the transaction.

Think of Zappos as an example of a business model that follows this formula. Their motivation and value proposition is a wide selection of shoes to fit a large variety of sizes at affordable prices, delivered right to your door. However, the shoe doesn’t always fit.

They understood the friction and anxiety points of the shoes not fitting and having to spend money on return shipping. Cleverly, they minimized this by offering fast and free shipping- both ways. Think about it, would you shop from Zappos if they didn’t have free return shipping?

We can take this formula and apply to an ad copy framework.

It works best if we take each element from the formula as a focus point. We can then ideate on the best tactics to highlight the focus areas, and then go through and brainstorm potential messaging to speak to the tactic.

Here’s a sample of what it could look like:

ad framework

This gives the brainstorming process a little more structure while still allowing for creative freedom. Ads can then be compiled and written by picking and choosing from the different focus points.

An ad that follows this conversion framework might look like this:

Ad sample

Using this framework for ad copy creation gives you three important things:

  1. More discipline in your copy brainstorming. The framework reminds you to hit from all angles, and you’re less likely to forget important points.
  2. You can share this with your client to explain your process and to make the case for trying something different.
  3. It can make you more organized as you build a library of copy that you’ve tried. Consider creating a grid where you enter new copy for each tactic.

A brainstorming suggestion that won’t make you roll your eyes

There’s a lot of research on the effectiveness (or non-effectiveness) of brainstorming. But the bottom line is that at some point you’re going to need to sit down and put some time into thinking about fresh ad copy. Whether you call that a brainstorm or a working session or lunchtime is up to you; it’s all of those.

I’ve found three steps to be pretty effective in coming up with new ad copy for paid search. I’ve also found that if I just do the same old thing over and over, I get no new ideas! So change things up and consider these tips:

1) Build your foundation

Another way to say this is “do your research.” Understand the voice of the customer, what their needs, fears and other triggers are. You can do this by surveying the customer certainly, but a faster and equally effective way to do this is by speaking to customer service reps. Ask them:

  • How does your product or service help customers?
  • Why do customers want to buy what you sell?
  • What are most common questions you answer? Common objections you hear?
  • And what about the competition; In what ways are they better than you? Or weaker?
  • Is there a different audience for your product or service than you assume? For example, sailboat owners use climbing gear when they work on their masts; if you’re selling climbing gear, are you considering this audience?

In this part of the brainstorm, leave no stone unturned. Consider every possible angle, problem, solution and question.

2) Go crazy

This is where you actually start writing. And I strongly encourage you to step away from Excel; that application is not conducive to creative inspiration.

Instead, turn to Word or pull out a stack of plain paper, a lovely pen and cup of fresh coffee. Let your ideas come without thinking about word count. Just write it all down, free form.

To keep things organized, you might put ads into categories that fit the framework above. Some will hit especially hard on the value prop, some will be all about removing friction and some will combine all the aspects in the framework.

3) Create your final ads

Some people aren’t fond of editing down all their beautiful work; to me it’s the biggest joy because I know I’m mining for diamonds at this point. Find the ads that stand out to you and refine them.

Taking this top down approach means you can be more strategic about your ad extensions. You know your overarching messaging, so you can separate out the content that would be better as an ad extension, or tailor the overall ad based on which device it will show on.

When you’re done with all this creative work, you can get back to the comfort of Excel and your reports and data. But in the meantime, mine your creative streak for all it’s worth.

Do you have a special brainstorming practice for ad copy that you find is very effective? Please share it so we can all get smarter and more creative.

Purna Virji is Senior Bing Ads Client Development and Training Manager at Microsoft and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

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Create exceptional experiences and connect with other MarTech executives this November in London

There’s little doubt that we stand at the dawn of marketing’s Golden Age, a time when digital customer experiences and services routinely surprise and delight. Those mastering software-powered marketing are in the vanguard of this new age. Meet them at MarTech: The Marketing Technology Conference….

