As most of you know, success or failure in PPC advertising depends on a number of factors: the keyword list, keyword matching options, the bidding strategy, the landing page choice, the selection and price of the offerings, the ease of shopping or registering on the site and much more. Often times, ad copy is one of the last things PPC advertisers mess with - despite the fact it can help qualify the visitor before they even reach your site.
As George Michie of the RimmKaufman Blog writes, tinkering with ad copy too much can cost you, however. Here’s how:
- Quality Score Erosion: The three biggest components of quality score are Click-Through Rate (CTR), bid, landing pages and historical performance (CTR) for the account. The CTR measured is based on historical data for that combination of keyword and copy. Interestingly, the data is not retailer specific; if Google knows that the combination of a keyword and copy block have not performed well for one retailer, they expect it not to work well for others, either. Every time a retailer changes their copy, they lose the Quality Score they’ve built up on the old combination. If the old combination was doing better than average, the change will immediately either increase CPCs or lower position on the page, or both. If the new combination turns out to be better, great, but if not you’ll never recoup this loss. It’s very difficult to materially improve copy after the first few tests, so the odds of doing harm are pretty good.
- Hanging Offer Copy: You can minimize the Quality Score damage by running the new copy as an additional version, rather than a replacement, but that can result in two other problems. First, the new copy is randomly interchanged with the old copy on a rotational basis. Second, it’s compelling to constantly roll out new versions on the theory that the best version will win out, the problem is if offer copy is in the mix it is all too easy to leave those offer text blocks running after the offer has expired. That can really get you in hot water.
- Opportunity Costs: This is often the most costly piece. Many firms get so wrapped up in frenetic copy changes that they stop paying attention to those other factors that have far more impact on the campaign’s performance. Careful analysis of the data may not be as easy to demonstrate to the corner office, but the benefits that flow into smart, subtle adjustments to bid strategy, scrutiny of search strings and match types, and extra attention to the performance changes going into and coming out of a holiday generate much greater return on the investment of time.
Some bad reasons to change copy?
- Because the overall performance of the program is heading south. If the big numbers are moving in the wrong direction the problem is not the ad copy, it’s bigger than that. Look to your bidding, keyword lists, match types and landing pages to find the real problem.
- Because you’re “tired” of the old copy. Remember most of the folks who search for your products have never seen the copy before. They’re not tired of it, and they’re the ones that matter.
- Because you don’t know what else to do. Here are some ideas on additional ways to improve your existing campaign:
- Increasing Quality Score
- Improving Quality Score in Yahoo
- Improving Retail Ad Copy
- Understanding the "Insert Keyword Feature"
- Because it’s important to look busy. We think it’s more important to generate results, and you’re more likely to make progress by analyzing data and adjusting the big levers as the analyses suggest.