8 Ways to Write Terrible Online Ads
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In his book Ultimate Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising, internet marketing expert Richard Stokes helps you master advanced search engine strategies from top search engine marketers to increase your sales. In this edited excerpt, the author reveals the 8 worst mistakes you can make when creating your pay-per-click ads.
When writing your pay-per-click ads, it's helpful to be mindful of what doesn't work. Here are eight mistakes commonly made by paid search marketers.
1. Blindly using keyword insertion. Keyword insertion is an advanced Google AdWords feature that allows you to insert the keyword that triggered your ad directly into the ad copy. To use it, you place a short piece of code into your ad text. Each time the ad shows, the code will be replaced with the targeted keyword.
This works out pretty well if your keywords have been chosen appropriately. For instance, if you are targeting the phrase "Erase Internet History" and you use keyword insertion in the headline, the displayed ad could look like this:
Erase Internet History
Erase your internet history
Fast, easy and secure. Free trial!
However, some advertisers get it wrong, resulting in comical ads such as the following for the term "spyware":
Protect your system with Dell
and save on Spyware today!
Use keyword insertion only for ad groups with carefully chosen keywords.
2. Relying too much on broad keywords. Broad keywords appeal to a wide audience, but they suffer from the disadvantage that it's difficult to adjust ad copy based on searcher behavior. For instance, is the person who typed in "plasma TV"looking to buy a specific plasma television? Or to learn about the different types of flat-panel displays? Or to compare prices?
There's no way to tell for sure, and that's why conversion rates are so low for this keyword. Conversely, traffic is very high, so you end up spending a disproportionate amount of your ad budget to generate relatively few sales.
Broad keywords also suffer from low clickthrough rates. AdGooroo recently ran test advertisements on the shareware for Google. The ad produced a single click in about 1,700 impressions and was quickly disabled. Is this a big deal? You bet. The two factors of high volume and low clickthrough rate will deliver a double whammy to your historical stats, dragging your entire campaign down. This can result in the ads for all your other keywords being penalized!
3. Forgetting to spell check your ads. No matter how long you've been in business or how great your reputation may be, misspellings make your company look unprofessional. Furthermore, ads with obvious misspellings in them often convert at a lower rate. Be sure to double-check all your ad copy before hitting the save button.
4. Using abbreviations to save space. Not everyone, especially non-native English speakers, will understand the following abbreviations:
Sometimes you can't avoid using abbreviations because of space considerations, but you should generally try to write without them.
5. Using technical jargon. Jargon can be useful but generally only in niche B2B categories. If you aren't selling to specialists (for example, scientists or mining engineers), avoid industry jargon. If, on the other hand, you're running a frequency campaign designed to differentiate your product in the minds of expert users and the space is very competitive, technical jargon is worth trying. Most of the time you'll be disappointed, however, because the truth is that people buy what makes them feel good, and technical terminology doesn't speak well to that part of our brains responsible for emotion.
At the end of the day, people buy benefits, not features. And benefits can usually be stated in clear, nontechnical terms.
6. Including your company name in the headline. Unless you're advertising on behalf of a well-known brand, your company name probably doesn't belong in the title.
7. Using superlatives. Superlatives such as "best," "greatest," "#1"and so on generate a sense of suspicion in most people. Avoid using these terms at all costs. I once ran a series of ads that touted our "amazing" new software and had dismal clickthrough rates. The software really was amazing, but searchers didn't respond to this particular claim.
That said, you should always test superlatives in your ad copy. Some do work, but it's highly dependent on your business category.
8. Don't promise what you can't deliver. Not only do people resent being sold a bill of goods, but Google's editors will remove your ad if they learn that you're making unjustifiable claims. Even if you do have the lowest prices, making this claim is a bad idea for a variety of reasons, unless you're credibly positioned as a value company, such as Southwest Airlines or Walmart.
You'll probably get more effective results by clearly stating the price in your ad and letting people judge for themselves. On a related note, does it need to be said that if you can't deliver the goods, then you shouldn't advertise them? This is not only a great way to waste your ad budget, it's also unethical and potentially illegal.