When it doesn’t click,
you still don’t know who I am
and what I want.

By Christian N.

It doesn't click. You still don't know who I am and what I want.

This post is about doubling tripling your Google AdWords click-through-rates and rising above the noise.

The phone rang.

For the 5th time this morning. Again, the same unknown number. And again no voicemail was left. Maybe it was Kyle, we broke up two days ago. I don’t want to speak to him. But maybe it’s something urgent. I should pick up if it’s urgent. I usually never answer the phone unless I know who’s calling. No time for strangers. Still, I’m curious and a little worried.

Just typed in “reverse phone look up” in Google hoping to find a service that can help me find out who’s calling for the 5th time today. A link says:

  • Reverse Phone Lookup
  • Accurate Phone Number Lookup Here
  • Do A Phone Number Lookup Now!
  • ReversePhoneWebsite.com

Sounds like what I’m looking for. But something else catches my attention…

  • Reverse Phone Lookup
  • Type In Any Phone Number
  • And Find Out Who’s Calling You
  • ReversePhoneWebsite.com

Exactly what I want.  Click.

Do you know the thoughts, images and emotions going through your prospects mind as they google search with the keywords you’re advertising on? The second ad took a 0.79% CTR to 3.31%. Quality Score rose from 7/10  to 10/10.

I heard someone somewhere say that there were foods that could actually help me burn fat.  I hate excercise but I love to eat. Let me see if I can find a list on Google of those things I can eat and still loose weight. Typing in “foods that burn fat” should do it. Ok, so i see an ad here that says:

  • Foods That Burn Body Fat?
  • Some foods make you fat. These
  • meals are hidden fat-burning foods.
  • FatBurningWebsite.com

Sounds like it. Let’s click. Oh, wait a minute, this ad below says:

  • Top 5 Fat Burning Foods
  • Some foods make you fat. These 5
  • meals are hidden fat-burning foods.
  • FatBurningWebsite.com

Holy crap, that’s even better — a list. I want to know what’s first on that list. I’ll click that one instead.

You need to find the story going into your prospects mind’s as they type your keyword into Google. That’s what I did to increase the first ad’s CTR from 3.33% to 7.02%. Quality Score rose from 7/10 to 10/10.

Maggie opened an Adwords account a couple of months ago and found it kinda mind-boggling that she could set up a few ads and get traffic to her website within minutes. But it seemed she was paying to much on some of those keywords. Didn’t some of the adwords help pages talk about a thing called quality score and how it impacted costs? She decided to search about it and typed  “quality score” in Google. This is what she saw:

  • Quality Score Software
  • Track, optimize and increase Adwords
  • Quality Scores. Try free demo.
  • Tenscores.com/FreeDemo

A free demo sounds nice but she didn’t even quite undestand what this quality score stuff was anyway.

3 days later, she came back for the same search, this time she saw:

  • What Is Quality Score?
  • It’s how Adwords defines how much
  • you pay. Read free book, no sign up.
  • Tenscores.com/FreeAdwordsBook

She clicked.

Discovering that Maggie didn’t really know what Quality Score was helped increase my CTR from 0.51% to 2.53%. Quality Score rose from 3/10 to 7/10.

None of the above ads are imaginary (except for the display urls) and I could give you dozens more examples. The process I used to increase CTR was the same — each time. Getting to know the person behind every keyword. Sometimes you’ll discover a specific word to use. Sometimes it’s the way you present your offer. Sometimes you’ll discover that your product isn’t actually adequate and you’ll know why.

Every search is a story.
Find it.

You know a lot about your business.

Your new job is to discover your prospects story right before they click on your ad (or not). Just like a detective. You are the Columbo of online search, the Hercule Poirot of advertising, the Sherlock Holmes of your keywords.

Step I. Make your enemy your best friend.

This step is important.

Especially if you’re starting out in the art of copywriting.

You’re a very lucky puppy, chances are your competitors have already done half the work for you. You need to find their ads and use them as a springboard to your own research.

But how do you know which of your competitors ads are working for them?

I’ve used a number of services in the past to spy on competitors, some recommendations are SEMRush, SpyFu and iSpionage.

