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How to test pay-per-click ads

Creating a successful pay-per-click ad isn’t easy. We are overloaded with paid advertisements daily, promoting everything from weight loss products to virtual customer service agent programs. It may seem like an impossible task to stand out amongst all the noise. 

However, successful PPC ads aren’t created perfectly and then left untouched. Instead, they are nurtured through a process of tracking, testing, and optimizing.

This article will explain how to test your ads to help you achieve your PPC campaign aims.

Why Test PPC Ads?

You need to test your ads for the same reason you would trial an employee. Are your ads performing as intended? Are they worth the money you are spending on them? Testing your ads can answer these questions.

You can thereby identify common patterns across your highest achieving ads and then replicate the elements that are working well when creating new ones.

Equally, you can identify the traits common to your underperforming ads. Testing gives you the information you need to change things up and optimize your ads.

Testing is essential if you want to minimize your marketing budget’s wastage and maximize the value from your PPC strategies.

What Should Be Tested?

So you’ve run some ads and have a wealth of data within your PPC analytics reports. Now, what should you actually test? In short, everything.

1. Identify valuable keywords.

Firstly, you can test the keywords you’re using. Testing different keywords will help you identify the most valuable ones. For example, if you’re advertising an encrypted messenger app, you may test the keywords “most secure messaging app”.

When testing keywords, focus on their search volume and cost-per-click. This will help you decide which ones provide the most value.

2. Target the right audience.

Your ads may not be achieving their desired results if they are targeted to the wrong audience. If your ideal customers aren’t seeing your ad, they can’t click on it. 

Test your ads by targeting different demographics based on age, gender, interests, and geographical location.

3. Consider your ad visuals.

Next, you should test your visuals. Think about the images, gifs and/or videos you are using. You can experiment with just one or with any combination of these types of visuals.

If you have the capability, it is highly recommended to include gifs and videos. However, you can still run an effective ad using static imagery alone.

4. Optimize your ad copy.

The headline copy is the most crucial part of your ad because it’s the first thing that’ll draw in your audience. Most people will ignore your body copy completely, so your headline must be optimized for conversions. For instance, if you are advertising google calendar extensions, mention that in the headline. 

You should also test your body copy- trial different lengths of copy to find out which is most effective.

You can test other variables, such as your landing pages and the channels you are serving your ads on. Eventually, you should get around to testing every variable you can think of. However, the four mentioned above are the best place to get started, as they are the most impactful to your ads’ success.

How Can PPC Ads Be Tested?

The simplest way to test your pay-per-click ads is by carrying out A/B testing. A/B testing is simply running two or more ads within the same ad group, with one variable changed each time, to see which one performs better. You can do this whether your PPC ads are on social media, search engines, or both. 

In essence, you are serving different variations of your ad to different users. This allows you to gather data on each ad’s individual click-through rate and conversion rate.

It is vital to ensure that you are only changing one variable in each test. For example, if you are testing your ad copy, you need to make certain that the visuals are the same for each test. If you change multiple variables for each test, you won’t be sure which one is impacting the ad’s performance.

You might see results coming in immediately, but you want to give these a few days to get the best picture. After that, you may start to see a clear winner emerge. You should have at least a few conversions on each ad set before you end the tests and declare a winner.

When analyzing your test results, you should focus on the cost per conversion. Achieving a conversion is the goal of your ad. For instance, if you are trying to generate leads with your ads, a conversion could be somebody signing up on your website. For ecommerce stores, a purchase would be considered a conversion.

Consider where you are getting the most value when deciding which one of your test ads is the winner.

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