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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How to create insights from consumers’ click histories

Without any action behind it, data is just a bunch of numbers. Clickstream data is particularly valuable, providing insights about what consumers are doing.

Data alone does not lead to insights. Analyzed data backed by a hypothesis and placed in the right context, on the other hand, does.

Clickstream information is a particularly good set of data for marketers to examine if they want to understand their customers better and connect with them based on their actions.

The many benefits of clickstream data

With clickstream data, you can examine not only how customers are interacting with your brand, but also what they are doing before and after they arrive at your site.

clickstream-data

Clickstream information is based on consumers’ actual click and browsing behaviors, with records of click-throughs and URLs visited collected in the order they occurred, giving marketers important, industrywide insight into online behavior, the customer journey through the funnel, and user experiences.

Rather than providing simple numbers of visits or sales, clickstream information reflects consumer behavior based on their activity and identifies areas companies could improve where the competition might be doing it better.

The insights garnered from clickstream data may not always match your hypothesis, but they are always useful if you ask the right questions.

Don’t collect data just because numbers are nice to fall back on. Instead, focus on collecting information like click history that is directly tied to your business objectives and key performance indicators.

Identify what you want to learn, and focus your collection and analysis on that specific data subset.

Make the most of your clickstream data

Creating actionable insights out of your data is essential to portraying a full and accurate picture of the customer journey. Maximize the effectiveness of your clickstream analysis by employing these three tactics:

1. Have a hypothesis

This is a minimum requirement for a data project to be efficient and lead to insights. Without a hypothesis, you’re just wasting time. The more specific you are in your data requests, the easier it is for your data team to pinpoint exactly what they need to pull, analyze, and provide.

You don’t have to be sure of the outcome, and the data may prove you wrong, but that’s OK. Just be sure your data team enters a project focused and that they reach a conclusion.

Let’s say you run a display campaign to drive awareness and clicks to your own site for a product. If you sell that product through third-party distributors, like Amazon or Target, your hypothesis might be that your display campaign is influencing purchase behavior and conversions on these third-party sites. Without clickstream data, it’s very hard to connect those two pieces and prove or disprove this hypothesis.

tie-to-kpis

2. Tie your analysis to KPIs

Your analysis might reveal plenty of information about how consumers reach and interact with your brand or with your competition, but not all information yields actionable insights. You might find that consumers searching your website tend to search three times. That’s interesting, but you don’t gain real insights from it without understanding how their search activity affects their subsequent behavior or how it differs from consumer search activity on competitors’ sites.

Structuring your hypothesis and analysis around KPIs diminishes the risk of reaching insights that are not actionable. If your leading KPI is, say, trial subscriptions, look into the trial conversion flow of your competitors, and reverse engineer their customer journey through the funnel to detect conversion and abandonment trends at each step.

If the vast majority of consumers bounce during step three of five on your site (but not on your competitors’ sites), test out consolidation steps to improve the user experience and increase conversions.

3. Identify your output goals

Without a clear goal for what you intend to do with clickstream data, you cannot transform it into actionable insights. Are you studying customer journeys to optimize conversions or user experience? Are you looking for details about PR or case studies to grow brand awareness and generate leads?

Answering these questions and setting intentions for your data will help you in many ways, from filtering data requests from the get-go to guiding your thought process when focusing your data request and analysis.

By analyzing customers’ online actions – clicks, purchases on other sites, and their browsing history — with specific output goals, you reveal a world of insight into how they interact with your brand’s web properties, your competition, and how they react to your offering.

Don’t collect clickstream data just for the sake of collecting it. Understand what you want to investigate and how you can benefit from it. Make sure it’s relevant to your company, and then analyze clickstream data to better understand your customers’ actions and optimize their experience.

Marketers need to go beyond just the numbers and patterns that data provides if they want to successfully understand and connect with consumers. Focusing on customer actions will lead to a better understanding of your audience and what resonates with them, increasing the success of your marketing efforts and, ultimately, creating a better business.

This is an abridged version of an article published earlier this week on our sister site ClickZ.

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