Whatever you use, it has to have the ability to show you how long an ad has appeared for a particular keyword. If the ad has been running for 286 days, you know it’s working. Try your competitor’s ad yourself (or a variation) and see how they compare.

In the past, I couldn’t write effective ads. Leveraging competitors ads was a Goldmine. Still is sometimes. Although these days I skip this step because I don’t need it anymore. With enough practice, you won’t need it either.

Step II. Ask Google.

This step is very important.

There’s a reason Google is so popular. They know what searchers want.

Google has all kinds of algorithms to figure out what it is that people want. Use it. Take a very close look at the natural search results that are returned for your chosen keyword.

Are they informational?

If so, what kind of information are they providing? What are the words being used?

Are they commercial in nature?

If so, what are the features being put forward? Take a lot of time to understand why a searcher would click on a link over the other. Why should they click your ad over the natural search results? Why should they click your ad over the other ads?

I spend an awful lot of time on this one.

I click the websites returned.

I find blog posts for the keyword and read all user comments.

The pain they’re expressing.

Their frustrations.

The solutions they want.

If you spend enough time on this, a pattern will start to emerge. You will start to see clearly what the story behind the keyword really is.

Step III. Step into the Disco Dance.

This step is important.

In step 2 you started discovering what it is that your searcher is looking for. Now place them along the search funnel.

I call it the D.I.S.C.O Dance (Discovery, Interest, Study, Comparison, Order).

Your job is to lead the dance to a purchase. Preferably on your website.

And you will tailor your message according to each step of the dance. Since I’ve already written about this, I’ll send you to all the details here.

Step IV. Close your eyes, feel their pain.

This step is THE MOST important. And the weirdest.

Now that you have an idea of what the real story is, find out if it’s true.

Close your eyes.

Play the story in your head.

Feel the pain, the frustration or the quick problem your searcher needs a solution to.

What was she or he doing?

What led to that search — really? Is it something small? Or is it something that will affect their life?

What were the exact thoughts and images that they played into their minds right before typing those exact words in Google?

Take time to do this. At least 10 minutes with your eyes closed.

Now open your eyes and…

Step V. Write something.

You have three headlines and two description lines to synthesize the answer to the story.

Choose your words carefully. The keyword doesn’t have to be in the ad.

Every single word counts.

Get yourself a dictionary and a thesaurus to find more powerful synonyms to the words you want to use. Make sure your solution reflects exactly what searchers are looking for.

It’s important that you forget about your business for the moment. Focus on the searcher.

One thing you might find is that your current landing pages aren’t providing the exact solution you should provide. Maybe you’re trying to sell to someone who’s just looking for information. In which case you’ll need to offer information before you sell. This happens very often.

Now that you’ve written your ad, you’ll probably have a couple (or more ideas) you want to test. Here’s how not to screw it up…

Ad Split Testing.
The right way.

  • Choose rotate evenly (then optimize after 90 days) as your ad rotation settings. Don’t let Google decide for you which ad is best. Do it yourself.
  • In new ad groups, only test 2 ads against each other at any given time. Maybe 3 at most. The first reason is that you want to kill losers fast, more ads make your test longer. The second reason is that you don’t want poor performing ads to dilute good performers’ history.
  • Remember that a CTR below 1% is unacceptable on the search network. If you have 100 impressions and no click, kill that ad, write new one.
  • If QS are suffering, you want big results. Double or triple CTRs. For that, you don’t need more than 100 impressions to make a decision. If your current ad has a 1.5% CTR and your new ad isn’t doubling it within a 100 impressions, it’s not good enough. Pause one of the two ads, go through the process again (without skipping any step this time) and write a new ad.
  • Go wild on the display network. You can test 10 ads at once if you want to. The rules are slightly different. There’s no visible QS on the display network but CTR is still important. And although CTR is important, it doesn’t have to be as high as on search and the “100 impressions” rule doesn’t apply here. Nor does the 1% CTR rule. Display network is where you can really go wild with your ads.

