Practical Guide to SEM Ad Copy Testing

As the cost to advertise continues to grow (thanks Google), the question of “how do we get more sales/leads/phone calls for less” becomes more and more prominent.

When looking for solutions, ad copy best practice and testing is often overlooked - however it should actually be at the top of your priority list when it comes to optimising your search engine marketing activity. It is one of the quickest and best ways to uncover insights about your customers to determine what they like, when they like it and why they like it.

Imagine the benefits if you were able to improve your CTR by 1% to 10% whilst maintaining your costs and conversion rate? These are the sorts of SEM performance improvements our SEM consultants have seen by focussing on ad copy best practice and continual testing. With this in mind, we have prepared this practical guide.

1. Follow Ad copy and Ad extension best practices

It is recommended to have multiple ad copy variations in your ad groups so they can be tailored to the specific audience segments. Not all messaging resonates the same way to each user and Google has enough data to confidently serve an ad that is more likely to perform better. This can be scaled through the use of smart bidding strategies.

By having multiple ad copy variations within each ad group, you will be able to clearly identify what works and what doesn’t. This doesn’t occur if there are a limited volume of active ads.

By using all available ad extensions that are tailored to your business, your ads have a better chance of winning the ad auction as they tie directly to your quality score rating. The better your quality score, the better your costs and eligibility to win the auction.  

2. Don’t be boring. Good creative always wins. 

Use SEM as an opportunity to test new concepts and tag lines that can be utilised across your SEM campaign and wider media mix. SEM is an ideal channel to test quickly and gather insights almost immediately. 

It’s also important when devising creative to ensure you include the key benefits that your customers will experience versus advocating how great you are. Brands that put their customer first continue to outshine their competitors.

3. Make the most of the ad copy features to help scale performance.

To help with making incremental gains and with the personalisation of your messaging, there are features in Google Ads that can help scale ad copy performance.  Some examples are:  

  • “Count Down function” to help drive urgency of a sale, promotion, or event

  • “IF Functions” to help tailor your ad copy message based on specific audiences and devices

  • “Ad Customiser Function” to help include the user’s location within the ad copy. 

By applying these features, you automatically multiply the quantity of ad variations that are in your account meaning you are “Working Smarter, Not Harder”.

4. Have a plan to help you stay accountable

To quote the seven Ps of the British Army “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”. This can be applied when creating and maintaining an ad copy testing framework. It is recommended to have a clear guide to determine:

  • Who are you trying to target?

  • What do you want to test?

  • How will this test help answer your business challenges?

  • When do you want to test this messaging?

  • Are there any seasonal demands that can affect performance?

  • What are the key measures of success?

  • Most importantly - what did you learn so you can adapt for the future? 

By following these steps and advice when it comes to managing your ad copy testing your SEM performance will improve and you will develop valuable insights on your customers. It will also ensure that your account will adhere to proven best practices, your ad copy will be customer centric, ad copy testing will be done at scale through the use of advanced features and you will have a plan in place to keep you accountable.