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Give your Headlines some Love with these 4 Test Ideas

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Guest / January 14, 2016

When it comes to testing your PPC ads, it’s not unusual to see this task fall to the bottom of your list. In fact, sometimes it doesn’t make it on the list at all. PPC ad copy is the epitome of “set it & forget it.” I cannot tell you how many clients I’ve worked with who haven’t changed their ad copy in… wait for it… years. Yes, plural!

“Ad copy is the only part of your account that a searcher ever sees. Your ad has only seconds to grab the searcher’s attention, connect with them, and direct them to click on your ad to visit your website. If your ad fails to deliver visitors to your website, designing exceptional pages in a waste of time since they will never be seen.”– Brad Geddes

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*image courtesy of BoostCTR

One of the main challenges I hear about is figuring out what to test. Indeed, there is an art and science to testing, and the more methodical you are about the process, the more success you’ll see. But what if we just wanted to start small? What if, instead of developing a full optimization plan, we started with small baby steps to get us in the habit of testing?

This is exactly what I’m hoping to achieve with this post. My goal is to show you 4 elements that you can test in your headlines and give you examples of how others advertisers have applied them.

Before you get too excited, I suggest you only test one element at a time so you can be able to isolate factors of success and/or failure. Meaning, if you combine multiple elements right off the bat, you won’t really know which one created the effect you’re seeing. Instead, test one, observe the effect, and perhaps gradually add more to it.

For example, if you’ve tested adding the price in your headline and found that to be successful, try adding the brand name as well. You might find that the ad underperformed in that case, and you’ll need to revert back to the price only option.

#1: Test Prices

No one likes a salesman who just won’t tell you the price of what you want to buy. But that’s assuming you want to buy in the first place. If you think of that in the context of your ads, you’ll see that your online audience may not necessarily be at the buying phase or ready to make a purchase. As a reminder, the classic buying cycle contains the phases of awareness, interest, desire, action/purchase, support, loyalty and advocacy.

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*image courtesy of outboundengine.com

If you know that your shopper is in the shopping or buying phase, including your price in the headline can be a great way to entice them to take action. Here’s a great example for a GoPro Hero4 camera–

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Or, and this one is not for the faint of heart, if you wanted to get really specific–

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You’ll find price inclusion particularly popular in certain industries or verticals where good prices trump brand loyalty. Travel and hospitality is one industry that has mastered that, as evident in the five consecutive ads below–

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#2: Test Percentage Discounts

If your price changes regularly, it may be challenging to keep up with updating ad copy that includes specific product prices. Technically speaking, you could split those ads out into their own adgroup with price specific information, but as I mentioned in the beginning of the post, this is all about creating ease to get in the habit of testing.

Here are two advertisers who are capturing their searchers’ attention by mentioning discounts in their headline.

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One way to know if a searcher is further in the funnel is to see if they are using branded keywords in their ad. This might give you the indication that they’ve settled on a particular brand and may be ready to see prices or offers that would seal the deal.

#3: Test Brand Names

Speaking of brand, that’s another great element to test in your headlines. Sometimes, a searcher may be looking for a product or service but may not necessarily be familiar with a brand, or even know that your brand offers it.

In the example below, I was searching for vegan handbags. Go ahead, you can make fun of me. No seriously, I’ll wait.

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In this case, I didn’t have brand knowledge, let alone loyalty or advocacy. Seeing that Matt & Nat, a brand I’m slightly familiar with, made the kind of bag I want created some trust and credibility in this situation, and added this brand to my list of potential purchases.

#4: Test Calls-To-Action

Logically, we tend to add the call to action at the very end of the ad, when we feel like we’ve made the case as to why someone should click our ad. That’s fine, and also logical, but it follows the assumption that the searcher will read our entire ad to find out what they’re supposed to do next. I know this doesn’t sound like a lot to ask when an ad is only a couple hundred characters, but we all know that people don’t read. So why not tell them right off the bat?

Remember that CTAs don’t have to be your generic “buy now” or “shop now.” 

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Lastly, you’ll want to refer to the buyer cycle/funnel above and make some inferences regarding where your shoppers are in their journey and adjust your CTA accordingly. For example, the ad below is geared towards shoppers in the comparison phase–

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So there you have it. Four simple but powerful elements to get you started on headline testing. Have you tested any of these in the past? What kind of effects did they have on your ad performance? Let us know in the comments below.

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