Can’t do this, I have too many keywords…
You may have 1 million keywords in your adwords account. You probably have 1, 2 or 3 categories of searchers. Take one keyword, go through the process, figure out what works in one single ad group then apply what you learn to all your other ad groups that fall into the same category. It’s almost the same as your customer avatar except that keywords reflect your avatar at a different stage in the process, with a different story in their mind.
Getting high click-through-rates can sometimes be detrimental to your business. Your ultimate metric is profit. For ads it is profit-per-impression. Pay close attention to your ROI and kill ads that have high CTR but low conversion rates or negative ROI. Learn more about profit-per-impression. If an ad has a high CTR but doesn’t convert, it means there’s mis-alignment between the landing page and the ad. You can either decide to not run the ad or to align your landing page and increase conversions. I prefer the latter. Most of the times.

Got a comment?
Say it.

This is a topic I’m very passionate about.
In this post are some of the precious discoveries I’ve made. I have more to share, but I’m still learning a lot myself, and I want to learn from you. If you have a technique that works for you, a comment to give, please join the conversation below.
Thanks a bunch!

About Christian N.

Chris is one of the two-man team that founded Tenscores.com, he wrote his first PPC ad in 2007, fell in love and hasn't stopped ever since.
This entry was posted in Advanced, All. Bookmark the permalink.
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30 Responses to When it doesn’t click,
you still don’t know who I am
and what I want.

  1. Andrew says:

    Spot on! You need to get inside the mind of the searcher, to discover their intent, which is often driven by need or pain. Nice post Chris.

  2. Kevin Adams says:

    Chris, every time I think I’ve gotten really good at ad copy I read your stuff and realize I’ve got a lot further to go.

  3. Tyler Cook says:

    Fantastic article Chris! I’ve been in a sort of spring cleaning mood for my CTR and this article is inspiring to say the least!

  4. Trevor says:

    Guess what? I read your blog now

  5. Rajesh Arora says:

    I love the way you teach us. Thanks Chris..

  6. Zöe says:

    Great post, Chris!! :)

  7. Great post Chris. Wish I could explain it as well to my clients. Gotta drop by and say hi soon!


  8. Abi Goettsch says:

    Great article Chris! Your note about using Google organic results to better understand how a keyword is interpreted by the search engine is spot on. I’ve been using this technique for a while to write better ad copy for general/generic head terms and it saves a lot of time and guess work.

    Thanks again!

  9. francisco says:

    This is a great , valuable , content for an article, I am pleased to have done my sign up here.

  10. Emma K says:

    Inspiring and good post! A keeper!
    Don’t forget when testing ads to check the Keyword / Placement segment. Sometimes with many keywords in a group
    you will see a huge difference for some ads together with some
    keywords. A good way to get ideas for which words to make new ad groups of. :)

    • Chris says:

      Excellent suggestion. I’m sure most people don’t know about this segment. I should write a blog post about it…

    • Darren Carter says:

      Awesome suggestion. I’ve got to roll this into ongoing testing. I can instantly see which KWs are driving success and can segment those off right away.

  11. Darren Carter says:

    Thanks for getting to the heart of what makes a great search ad with concrete examples for crafting the best messages and testing the results!

  12. Adam Lundquist says:

    Hello Chris,
    Excellent article, informative and interesting. I do have a question about the first part though. I am interested in seeing how long a competitor has been running their ads and I notice that you mention you have used keywordspy – is that the last seen / first seen column you are referring to or the days seen? I am enclosing a picture to show you what I mean, it seems like the first ad would be the variation i would want to learn from?

    • Chris says:

      Hi Adam, I use the “days seen” column. What I’m looking for are ads that have been running for a long time (ex: 285/285 days), it usually means that they are great ads to get inspired by.

  13. Adam Lundquist says:

    Excellent article. I love the idea of visualizing what they were doing before they typed in the search

    • Chris says:

      That’s the most important thing to do and one that most people don’t take seriously enough. Hope you do this before writing every ad.

  14. Joanna says:

    A treat to read someone write about Adwords who writes so well.

  15. Jarred Williams says:

    Great stuff.. even 5+ years later!

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