Last Minute Tips for Moving the CTR Needle this Holiday Season

CTR [source]

Let’s face facts. You have made it to late December and find yourself searching for tips to improve the click-through rate (CTR) on your PPC advertising campaigns. This can only lead me to one of three conclusions:

a) You are incredibly late to the party and looking to launch your last-minute holiday campaigns before it is too late.
b) Your campaigns have been running this season but could use a boost to help get you over the hump.
c) This author peaked your interest with his exotic name and intriguing headline.

After quickly dismissing option C (your laughter hurts people), we can get down to the business of helping to improve your CTR with these actionable tips. Before beginning, I would like to issue the following disclaimer: We are not going to reinvent the wheel fearless reader! Oftentimes, the process of creating online campaigns becomes so daunting that we fail to consider how the ad would impact us if we were the potential purchaser. Commonsense can often win the day in both ad copy and landing page design, which are the two key elements we are touching on here.

PPC Tips to Increase Holiday Ad CTR

Be exclusive: Don’t be afraid to play up the uniqueness and/or scarcity of your offer. A surfer looking for your offer on the SERP needs to make an emotional connection with your campaign in less than five seconds. Your listings face that reality each time they are viewed. Eye-catching phrases like “Save X% off regular price” or “Free Next Day Shipping” might seem cliché, but used in combination with a targeted landing page, can provide a significant boost to your CTR. You can boost perceived scarcity further by including an expiration date within your ad copy (see image A). No one wants to miss a great deal; capitalize on that.

Name drop as if your (PPC) life depends on it. It is always a good idea to take full advantage of built-in brand value whenever you can. Mentioning a well-known brand in your copy adds an additional layer of relevance in the eyes of your potential customer. Even if the brand you are promoting is not as well known as major competitors, utilizing the brand name in your copy, compared to a broader term, can improve performance.

Don’t fight the science! Experiment with A/B testing. A/B testing is a methodology in advertising of using randomized experiments with two variants, A and B, which are the control and treatment in the controlled experiment — at least that’s how Wikipedia describes it. Put plainly, craft two versions of your ad copy and run them for a specified period. Since these are last-minute tips for your holiday campaigns, time is of the essence. Run for 3-5 days, at most, in order to accrue enough data to pick a winner. With your winning ad identified, create a new ad, testing additional elements and repeat the experiment. Your goal should be to take the best aspects of the winning ad and continue growing them through additional trials.

Make the connection between their search and your offer. Use the keyword or a Dynamic Keyword Insert (DKI) in your ad title and/or description. Most ad platforms offer some sort of DKI to ensure that the searched keyword appears in the ad title or description (see image B). A surfer is more likely to click on your ad if their search query appears in it, due to a perceived greater relevance to the query. Use this to your advantage to drive higher CTR.

Consider the mobile dilemma. Is your website optimized to capitalize on mobile visitors? While this may be less of an issue for newer landing pages, older sites may not display properly on the small screen. Not sure if this applies to you? Then it likely does. Exclude mobile traffic sources to make sure more of your advertising dollars are targeted toward sources that have traditionally worked for you.

Remember the words of Mark Twain, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” Following these best practices is sure to get those cash registers, or in this case payment processors, ringing this holiday season.

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of WebsiteMagazine