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A Beginner’s Guide to A/B Testing Pay-Per-Click Ads—Part 3: Body Text

Welcome back to the world of pay-per-click ads. If you read the first part of this series, you’ve already learned about how you can use A/B testing to experiment with different variables in your ads to see what gets the most clicks, and if you read part two you learned how to craft engaging headlines for your ads. Today, I’m going to discuss another key component of your ad’s anatomy: the body text.

If you think of your headline like an announcement on a marquee, your body text is more like a movie trailer. It gives your audience more details about what you’re offering, but it should still entice them to click through in order to learn more (or “see the whole movie,” if you want to stick with that analogy).

Your body text will appear in your ad directly below the headline, and it’s broken up into two lines of 35 characters each. That’s right, you’ve got just 70 characters total – which means you have to be concise and persuasive at the same time. Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. Read on to learn what you need to be considering when figuring out how to allocate those 70 characters.

Best Practices

Let your reader know what you’re offering. If you’ve crafted a strong headline, you’ve already grabbed your reader’s attention. In the body, you need to hold their attention by letting them know exactly what you’re offering. Avoid opening with an abstract, artsy line like “your childhood summers, bottled” and opt for the concrete, like “luxury lemonade, reasonable price.”

Make it clear to the reader what they’ll find if they click. This sort of goes along with the previous point, but it’s worth emphasizing. If you’re vague or misleading in your body text, you may get more people clicking through, but then quickly clicking away when they realize your site doesn’t actually contain what they want. Since you’re paying per click, that’s only going to hurt you. Be clear in what you’re offering and get more qualified leads.

Include a strong CTA. That’s call-to-action, or the phrase that’s going to tell readers what they should do now that they’ve read your ad. That could be something like “Enroll now,” “Act now,” “Sign up now”… or you can get a little more creative, with something like “Change your future now.” The goal of the call-to-action is to clear up any lingering confusion the reader might have about the purpose of your ad and to give them an incentive to click through.

Try Different Angles

Remember, you’re going to be A/B testing your ads, which means that you can try a bunch of different approaches to your body text and see what sticks best with your target audience. Just remember the golden rule I’ve been stressing since I started this series: only test one variable at a time (think of it as an “either this or this” scenario) so that it’s clear what variable affected your click-through rate.

Include pricing. If you’re selling a high-end product and people click through because they’re expecting discounts, they’ll quickly click away and you’ll lose out. If you include pricing, this will help weed out the people who don’t have the budget for your product.

Include a discount/promotion. On the other hand, if your mission is to get good products to customers at an affordable price, you need to make sure your ad readers know that’s what you’re doing. If your ad makes it seem like your product may be pricey, you’ll risk scaring away people who are worried about spending too much money. By using your body text to highlight a sale or discount, you’ll assure those people you’re affordable. Plus everyone likes feeling like they’re getting a good deal.

Emphasize free shipping. You should obviously only include a line about free shipping if you actually plan to offer it, but if you do, this can be a great way to entice people who are hesitant about buying online rather than at an in-store location.

Test different calls-to-action. It might not seem like there’s a big difference between “Buy Now” and “Act Now,” but if you A/B test two seemingly similar phrases, the results might surprise you. Oftentimes, the call-to-action that you thought would work best may not actually be the one that gets the most impressive results. Brainstorm several different calls-to-action and test them against each other, two at a time, until you’ve whittled them down to the strongest two (which you can again test against each other).

Try title case. Although it’s not exactly clear why, many marketing companies that have A/B tested two ad bodies – one that was all in title case and one that only used capitalization at the beginning of the line and for proper nouns – found that the ad in title case has higher click-through and conversion rates. This might not hold true for all types of businesses, but it’s worth testing to see if this minor change can improve your outcome.

Highlight different features. If you’re marketing a range of products or a product that can do lots of different things, you’ll likely find that different features or benefits appeal to different people. For example, if you’re selling a portable charcoal grill, saying “perfect for camping trips” is more likely to appeal to people who go camping while saying “the perfect Father’s Day gift” is more likely to appeal to people searching for a Father’s Day gift. Try highlighting your product(s) from different angles to see what gets you the most qualified leads. If you find that multiple versions of the body are successful, you may want to run multiple versions of the ad.

Optimize for mobile. If you’ve searched for a business, restaurant, or hotel on a smartphone recently, you’ve probably noticed that many search results and PPC ads now include buttons that allow you to call that business, look up the location, or get directions. We all love convenience, and anyone looking at two similar PPC ads on their phone is probably going to try the one that allows them to take action directly from that device.

Feeling like you have a better grasp on writing body text? Go forth and brainstorm different variations to A/B test. Don’t be afraid to take the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach, either – if you keep fiddling with different variations, you’ll eventually find one (or several) that get you the qualified leads you want.

In the next part of this series, I’ll be moving on to discussing keywords in your PPC ads. They’re another crucial component, so be sure to check back.

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