I recently answered a question on LinkedIn with an ultra-cool strategy that we've recently implemented for client PPC ads that you may be able to benefit from.  Here's the question and my answer.

Q: How do you test and optimize PPC ads?

A: Here's sort of a "different" answer...I have my co-workers write ads to test. I give them the parameters and the ammunition (landing pages, features, benefits and other good stuff for ads) and run a little contest with a prize for the winner. What's the point? Many times "professionals" and those closely associated with marketing can get too "markety." We start using fancy words and lose sight that there's a real person searching with questions they want answered. Involving others who don't know so much about the campaign can lead to some great ads, as they use different language and come at the problem and solution from different angles. Plus, it's a lot of fun!

You see, you can't just get stuck in a silo as a business owner, marketing executive, agency or whomever you are that is running tests.  If you do, you can easily fall into the "insider" trap. As an insider, you think like an insider. You use language that is common in your business and industry. You think like the business owner, marketing executive, or agency that you are. Because that's what you are. But, you're not searching for yourself (well maybe, but not in this context).



Real people on computers performing searches that think differently than you do...that's who's searching. Therefore, it requires you to get outside of yourself to find the messages that connect with them - as opposed to the gobbledygook you're overpaying someone to come up with for image purposes. This is why expanding your pool of idea contributors as wide as possible is so important.

Get Everyone Involved

I did it by getting everyone on my team involved with writing ads - from the CEO to the office manager. Yes, they were limited in their knowledge. But, sometimes the simplest answers are the most effective. In fact, in the latest ad test, we ran 5 different ads written by 5 different people. At least one person in the test needed clarification on what the product even does. I've been managing the campaign for a couple years. She came in 3rd place. I came in 4th. Will that happen every time? Of course not. But, it happened this time. And it motivated me to re-visit my client's competitive landscape to beat the ad that came out on top.

Going Beyond Your Company...

On an broader note, here's an example of someone casting an even wider net for optimizing PPC ads. They brilliantly offered the chance to win something of value to a community of optimizers in exchange for their entries into the ad contest. They laid out the product and a few details about what they were looking for and got a large amount of possibilities submitted.

The lesson? Don't assume anything when it comes to testing. Go after all of your available possibilities. Establish a testing culture dominated by open sharing of ideas to get insights into how your potential customers see their problems and possible solutions. In the long run, it will lead to better results than you could ever get on your own.

April 11, 2012

Mike Fleming specializes in Analytics and Paid Search for Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @SEMFlem. Mike enjoys playing, writing and recording music along with playing basketball to get his workout in. He resides in Canton, Ohio with a girl who threw a snowball at him one day…then married him.

Mike and the team at Pole Position are available to help clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Contact them via their site or by phone at 866-685-3374.


"Therefore, it requires you to get outside of yourself to find the messages that connect with them -"

User intent is so important! We as marketers get so used to using "marketing speak" that we forget our audience might not be familiar with the terminology. It's not always easy, but you have to put yourself in the mindset of your audience and think/write/search like they really do, not like you wish they did.

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Fleming > Going Beyond Yourself to Optimize Online Messaging